Links 3/11/2019: BMW on GNU/Linux Usage, Sparky 2019.11 and Con Kolivas Releases Linux-5.3-ck

Posted in News Roundup at 1:00 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

  • GNU/Linux

    • BMW Continues Making Great Progress With Linux

      In recent years we have seen prominent automobile manufacturer BMW engaging more with open-source and Linux. At this week’s Open-Source Summit Europe / Embedded Linux Conference Europe they talked more about their increasing usage of Linux from their assembly line to within automobiles.

    • BMW gets closer to adopting Linux as the mainline platform

      The ever-growing popularity of Linux reaches a new level as BMW shows more interest in making a complete shift to Linux.

      This news shouldn?t be surprising for anyone as the famous car-manufacturing company, namely BMW, has always been invested in Linux and the open-source world. However, they have hinted towards taking their Linux usage up a notch at the Embedded Linux Conference Europe held this week.

      At the event, the company?s representative, Helio Chissini De Castro, did a presentation on the pathway taken by BMW for the adoption of Linux as a mainline platform. A little bit about the guy: he has been working for BMW as a software engineer and OS domain lead since 2015 and has great familiarity with the KDE Project, Linux distributions, and FOSS. So, if anyone knows about the relationship between BMW and Linux, best believe that it?s him.

    • Desktop

    • Server

      • What Service Meshes are, and Why Istio Leads the Pack
      • IBM

        • Obsidian joins Red Hat Forums in SA to highlight the power of open source

          Leading open source technology and services provider Obsidian Systems has confirmed its participation as a silver sponsor of the EMEA Red Hat Forum 2019 at the Century City Conference Centre in Cape Town on 19 November and at the Gallagher Convention Centre in Johannesburg on 21 November.

          The Red Hat Forum is an opportunity for business leaders to deep dive into the opportunities represented by technology and technology trends, including open source cloud computing, platforms, virtualisation, middleware, storage and system management.

          Obsidian Systems is excited about the event and the chance to engage with competitors within the EMEA market to explain why, in terms of ICT architecture and platform strategies, it is no longer a case of ‘either or’, but rather ‘whichever and more’!

        • How IBM Cloud Paks Enable Enterprises To Modernize Their Workloads

          Think of Cloud Paks as an IBM certified middleware layer composed of open source software and IBM’s own enterprise software products. It takes away the pain involved in assembling and orchestrating multiple containers when deploying and managing an enterprise workload.

          IBM turned to Red Hat to build the foundation of Cloud Paks. At the bottom of the stack, there is Red Hat Enterprise Linux, a proven enterprise operating system. The next layer is powered by Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform, one of the few enterprise-ready container orchestration platforms available today. The OpenShift Container Platform manages a set of containers deployed as a part of Cloud Pak.

        • Open source to drive digital transformation in Saudi Arabia

          Red Hat, Inc., the world’s leading provider of open source solutions, has released breakthrough research unearthing the nexus between the innovative propensity of enterprise open source software and digital transformation in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). These findings are backed by increased global adoption of open source solutions as cost-effective, flexible, reliable, secure, and alternative foundational systems to drive innovation and digital transformation.

          Globally, Linux-based open source software is becoming progressively present within end user and vendor IT stacks as they pursue innovation, operational objectives, and cost-effectiveness. This adoption of Linux is expected to drive digital transformation initiatives, with Linux-based expenditure forecast to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12.9% over the next five years.

          As KSA’s key enterprises embark on a transformative array of strategic objectives derived from the nation’s leadership agenda for digitalization, Red Hat is delivering a wave of cutting-edge solutions to redefine the country’s global competitiveness and boost its drive towards establishing a robust, knowledge-based economy in the decades to come. The real world enterprise use cases of open source in KSA are fueling the enablement of next generation IT infrastructure modernization, application development, application integration, digital transformation, and application modernization. This is coming to life in the Kingdom, with e-Government program, Yesser, and the National Transformation Plan highlighting the need for open source initiatives. Additionally, the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) has been handed the mandate to establish a regulatory framework to promote open source software.

    • Audiocasts/Shows

      • Going Linux #380 · Switching from Windows to Linux-Part 2

        In our second episode dedicated to upgrading from Windows to Linux we describe how to create installation media from Windows, macOS, and Linux, booting from a USB device, making the right setup selections, and getting updates.

      • Podcast.__init__: Accelerating The Adoption Of Python At Wayfair

        Large companies often have a variety of programming languages and technologies being used across departments to keep the business running. Python has been gaining ground in these environments because of its flexibility, ease of use, and developer productivity. In order to accelerate the rate of adoption at Wayfair this week’s guest Jonathan Biddle started a team to work with other engineering groups on their projects and show them how best to take advantage of the benefits of Python. In this episode he explains their operating model, shares their success stories, and provides advice on the pitfalls to avoid if you want to follow in his footsteps. This is definitely worth a listen if you are using Python in your work or would like to aid in its adoption.

      • Episode 15: Faster Python in 5 seconds!

        This is a video I did in spanish, but I have added english subtitles!

        It’s about different ways to make your python code faster without changing your code, hope people like it, because doing the subtitles is a ton of work ;-)

    • Kernel Space

      • linux-5.3-ck1, MuQSS version 0.195 for linux-5.3

        Announcing a new -ck release, 5.3-ck1 with the latest version of the Multiple Queue Skiplist Scheduler, version 0.195. These are patches designed to improve system responsiveness and interactivity with specific emphasis on the desktop, but configurable for any workload.

      • Linux 5.3-ck1 Kernel Released With MuQSS 0.195 Scheduler Bringing Ryzen Fixes

        Con Kolivas is normally quite quick following new kernel releases in turning around a re-spin with his patch-set atop that also has his MuQSS scheduler optimized for desktop responsiveness. His Linux 5.3 kernel support is late to the party due to being tied up with other work, but Kolivas introduced his latest code today.

        Linux 5.3-ck1 is available today along with MuQSS 0.195 as his “Multiple Queue Skiplist Scheduler” derived from his original Brain Fuck Scheduler (BFS) and optimized for Linux desktop responsiveness. With his “-ck” patches in addition to MuQSS continue to be other kernel tweaks like lowering the VM swappiness threshold, a default timer frequency of 100Hz, PREEMPT by default, and other changes to optimize the Linux kernel for desktop platforms.

      • AMD Sends In More “Arcturus” GPU Code For Linux 5.5

        Along with Intel sending in their last feature pull to DRM-Next for Linux 5.5, AMD has done the same in sending their lingering AMDGPU feature work for queuing ahead of the upcoming Linux 5.5 merge window.

        Notable to this latest AMDGPU pull, which is one of several for Linux 5.5, is more “Arcturus” code. Arcturus as a refresher is a yet-to-launch AMD compute accelerator based on Vega. There has been Linux driver patches for Arcturus for the past number of months and we know it’s focused on compute/video acceleration without any 3D block working. Arcturus has yet to be formally introduced by AMD but perhaps at this month’s SC19 Supercomputing conference it will get a formal introduction.

      • Linux 5.5 Bringing Thunderbolt Lane Bonding, DP Tunneling Updates

        Intel’s Mika Westerberg who continues overseeing the Linux kernel’s Thunderbolt code has prepped more changes ahead of the upcoming Linux 5.5 cycle.

        The latest Thunderbolt changes queued into Mika’s “next” branch include:

        - Support for Thunderbolt lane bonding to allow aggregating two 10/20 Gb/s lanes into a single 20/40 Gb/s bonded link.

      • Graphics Stack

        • AMD’s Navi 22 and Navi 23 GPUs recently spotted in Linux driver

          It seems like only yesterday when AMD President and CEO Dr. Lisa Su promised that high-end 7nm Navi-powered graphics cards are on the way. Now, signs of such premium graphics cards are starting to pop up.

          As reported by Tom’s Hardware, 3DCenter forum member Berniyh recently spotted Navi 22 and Navi 23 graphics cards (GPUs) show up for the first time, and in a Linux driver. So naturally, people are speculating that they may be the premium GPUs that Dr. Lisa Su was talking about back in August.

        • Linux drivers confirm high-end Radeon Navi GPUs, detail new budget cards

          Starting in the budget category, it appears AMD has five Navi 14 GPUs in the works. The driver lists the Navi 14 XT, XTM, XL, XLM, and the XTX. The first two are the previously announced 5500 and 5500M (the mobile version). The codenames indicate the next two are a cheaper variant and its accompanying mobile version, probably the 5300 we saw listed in an unreleased HP gaming PC last September. For the 5700-series, the XTX codename denoted the overclocked 50th Anniversary Edition card, so we’ll have to wait and see how that works for Navi 14.

          The driver also contained various numbers that aligned with the base clocks for the 5500 and 5500M, so we’ve interpreted them as being base clocks for the other three cards too. They’re about what you’d expect. While we don’t have any information about core count, it seems the 5300 cards would likely have slightly less than the 5500’s 1408.

    • Applications

      • Best VNC Viewer Client Linux Operating System

        Let’s have a quick look into the list of some of the best VNC viewer client for Linux based operating systems

      • Rav1e Begins Adding SSE4.1 Support, More x86 Assembly

        The Rust-written “rav1e” AV1 video encoder continues working on better performance potential with recent Intel/AMD CPUs.

        Recently we reported on rav1e picking up SSSE3 and AArch64 NEON optimizations while this week is more hand-written x86 Assembly (ported from the speedy dav1d decoder) as well as initial SSE4.1 support.

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Wine or Emulation

      • Wine-Staging 4.19 Brings Fix For X Rebirth Game, Updates NTDLL User Shared Data

        Fresh off last night’s Wine 4.19 uncorking, Wine-Staging 4.19 is out as the experimental blend of Wine with more than 800 patches for experimental/testing patches atop the upstream code-base for running Windows games/applications on Linux and other platforms.

      • Wine staging 4.19 release
        Binary packages for various distributions will be available from:
        Summary since last release
        * Rebased to current wine 4.19 (840 patches are applied to wine vanilla)
        Upstreamed (Either directly from staging or fixed with a similar patch).
        * quartz: Implement MediaSeeking_GetStopPosition on top of 
        * quartz: Remove unused cache of MediaSeeking stop position.
        * quartz: Include the stream position in addition to the reference clock 
        offset in the time returned by MediaSeeking_GetPositions.
        * crypt32: Add MS root CA 2010.
        * include: Add restrictederrorinfo.idl.
        * uianimation: Add stub dll.
        * uianimation: Implement IUIAnimationManager CreateStoryboard.
        * uianimation: Implement IUIAnimationManager CreateAnimationVariable.
        * [47974] X Rebirth: NtVirtualAlloc() does not find available memory 
        with nonzero bitmask.
        * ntdll-User_Shared_Data
        Where can you help
        * Run Steam/Battle.net/GOG/UPlay/Epic
        * Test your favorite game.
        * Test your favorite applications.
        * Improve staging patches and get them accepted upstream.
        As always, if you find a bug, please report it via
        Best Regards
    • Games

      • Godot 4.0 Vulkan Support Continues Progressing – GI System Overhauled

        Godot 4.0 continues to be worked on with much excitement by lead developer Juan Linietsky and others. While continuing to advance the Vulkan code in general for its introduction in Godot 4.0, over the past month most of the development efforts were focused on global illumination.

        Ramping up their global illumination system and baking “GIProbes 2.0″ was the Godot development focus for October. Their new global illumination system is now largely squared away for the big 4.0 release.

      • Godot Engine – Vulkan Progress Report #5

        Another month, another Vulkan progress report! October was a busy month, as most of it was split between working on the new Global Illumination system and Godotcon/GIC in Poland.

        Despite this, strong progress was made and the new GI system seems pretty much complete.

      • The Sunday odds and ends Linux and gaming section

        Let’s start with a little crowdfunding news shall we! Everspace 2 is almost at the finishing line, with just over a day left to go they still need about £28K. With enough of a push they might just do it. Recently, Linux livestreamer Corben78 showed it off on Linux.

        Another crowdfunding project, OTHER: Her Loving Embrace, recently got fully funded. It’s a stylish turn-based/platformer RPG and it’s coming to Linux!

        The funding campaign to help GNOME fight off a patent troll has now officially passed the $125k they requested! Since they’re planning to fight, hopefully it will help deter future patent trolls attacking FOSS.

      • Steinar H. Gunderson: Chess960 opening recalculation

        A while back, I set Stockfish to analyze every opening position in Chess960 (also knows as Fischer Random chess, or Fischerandom, or several other names). For the World Championship, I redid this analysis with a newer version of Stockfish to higher depths (d41 on most positions, d42 on others)—and this time, I kept the PV. (I also fixed a fairly important bug; thanks to Peter Heine Nielsen for spotting it.)

    • Desktop Environments/WMs

      • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

        • KDE: Taking Itinerary to the Next Level

          KDE Itinerary is a project to get your travel itinerary presented to you in a unified, well structured and always up to date fashion, by extracting structured data from emails, boarding passes, and other sources. I successfully traveled the world with it!

        • This week in KDE: bug squashing and more

          This week we continued fixing bugs in Plasma 5.17! We know that it was a bit buggier than the 5.16 release was, and we strive to do better. If you’d like to help out with this, please test our Plasma beta releases by switching to the unstable/beta testing repos in your rolling release distro of choice. For example, Arch and openSUSE Tumbleweed. Beta releases of KDE apps will show up in these repos as well. It’s super fun! Try it, you’ll like it!

        • KDE’s Dolphin Now Lets Users Know What’s Preventing A Drive From Being Unmounted

          - The Dolphin file manager now shows what is blocking a drive/volume from being unmounted.

          - Gwenview import improvements.

          - Random wallpaper slideshows have now been restored to be random again.

          - Discover can now cancel the installation of Snap apps without freezing.

    • Distributions

      • New Releases

        • Qubes OS 4.0.2-rc2 has been released!

          A point release does not designate a separate, new version of Qubes OS. Rather, it designates its respective major or minor release (in this case, 4.0) inclusive of all updates up to a certain point. Installing Qubes 4.0 and fully updating it results in the same system as installing Qubes 4.0.2.

      • Fedora Family

      • Debian Family

        • Sparky 2019.11

          There are new live/install media of Sparky 2019.11 “Po Tolo” available to download, which is based on the testing branch of Debian “Bullseye”.

          • system upgraded from Debian testing “Bullseye” repos as of November 2, 2019
          • Calamares installer 3.2.16 + kpmcore 4
          • Linux kernel 5.2.17 as default (5.3.8 & 5.4-rc5 in Sparky unstable repos)
          • obmenu-generator removed from Openbox edition (due to Perl updated up to 5.30 and libgtk2-perl removed); it has been replaced by sparky-obmenu (+obmenu)
          • added Sid repos back (not active) – use it on your own risk
          • Yad updated up to 5.0, but it is available from Sparky unstable repos now

    • Devices/Embedded

    • Free, Libre, and Open Source Software

      • The Best Reasons to Go Open Source

        Open Source software is incredibly popular, but many people still don’t really understand what all the fuss is about. If you didn’t know, Open Source software is published with the entire source code for anyone to look at and modify. Generally, you don’t have to pay for this software. There are Open Source alternatives to packages like Microsoft Office or Adobe Photoshop that won’t cost you a penny and very nearly do the same job. That’s why we’ve put together the most important reasons you may want to go Open Source.

      • Ultracopier is an open source file copying tool for Windows, macOS and Linux

        I like to keep things organized on my system especially when it comes to file downloads. While all downloads end up in a single location on my system, I like to copy them to specific folders every once in a while as it improves manageability. I put documents into a folder, and do the same for program installers, portable applications, media files, and other file types.


        Did I mention that it is also available for Linux, macOS and Android?

      • Using Your Open Source Work to Land a Great Job

        So you’ve worked on an open-source project, and you want to place that experience on your resume in order to move your career forward. Fantastic! It’s clear (especially from sources such as GitLab’s Global Developer Report) that companies and managers are increasingly in love with everything open-source, especially since it’s often cheaper and easier to implement than proprietary solutions.

        As a result, there’s no reason an employer should shun your experience, just because you did an open-source project from home on your own time. But how can you actually leverage that project work to obtain a full-time job?

      • Waves launches powerful new open-source crypto desktop wallet
      • Webiny announces $348K seed to build open-source serverless CMS

        Webiny, a London startup developing a serverless content management system, announced a $348,000 (£270,000) seed round today led by UK investment firm Episode 1.

        Webiny founder Sven Al Hamad says that Webiny is the first full-feature content management built for a serverless environment. “That means that we built Webiny from the ground up, and architected it so it works only inside serverless functions,” he said.

      • DotCMS 5.2 is Released, Bloomreach Announces brX and More Open Source News
      • The International Free and Open Source Law Review will relaunch as the new “Journal of Open Law, Technology & Society” an international, broadly-scoped journal about openness at Open Source Summit Europe

        The Editorial Board of the “International Free and Open Source Software Law Review” (“IFOSSLR”) is delighted to announce its decision to re-brand the journal, giving it a broader scope after 10 years of success as a law review. IFOSSLR will go forward under the new name to reflect its expanded scope.

      • SD Times Open-Source Project of the Week: Perspective

        Perspective can be used to build reports, dashboards, notebooks, and applications. It has a fast, memory-efficient query engine and offers read/write/stream support for Apache Arrow.

        It also features a framework-agnostic query configuration UI and a suite of simple visualization plugins for common JavaScript libraries like D3FC and Hypergrid.

        FINOS hopes that financial services firms utilize Perspective to increase access to data, enhance visualization, and create better reports.

      • Free, open-source software will offer solutions to IT startups: Pinarayi
      • ConsenSys Space Launches TruSat, An Open-source Space Sustainability System

        TruSat is an experimental open-source, open-sensor system for creating a globally-accessible, trusted record of satellite orbital positions. TruSat is primarily designed to enable the assessment of satellite operations in the context of space sustainability standards, but may well illuminate new solutions to broader space traffic management challenges.


        Version 0.1 of the TruSat software is a feature-limited engineering prototype for validation of the core software engine for autonomously fitting an

        orbit from observations of a satellite from multiple points on Earth. “This first release is primarily for testing by the dedicated community of hobbyists already active in tracking satellites, “ explained Lewicki.


        TruSat’s autonomous, decentralized trust architecture is not its only experimental element. “Our decision to build citizen satellite observers into the system is part of a larger set of experiments exploring the potential of Ethereum technology to enable bottom-up, collective action on an unprecedented scale,” explained ConsenSys Space Co-Founder Brian Israel.

        Israel spent much of his career as a State Department lawyer forging international cooperation to address global challenges, from governing the space domain to mitigating climate change. “At the intergovernmental level, the ambition of cooperative solutions tends to be constrained to the political will of the least ambitious government involved. That leaves many concerned citizens disenfranchised, and their contributions on the table. What if my individual will to be part of the solution is higher than my government’s? What can I do?”

      • Exploring Gitlab Visual Reviews

        With version 12.0 Gitlab has introduced a new interesting feature: Visual Reviews! You can know leave comments to Merge Requests directly from the page you are visiting over your stage environment, without having to change tab.


        One of the coolest thing in Gitlab is that everything is always a work in progress, and each feature has some new goodies in every release. This is true for the Visual Reviews App as well. There is an epic that collects all the improvements they want to do, including removing the need for an access token, and adding ability to take screenshots that will be inserted in the MR comments as well.

        That’s all for today, I hope you found this article useful! For any comment, feedback, critic, write to me on Twitter (@rpadovani93) or drop an email at riccardo@rpadovani.com.

        I have also changed the blog theme to a custom version of Rapido.css. I think it increases the readability, but let me know what you think!

      • Events

        • How to ensure that open source projects deliver on their full potential

          The move by telcos towards using open source projects is picking up pace, with many of them getting further involved with the community. But how do CSPs ensure that open source projects deliver on their full potential and help them achieve their goals and objectives? Furthermore, can we be certain that the community supports continued improvements to the scalability of open source, as its utilisation in the network increases?

      • Web Browsers

        • Mozilla

          • Mozilla to stop supporting sideloaded extensions in Firefox

            Mozilla has announced today plans to discontinue one of the three methods through which extensions can be installed in Firefox.

            Starting next year, Firefox users won’t be able to install extensions by placing an XPI extension file inside a special folder inside a user’s Firefox directory.

      • Linux Foundation

      • SaaS/Back End/Databases

        • Datameer announces $40M investment as it pivots away from Hadoop roots

          Company CEO Christian Rodatus says the company’s original mission was about making Hadoop easier to use for data scientists, business analysts and engineers. In the last year, the three biggest commercial Hadoop vendors — Cloudera, Hortonworks and MapR — fell on hard times. Cloudera and Hortonworks merged and MapR was sold to HPE in a fire sale.

      • CMS

        • WordPress website building platform Elementor now on 3 million sites

          Elementor, a visual theming engine for the open-source blogging platform WordPress, announced Wednesday that three million websites have published using its service. Elementor was founded in 2016, though in the last six months, the company added an extra million users.

        • WordPress 2019 Annual Survey

          It’s time for our annual user and developer survey! If you’re a WordPress user or professional, we want your feedback.

          It only takes a few minutes to fill out the survey, which will provide an overview of how people use WordPress. We’re excited to announce that this year, for the first time, the survey is also available in 5 additional languages: French, German, Japanese, Russian, and Spanish. Many thanks to the community volunteers who helped with the translation effort!

      • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

      • Public Services/Government

        • Quick win: DTA shows how it’s done with open-source notification platform

          Four people, eight weeks, and $150,000.

          That is what it took for the Digital Transformation Agency to deliver a working prototype of a bulk email and text-message notification system.

          There was no need to build notify.gov.au from scratch. The DTA adapted an open-source product developed by the Government Digital Service in the UK, and invited public servants in any level of government to try it out free of charge.

          “More than 100 users from 47 agencies were trialling the service within three months of its launch. For smaller organisations in particular, it represents a major saving as they do not need to invest in establishing their own platform,” says the DTA annual report.

        • Open source notify.gov.au delivered in eight weeks for a cost of AU$150k

          The Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) wanted a way for government agencies to communicate easily with their customers, so it developed a vision for notifications from the perspective individuals interacting with government, and the government itself.

          According to DTA CEO Randall Brugeaud, the agency looked at several options to deliver what is now notify.gov.au.

          It settled on making use of an open source product that was already in place within the UK government.

          “It was running on the same technology infrastructure as we used for cloud.gov.au and it aligned with our Digital Service Standard, which has 13 criteria to describe how you deliver government services,” Brugeaud told the Gartner IT Symposium/Xpo on the Gold Coast.

          “Self service allows the teams across government to create accounts, create and send email to users in minutes, there’s templates, communications can be tailured, service teams can integrate with the platform into their backend system.”

        • Can a govt-wide open source messaging platform really cost just $150k?

          DTA chief pushes the envelope as messaging times slashed from days to minutes.
          The Department of Health has drastically cut down the amount of time taken to send emails to My Aged Care service recipients using the Digital Transformation Agency’s new whole-of-government notifications platform.

          The department, which is just one of 99 Commonwealth, state and territory and local government agencies now reaping the benefits of Notify.gov.au, has gone from slowly sending multiple batches of emails to a single bulk send.

          “The Department of Health’s My Aged Care service was manually sending around 13,000 emails every month,” DTA chief Randal Brugeaud told the Gartner IT Symposium/Xpo on Monday.

          “But they were sending that in parcels of 250 emails at a time – clearly a laborious, time consuming process.

      • Licensing/FUD

        • Commercial vs open source software [Ed: Falsehoods all along. FOSS is also "commercial"; they deceive to make proprietary software seem like the only option for commerce]

          Every business owner that needs a personalized software needs to make a choice between two options. Choosing a commercial software or open-source software. If you are not familiar with these two terms, worry not, we’ll explain everything.

        • The need for open source audits in cybersecurity M&As [Ed: Microsoft-connected Black Duck is smearing FOSS again… to sell its proprietary software snakeoil]
        • Software Security Witching Hour is Upon us [Ed: Microsoft-connected Black Duck continues to attack FOSS with FUD. Microsoft hates FOSS. It just uses Synopsys et al as proxies for the badmouthing.]
        • Let’s Talk Open Source Trends (A 2020 Early Look) [Ed: Well, Flexera views "open source" as little more than opportunity for "compliance" job (money), much like Black Duck]

          There are two emerging trends to take note of now. First, there’s an increased importance around open source compliance and security due to specific industry regulatory changes and requirements. For example, this year the PCI Security Standards Council introduced a new standard of making electronic payments more secure. The standard requires software companies to continuously identify and assess weaknesses in software applications, including the entire software supply chain; key word here being “continuously.” Prior to the implementation of this standard, companies were advised to monitor their use of open source software with no emphasis on ongoing scanning and management.

      • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

        • Open Data

          • Supercharge your research: a ten-week plan for open data science

            Despite the collaborative nature of scientific research, a key component — data analysis — can be a lonely burden. Undertaken by researchers who largely lack formal training in data and open science, such analyses are often bespoke efforts that scientists must perform on their own, reinventing the wheel as they do so. Moreover, when we become faculty members, lecturers and project managers, we can feel unqualified to establish more responsible data practices and unsupported in this endeavour, despite mounting need. We found a sustainable approach to establish more responsible data practices in our research groups through Openscapes, a mentorship programme originally funded by the open-source software company Mozilla in Mountain View, California, and operated by the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) in Santa Barbara, California. Openscapes has helped us to supercharge our research, and we have advice on how others can ignite change in their own teams.


            Our idea of open data science blends R developer Hadley Wickham’s definition of data science — “turn[ing] raw data into understanding” — with open science tools and practices, such as using collaborative version-control platforms for code and project management. Empowered by our new perspective, we are establishing such practices in our groups by creating workflows that facilitate reproducibility and data sharing, and that streamline code organization and collaboration. All of our approaches are centred around an ‘open’ ethos.

            This transition requires a shift in mindset as much as an investment in skill development and team-building. Here are three ideas for how research groups can get started, and a plan for kick-starting this change in ten weeks (see ‘A ten-week plan for open data science’).

        • Open Hardware/Modding

          • Podcast: RISC-V CEO Sees Bright Global Future for Open Source CPUs

            In this podcast, the Radio Free HPC team catches up with Calista Redmond, CEO of RISC-V. As the designers of a new open source processor instruction set, RISC-V is looking to disrupt the entire industry. RISC-V can be used for light weight tasks such as embedded processing but, on the other hand, is also going to be utilized as the system accelerator for the European Exascale initiative boxes. That’s some serious flexibility.

          • Arm Giving Customers Keys to Designs as Open Source Threatens Royalties

            The decision by ARM, the British chip designer, to make some of its patents available to license holders demonstrates the power of the open source movement to remake the rules of microchip development.

            Spurred by competition from alternate versions of its blueprints that earn more than $20 billion in royalties annually, the multinational company is now offering access to some closely guarded code — free of charge.

            Beginning next year, license holders can draw on formerly proprietary Instruction Set Architectures (ISAs) that form the machine-language interface between software programs and the hardware on which they run. Using them, ARM’s customers can customize chips for specific workloads at the central processor level to boost clock speeds and reduce power consumption.

          • Sixi 2, An Open Source 3D Printable 6 Axis Robot Arm

            [Dan Royer] is taking some inspiration from Prusa’s business and is trying to build the same sort of enterprise around open source 3D printable robot arms. His 6 axis robot arm is certainly a strong first step on that road.

            As many people have learned, DIY robot arms are pretty difficult. [Dan]’s arm has the additional complexity of being 3D printable with the ambitious goal of managing a 2kg payload at 840mm of reach. He’s already made significant progress. There’s a firmware, set of custom electronics, and a Fusion 360 project anyone can download and checkout.

          • Ploopy Open Source Trackball Keeps Rolling Along

            We’ll be honest. When we first heard about a mouse, we weren’t convinced. The argument was that business people weren’t familiar with computers. That didn’t ring true since every business person in the last century had at least seen a typewriter keyboard, but most of them had never seen a mouse before the 1980s. The mouse has since become totally ubiquitous, so presumably, it was the right choice. However, if you are a serious touch typer, it is annoying to have to move your hands off the keyboard to a different location each time. There are several solutions for that, but the oldest one is probably the trackball. Ploopy is an open source trackball you can build yourself and it looks pretty capable.

            While we aren’t wild about the name, Ploopy looks pretty good and is one of those projects that would have been very difficult ten years ago. It requires two PC boards. Those used to be hard to get. It also requires some very customized plastic parts. Getting a handful of plastic parts made used to be hard, too. But now you probably have a 3D printer that is just begging for something to do.

          • Mozilla WebThings: An Open Platform For Building IoT Devices

            Mozilla recently officially released their IoT platform. This framework comes with “Gateway” software that can run on a Raspberry Pi and a framework that can run on any number of devices.

            As we’ve seen, IoT is a dubious prospect for consumers. When you throw in all the privacy issues, support issues, and end-of-life issues; it gets even worse. Nobody wants their light bulbs to stop working because a server in faraway land shut down, but that’s an hilariously feasible scenario.

            WebThings comes with a lot out of the box. It comes with a user interface, logging, rules, and an easy-to-understand API. Likewise the actual framework allows for building on many common devices and can be written in Node, Python, Java, Rust, Micropython, and used as an Arduino library. This opens it up for everything from a eBay ESP32 to a particle board.

          • Open source Raspberry Pi chart plotter project for sailors

            Sailors interested in building their very own computer-controlled chart plotter using the awesome Raspberry Pi mini PC may be interested in a project created earlier this year by James Conger, which has been featured this week on the official Raspberry Pi Foundation website. The Raspberry Pi chart plotter project costs approximately $350 to build and uses a Pi 3 Model B+, dAISy AIS receiver HAT, USB GPS module, and touchscreen display all of which are installed in Conger’s yacht.

            The Raspberry Pichart plotter allows James to track the position, speed, and direction of major vessels in the area, superimposed over high-quality NOAA nautical charts. Check out the 10 minute video below to learn more about the project which uses the OpenCPN chart plotting navigation system supported by Windows, Mac, Linux and of course the Raspberry Pi.

          • Open source RK-007 MIDI commander created by RetroKits

            The team over at RetroKits have created a new open source RK-007 MIDI Commander allowing those interested to hack into their MIDI setup. The device requires minimal soldering and set up and is based on an Arduino Pro Micro and easy available parts found online. The Pro Micro is able to be a USBMIDI device so you can plugin the RK007 into the RK005 / RK006 (or just plug it into a computer with a DAW) and incooperate it’s MIDI commands via USB to DIN5.

          • Symbiflow Open Source FPGA Toolchain

            Anyone who’s ever had the pleasure of programming FPGAs knows that it’s a land of proprietary tools that almost require marriage level commitment to a specific platform to be effective. Symbiflow hopes to solve this by becoming the GCC of FPGAs.

            Rather than a tool built around a specific chip or architecture, Symbiflow will provide a more universal interface. Users can program in Verilog; architecture definitions define how the code will be compiled for the right chip. They are currently targeting the popular Xilinx 7-series, the very affordable iCE40 series from lattice, and the ECP5 FPGAs also from Lattice.

            If you’re headed to Hackaday Supercon this year, [Timothy Ansell] will be giving a talk on how Symbiflow is making this process much more approachable and much less proprietary. Overall we’re very excited about a common interface, especially as the price of FPGAs keep dropping into micro controller territory while also increasing in capability.

      • Programming/Development

        • Publish/subscribe, Zato services and asynchronous API integrations

          This article introduces features built into Zato that let one take advantage of publish/subscribe topics and message queues in communication between Zato services, API clients and backend systems.

        • GCC 10.0 Status Report (2019-10-22), Stage 1 to end Nov 16th
        • GCC 11 Aims To Default To C++17 Standard

          With the C++17 support in the GNU Compiler Collection (GCC) already being quite mature for about two releases/years, when the GCC 11 development cycle opens they are looking at enabling their GNU dialect of C++17 to be the default standard when compiling C++ code.

          As it stands now C++14 is the default C++ standard when compiling with GCC and not specifying an alternative -std=. But for GCC 11 they are planning to bump that to the next revision, C++17. Technically there still would be time to make this change for GCC 10, but it’s getting late into the cycle without much time for addressing any fallout that may arise.

        • binb 0.0.5: More improvements

          The fifth release of the binb package just arrived on CRAN. binb regroups four rather nice themes for writing LaTeX Beamer presentations much more easily in (R)Markdown. As a teaser, a quick demo combining all four themes follows; documentation and examples are in the package.

        • Codeberg, Gitea, & Notabug for You Switching from GitHub

          If you are looking for gratis service for code hosting to replace GitHub, you can look at Codeberg, Notabug, or Gitea these days. I present you here a short intro of those three including their Privacy Policy & Terms of Service so you can decide yourself which one to choose. I also listed some interesting projects, like Libreboot and Infosec Handbook, you could find there. One more important thing is that these 3 services are peacefully browseable with LibreJS. Happy hacking!

        • Nikola v8.0.3 is out!

          On behalf of the Nikola team, I am pleased to announce the immediate availability of Nikola v8.0.3. This release fixes a few bugs, including a notable one with galleries not working on mobile.

        • UN Technology Innovation Labs Cybersecurity Challenge

          The note contains information on the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, the project under which this activity is taking place, the need to raise awareness of cyber-threats posed by terrorist actors and to enhance knowledge on potential solutions to increase the protection against malicious cyber acts and, finally, details about the contents of the activity itself.

        • Weekly Python StackOverflow Report: (cci) stackoverflow python report
        • How to install Perl on Ubuntu 18.04/19.10
        • Quansight Tackles Support Gap in PyData Community
  • Leftovers

    • The Blues Had a White Baby and His Name was Michael Bloomfield

      Michael Bloomfield began playing in Chicago blues clubs while still in high school. By 1968 he was considered one of the best guitarists in the world along with Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton. By that time, Bloomfield had joined and left the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, played on Bob Dylan’s masterpiece album Highway 61 Revisited and formed the genre busting group The Electric Flag. Like so many other musicians, especially of his generation, he had also developed a taste for opiates and the relief they provide.

    • Consciousness: Just Two Guys Talking

      Consciousness comes in all kinds of flavors — political, ecological, historical, psychological, etc. Even an awareness of unconsciousness can be a kind of consciousness, such as when we refer to, say, the archetypal realm of the Collective Unconscious, which is a kind of consciousness of gene-level symbolism. In fact, a good place for understanding what consciousness is may start with what it isn’t — unconsciousness. I guess it depends on what your definition of isn’t isn’t.

    • Health/Nutrition

      • The Life Expectancy for American Men Keeps Falling

        The life expectancy of American men appears to have peaked, and is now steadily declining.

        The difference is modest — the average life expectancy declined a total of about four months since 2014, according to CBS News. But while the actual difference is small, the fact that it’s declined every year between 2014 and 2017 — the latest year for which data is available — is a troubling sign.

        According to CBS, the rising mortality rate is explained in part by rising death rates from drug overdoses, deaths by suicide, and alcohol-related diseases like cirrhosis.

      • Dear Mr. Donny Deutsch: Please Come to “F***ing Denmark.”

        To: Donny DeutschFr: Djaffar Shalchi, Danish millionaire and founder, Human ActRe: “F***ing Denmark”Dear Mr. Deutsch,I noticed with interest your comments regarding healthcare and wealth on Bill Maher’s show last week. It’s not often that my home country of “f***ing Denmark” gets compared to the United States, let alone so colorfully.

      • In Rough Seas: the Seaweed Harvesters of Tamil Nadu

        They’re up by 3 each morning. They’ve got to be at work by 5 a.m. and need to complete all their household tasks before that. The commute to their vast, wet workplace is a short walk. They just step out of their homes, stride up to the sea – and dive in.

    • Security (Confidentiality/Integrity/Availabilitiy)

      • Kernel Address Space Isolation Is Still Being Explored For Better Security

        IBM developers and others continue exploring the potential for address space isolation in the Linux kernel to reduce the risk of leaking sensitive data in attacks like L1 Terminal Fault (L1TF), MDS, and other vulnerabilities. Though this does increase the complexity of the kernel code and the performance hit is still to be evaluated.

        Mike Rapoport and James Bottomley presented at this week’s Open-Source Summit Europe in France on Address Space Isolation within the kernel compared to the current structure of the kernel using a single address space. The still in-progress A.S.I. patches could allow for certain kernel contexts like the Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM) to have a separate address space to reduce the exposure of sensitive data.

      • Nordic and Baltic equity trading halted again by tech glitch [iophk: "No technical details about the nature of the compute failures in this stock market article."]

        “Due to technical disturbances, Nasdaq Nordic Equity and Nasdaq Nordic Index and Equity Derivatives markets (have been) halted again,” operator Nasdaq said in an emailed statement.

        The company operates bourses in Finland, Denmark, Sweden, Iceland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

      • Chromium 78.0.3904.87 addresses an exploit in the wild

        The Chromium update of this week addresses a vulnerability for which an 0-day exploit is actively being used. It’s the CVE-2019-13720 (Use-after-free in audio) which was caught by Kaspersky’s exploit prevention program.

        Fresh packages for Slackware 14.2 or -current are already available in my repository, so please upgrade at the earliest.

      • Buffeting Boeing CEO’s Rope-a-Dope in Congress

        This past week, Boeing’s deadly 737 MAX crashes were the focus of two back-to-back hearings – one in the Senate and one in the House. In the House Transportation Committee hearing, at least 50 Democrats and Republicans criticized Dennis Muilenburg’s mismanagement and implied criminal negligence.

      • The First BlueKeep Mass Hacking Is Finally Here—but Don’t Panic [Ed: NSA collusion with Microsoft gives us this and much more]

        When Microsoft revealed last May that millions of Windows devices had a serious hackable flaw known as BlueKeep—one that could enable an automated worm to spread malware from computer to computer—it seemed only a matter of time before someone unleashed a global attack. As predicted, a BlueKeep campaign has finally struck. But so far it’s fallen short of the worst case scenario.

        Security researchers have spotted evidence that their so-called honeypots—bait machines designed to help detect and analyze malware outbreaks—are being compromised en masse using the BlueKeep vulnerability. The bug in Microsoft’s Remote Desktop Protocol allows a hacker to gain full remote code execution on unpatched machines; while it had previously only been exploited in proofs of concept, it has potentially devastating consequences. Another worm that targeted Windows machines in 2017, the NotPetya ransomware attack, caused more than 10 billion dollars in damage worldwide.

        But so far, the widespread BlueKeep hacking merely installs a cryptocurrency miner, leeching a victim’s processing power to generate cryptocurrency. And rather than a worm that jumps unassisted from one computer to the next, these attackers appear to have scanned the internet for vulnerable machines to exploit. That makes this current wave unlikely to result in an epidemic.

      • Hackers can steal the contents of Horde webmail inboxes with one click [Ed: Microsoft Zack (‘former’ employee) not covering Microsoft NSA back doors that cause billions in damage, instead trying to damage the name of FOSS because sending people a malicious link and a trick can cause problems?

        A security researcher has found several vulnerabilities in the popular open-source Horde web email software that allow hackers to near-invisibly steal the contents of a victim’s inbox.

        Horde is one of the most popular free and open-source web email systems available. It’s built and maintained by a core team of developers, with contributions from the wider open-source community. It’s used by universities, libraries and many web hosting providers as the default email client.

        Numan Ozdemir disclosed his vulnerabilities to Horde in May. An attacker can scrape and download a victim’s entire inbox by tricking them into clicking a malicious link in an email.

      • New Tool Will Find Secrets – Including Crypto Keys – in Your Public Code

        The app, which is open source, scans code repository GitHub for dangerous files and data. As a beginning coder, you may have left your password data or private keys inside public repository without realizing. When this happens, hackers and other nasties can easily access your stuff.

    • Defence/Aggression

      • Airbnb Bans ‘Party Houses’ After California Shooting Kills 5

        Airbnb’s CEO said the company was taking actions against unauthorized parties in the wake of a deadly shooting at a Halloween party held at an Airbnb rental home in California.

      • Egypt: Prominent Rights Defender Attacked

        The prominent Egyptian human rights lawyer Gamal Eid has been the target of threats, physical assaults, and vandalism since September 30, 2019 that indicate government involvement, Human Rights Watch said today.

      • Pakistan Army instructed terrorists to wear military uniforms to dodge foreign observers: Govt sources

        The Pakistan army senior officials have also been given instructions at the top level to ensure that the instructions are observed and carried out properly by terror groups on the ground.

        The Pakistani Army had made terrorists wear military clothing during the visit of ‘pliable’ foreign diplomats.

      • Why militants are killing migrant workers in Kashmir

        Security analysts say the targeting of non-locals is directly linked to an emerging wave of identity politics in Kashmir in the aftermath of the Union government, on August 5, scrapping Article 370 of the Constitution and withdrawing Jammu and Kashmir’s special status-which, among other privileges for Kashmiris, barred non-state subjects from owning immovable property.

        The scrapping of special status has fuelled apprehensions among Kashmiris of an impending demographic alteration of the Valley. Militant groups, such as the Jaish-e-Mohammed, Hizbul Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Taiba, are capitalising on such fears and issuing threats, even if it means wrecking Kashmir’s local economy that is heavily dependent on tourism, agriculture and handicrafts.

      • Countries backing India over Kashmir will be hit by missile, Pak minister sparks controversy

        Any country that would support India on Kashmir will be taken as an enemy of Pakistan. And missiles will be fired at that country also, he said during an interview at a local television.

      • Sweden’s bomb squad called out to 100 blasts so far this year

        “If you also compare to other countries in Europe and the world that are as developed as we are, we stick out,” Ylva Ehrlin, national bomb squad analyst, told Swedish news agency TT on Friday.

      • In Memoriam X 7: The Late, Late al Baghdadi

        Abdullah Rashid al-Baghdadi, the much-feared talking beard of the (former) Caliphate of Iraq and the Levant has been killed for approximately the seventh time, on Oct 27, 2017. In memoriam also, Special Forces hound (name still classified), who died while pursuing this villain, like Lassie of yore.

      • Call Of Duty Game Blames Russia For A US War Crime

        When the west isn’t reeling out faked atrocity propaganda against China it’s pushing some kind of propaganda against Russia.

      • How the Courts are Chipping Away at the Legal Basis for the War on Terror

        In times of war, the law often does fall silent.

      • Baghdadi May be Dead, But Trump has Brought ISIS Back to Life

        Usually, the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. But in the heavenly White House this weekend, it worked the other way round. Lord Trump took the life of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and then gave life back to Isis by telling us all that he’d promised to send its surviving murderers to the borders of the UK and other European nations.

      • Dresden: The German city that declared a ‘Nazi emergency’

        A city in eastern Germany has declared a “Nazi emergency”, saying it has a serious problem with the far right.

        Dresden, the capital of Saxony, has long been viewed as a bastion of the far-right and is the birthplace of the anti-Islam Pegida movement.

        Councillors in the city – a contender for the 2025 European Capital of Culture – have now approved a resolution saying more needs to be done to tackle the issue.

        But opponents say it goes too far.

    • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Environment

      • Deciphering Greta’s climate message

        Ms. Thunberg reminded her audience that carbon emissions are crippling the capacities of the young in the early years. This is a familiar note to us in India. In cities like Delhi, doctors have been warning us that children suffering from asthma cannot be expected to have a normal adolescence and youth. The limits that air and water pollution place upon a young person’s health and capacities are all too palpable to citizens in many parts of India. What Ms. Thunberg did was to place these limits in a newer, more public context.

        It is easy to miss her message or misconstrue it because her presentation was strident. While she was so visibly emotional during her brief speech, her message was that we must stop being emotional about our children. Although she was addressing an audience of political leaders, she wanted all of us to recognise and accept the bitter truth that we — and those who represent us — have compromised the future of our children. It is not the distant generations that will face the consequences of climate change. No, the crisis is already upon us. It will unfold in the lives of those who are growing up today. The steps currently under consideration for containing the consequences of climate change are far too inadequate to cope with the crisis. And even these modest steps are being taken with great reluctance, which proves Ms. Thunberg’s point was that we are not mentally ready to accept the challenge.

      • In Delhi’s Air Pollution Emergency, What Changed And What Didn’t

        1. In India, 136 deaths every hour are linked to air pollution.

        2. India’s annual PM 2.5 level in 2018 was 115 micrograms/cubic meter, according to a recent government note, which is 11.5 times higher than the WHO’s safe limit.

      • Because the Climate Crisis ‘Does Not Wait for Us,’ Spain to Host COP25 in Place of Chile

        Critics warned that changing the venue to Europe could imperil the participation of attendees from Asia, Africa, and South America.

      • Agrochemical Apocalypse: Interview with Environmental Campaigner Dr Rosemary Mason

        The renowned author and whistleblower Evaggelos Vallianatos describes British environmentalist and campaigner Dr Rosemary Mason as a “defender of the natural world and public health.” I first came across her work a few years ago. It was in the form of an open letter she had sent to an official about the devastating environmental and human health impacts of glyphosate-based weed killers. What had impressed me was the document she had sent to accompany the letter. It was over 20 pages long and contained official data and referred to a plethora of scientific papers to support the case she was making.

      • Energy

        • U.K. Temporarily Halts Fracking in What Critics See as ‘Election Stunt’

          The British government announced Saturday that it will no longer allow fracking because of new scientific analysis that casts doubts on the safety of the controversial practice, but some critics called the action an election stunt and demanded a permanent ban.

        • Life in the Ashes of Lotusland Dreams: the Kinkade Fire and the Future of California

          The Kincade Fire, currently burning in Sonoma County, California erupted at 9:24 PM on October 23 during an extreme wind event, east of Geyserville (77 miles or 124 km north of San Francisco). An area of 400 acres (2 square kilometers, 2 km^2) burned that evening. By October 30 the fire had burned an area of 76,825 acres (311 km^2), and was only 30% contained. The daily progress of the Kincade Fire is charted in the following figure.

        • Three Fracking Stooges Take Up Residence at the Governor’s Mansion in Colorado

          The Polis administration went into its finest Larry, Curly, and Moe fire-drill routine last week.   The cause of all the mindless helter skelter was the release of a report first commissioned by former Governor John Hickenlooper on the potential for benzene poisoning in the fracking fields of Colorado.  As many will remember Hickenlooper held fast to the claim that fracking was safe, even as he sleep-walked through his aborted run for president.  Surely this study would prove him right.  It didn’t.

      • Wildlife/Nature

        • BlackRock’s Ghoulish Lack of Action for the Amazon

          As Amazon Watch supporters know, BlackRock is a major investor in the industries driving deforestation and indigenous rights violations in the Amazon.

        • The Capitalist War on the Last American Commons

          The land in question in This Land is Christopher Ketcham’s  brilliant first book is the last wild “American commons”: the federal public lands of the western United States. Comprising many millions of acres of grassland, forest, mountains, valleys, canyons, and steppe, this vast “public trust” is under the deeply compromised supervision of the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Forest Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, and National Parks Service.

      • Overpopulation

        • India needs a more informed debate, better policy design to address population growth

          The mention of a population explosion by the prime minister in his Independence Day speech has rekindled debate on population growth and family planning. The responses have varied. Some have called for a law to limit family size; some others have asked for disincentives for large families. Some have attributed the problem to specific communities.

          It is important to understand the dynamics of population growth for designing an appropriate response. There are two major factors leading to high population growth: [...]

    • Finance

      • UAW President Taking Leave Amid Corruption Probe

        The United Auto Workers announced Saturday that President Gary Jones is taking a paid leave of absence amid a federal investigation of corruption within the union.

      • The Crime of Progress, the Crime of Caste

        Some of Arundhati Roy’s most galvanizing essays describe the ruin of the forest people, whose lands in India were flooded to create huge dams. Over the past fifty years, as many as 56 million people were displaced by Big Dams, many reduced to utter destitution. These ancient villages of “ferrymen, fisher folk, sand quarriers and cultivators of the riverbed” were not compensated for their dispossession. Instead, as Roy writes, “I can warrant that the quality of their accommodation is worse than any concentration camp in the Third Reich…In cities like Delhi, they run the risk of being shot by the police for shitting in public places.” She calls the Indian state “a giant poverty producing machine.”

      • Bernie Sanders Throws Support Behind Deadspin Staffers Who Quit in Protest of Management by ‘Private Equity Vultures’

        “Even Bernie misses Deadspin.”

      • A Lottery of Equality Dispenses Dystopia

        A common refrain in the Democratic Party debates has been support for more equality, the inclusion of those yet to access the American Dream. Most candidates even want to include migrants in their target group and make them eligible for free college and medical care. Expanding the base of successful citizens is what has defined this country, a liberal idea that’s unfortunately remained mostly an idea over the past few generations, especially for the Democratic Party which has left the lower classes behind in its embrace of the market to referee selections, a defaulted endorsement of Milton Friedman: Equality results from individuals and groups freely accessing the market to their advantage. To slightly alter his famous construction, if we demand equality before freedom, market freedom, we get neither; if we demand this freedom before equality, we get both.

      • Two Theories of Democracy

        How ought democracy to be understood? These days this is certainly a weighty and urgent question because there is considerable empirical evidence of deep-seated dissatisfaction within the liberal constitutional democracies and dismay at the persistence of brutal authoritarian regimes throughout the world. In fact, if “democracy” means that citizens have a voice in decision-making affecting their lives, then liberal democracy is either disintegrating (such as in Canada, see Donald Savoie, Democracy in Canada: The Disintegration of Our Institutions (2019) or functions as an oligarchy ruled by ruthless elites.

      • Haitians Reject Their President’s Call for US Intervention as Island Nation Protests Continue

        “We are strong people. We can take care of ourselves.”

      • Haitian Revolt Targeting Canada

        Haiti is the site of the most sustained popular uprising among many that are currently sweeping the globe. It’s also the most explicitly anti-imperialist, which is part of the reason why it has received the least coverage.

      • Not-So-‘Super’ Mario: the Departure of ECB President Mario Draghi

        Mario Draghi ends his term as president of the European Central Bank (ECB) at the end of October. He will do so as the most consequential head of the ECB since the euro’s inception. By substantially expanding the role of the central bank, Draghi likely saved the eurozone from implosion. But much like the preservation of the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria, it’s still unclear whether the preservation of the single-currency union was a worthwhile objective, or simply perpetuated a profoundly flawed system that created misery for millions.

      • ‘Another Gift’ to Big Business as Trump Treasury Moves to Eliminate Rules Against Corporate Tax Avoidance

        Sen. Ron Wyden warned the Treasury Department’s plan “provides an opening for corporations to again dodge their taxes.”

      • ‘Political Corruption in Real Time’: Viral Video Shows North Carolina GOP Sabotaging Democracy in Effort to Secure Corporate Tax Cuts

        “This isn’t just a harmless game. It’s the reason there’s no budget in North Carolina.”

      • Buffeting Boeing CEO’s Rope-a-Dope in Congress

        This past week, Boeing’s deadly 737 MAX crashes were the focus of two back-to-back hearings – one in the Senate and one in the House. In the House Transportation Committee hearing, at least 50 Democrats and Republicans criticized Dennis Muilenburg’s mismanagement and implied criminal negligence. Muilenburg’s actions allowed Boeing’s marketeers to overrule Boeing’s engineers so that Boeing could circumvent FAA’s safety oversight, which had already been diminished by the Congress.

      • Trump to Small Farmers: Get Lost

        Donald Trump’s idea of a good farm program seems to be “Hee Haw.”

      • EU Commission Presents Proposals for Investment Court System in CETA and Announces Plurilateral Treaty to Terminate Intra-EU BITs

        A couple of days before Working Group III of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) held its 38th session on the reform of investment arbitration, the European Commission (the Commission) presented four proposals (the Proposal(s)) to the Council of the European Union (the EU) for specific rules to put into place the Investment Court System (the ICS) provisions in the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (the Agreement or CETA).

        The ICS included in CETA represents a new approach by the EU in relation to investment-related disputes and is the same approach taken in the agreements the EU has negotiated with Singapore, Viet Nam and Mexico, while also being on the table in all on-going investment negotiations.

        The foundation of the ICS is already established in CETA (as discussed here, here and here), however it remains to be applied pending ratification of the Agreement by all of the EU Member States. The Joint Interpretative Instrument on CETA agreed by the EU and Canada in October 2016 includes a commitment to make the system operational as soon as the Agreement enters into force. The Proposals are thus necessary to deliver on this commitment and these rules complete the putting together of the reformed approach to investment dispute settlement under CETA.

        The Proposals themselves concern, firstly, rules setting out the functioning of the Appellate Tribunal to ensure an effective appeal function, which would be the first such appeal function to become operational in international investment agreements.

      • Let’s shrink the City of London finance sector, for prosperity’s sake

        As he points out, and as our Financial Secrecy Index and Corporate Tax Haven Index demonstrate, the UK, with its network of satellite jurisdictions is already arguably THE top global offender in the tax haven game. Awareness of the damage that’s doing to the tax base of poorer countries and the harm that’s doing to real people has been rising for years now.

    • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

      • Another Europe Is Possible

        As harsh austerity and xenophobic nationalist fester in Europe, former Greek finance minister and DiEM25 co-founder Yanis Varoufakis discusses his antidote to the crisis with Tellus Senior Fellow Allen White in the following interview first published at the Great Transition Initiative (GTI) here.

      • Why They Love Trump

        Like many who lean left, even many to the right of center, I find Donald Trump’s contempt for law, disrespect for people, derision of opponents, disdain for facts and truth, erratic and self-serving behavior, and violation of democratic principles of government, frightening.

      • Should You Be Afraid of the Fascists in Your Community?

        I get accused of “being over-the-top” and using hyperbole by conservative friends and acquaintances with increasing frequency. This is caused, in large part, by me being a vocal and active contributor to the public discourse about issues of peace and justice. I am called a “snowflake” for responding to those who support—or even promote—rape culture. My conservative friends say

      • Democrats Can’t Ignore Their Biden Problem Forever

        This week, in a vote that saw only two Democratic defections, the House of Representatives approved a package of ground rules for the impeachment of President Donald Trump. According to The Associated Press, the vote will allow Congress to “transition from weeks of closed-door interviews with witnesses to public hearings and ultimately to possible votes on whether to recommend Trump’s removal from office.” (Republicans, for their part, voted unanimously against, with White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham deriding the opposition’s “unhinged obsession with this illegitimate impeachment proceeding.”)

      • Spare Us From the Vichy Republicans

        Item: Bob Livingston. Remember him? When last seen by the wider public in the waning, innocent years of the 20th century, he was the newly minted designee to succeed Newt Gingrich as Republican Speaker of the House.

      • You really can fool some of the people, all of the time

        Yet their duplicity seems to cost politicians little, if anything, in electoral support. Surveys by YouGov, a pollster, put Mr Johnson’s Conservative Party in the lead in the election due in December. Mr Trump’s job-approval rating, at 43%, is low but only one point below what it was when he took office. No one takes for granted that he will lose next year’s presidential election.

        Why isn’t lying more damaging? One possibility is that lying on a Trumpian scale is so unusual—so frequent, shameless and easily falsified—that people do not know how to react. In tests, between two-thirds and three-quarters of people say they never lie; most of the rest claim to lie fewer than five times a day. It is hard to comprehend someone who goes so far beyond normal, occasional deceitfulness.

      • Twitter Has Been Flooded With ISIS Propaganda Since al Baghdadi’s Death

        The tweets contained the very same content, the same language, and the exact same series of hashtags. While Twitter did much to take them down within the first 24-hours after the announcement of al-Baghdadi’s death, the accounts continued to generate and activate well into the week following his death. Researchers were tracking the accounts late into Friday. One of the accounts @carlasoosa, tweeted out the latest audio recording—as a video that accumulated 43,800 views—of the new ISIS-spokesperson highlighting the achievements of the state and heralding in its new leader, al Qurashi.

      • How Trump Reshaped the Presidency in Over 11,000 Tweets

        More than half of the president’s posts — 5,889 — have been attacks; no other category even comes close. His targets include the Russia investigation, a Federal Reserve that won’t bow to his whims, previous administrations, entire cities that are led by Democrats, and adversaries from outspoken athletes to chief executives who displease him. Like no other modern president, Mr. Trump has publicly harangued businesses to advance his political goals and silence criticism, often with talk of government intervention. Using Twitter, he threatened “Saturday Night Live” with an investigation by the Federal Communications Commission and accused Amazon, led by Jeff Bezos, owner of The Washington Post, of cheating the United States Postal Service.

        As much as anything, Twitter is the broadcast network for Mr. Trump’s parallel political reality — the “alternative facts” he has used to spread conspiracy theories, fake information and extremist content, including material that energizes some of his base.


        “Suddenly there’s a tweet, and everything gets upended and you spent the week trying to defend something else,” said Representative Peter King, Republican of New York. “This person thrives on chaos. What we may find disconcerting or upsetting or whatever, it is actually what keeps him going.”

      • He’s running for governor to run false ads on Facebook. Now Facebook is stopping him

        Adriel Hampton, a political activist, registered as a candidate for California’s 2022 gubernatorial election on Monday so he could take advantage of Facebook’s policy allowing politicians and political candidates to run false ads on the platform.

        On Tuesday evening, a Facebook (FB) spokesperson told CNN Business, “This person has made clear he registered as a candidate to get around our policies, so his content, including ads, will continue to be eligible for third-party fact-checking.”

        Ads from people and groups other than politicians are subject to fact-checking.

        Hampton had pulled the stunt with the hope of forcing the company to change its policy and stop allowing politicians to run false ads.

      • Beto O’Rourke announces he’s dropping 2020 presidential bid
      • ‘Not a Big Fan of Medicare for All’: Pelosi Attacks Plan Backed by Leading 2020 Democrats, Majority of Party

        The House Speaker’s remarks came hours after Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a 2020 Democratic presidential contender, released her proposal to finance Medicare for All.

      • This Man Is Not Leaving Office

        Has anyone seriously considered the untidy spectacle of Trump insisting on staying put? Of insisting that he remain president, no matter what? Coming at it from the other direction, has anyone seen even the slightest hint of evidence indicating Trump will be willing to leave the White House when the time comes?

      • ‘Outrageous’ and ‘Reprehensible’: Trump Gives Taxpayer-Funded Groups Green Light to Discriminate Against LGBTQ People

        “This rule is an abuse of taxpayer dollars in the name of empowering hatred and bigotry towards society’s most vulnerable members.”

      • Los Angeles is Not a Democracy

        It’s the reason why I learned to speak this language – Kamel Daoud

      • Boris, Brexit, and the British Election

        Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Britain’s tousle-haired answer to Donald Trump, came into office promising to leave the European Union by October 31. He declared that he would rather “die in a ditch” than stay in the EU past that date. But by mid-October he had to ask the EU for an extension and, while not dead, Johnson may be lying in a ditch of his own making.

      • Boris Johnson Against Parliament

        A pretty odd thing, this. The prime minister of Britain, supposedly of the conservative creed, making an almost violent dash against both parliament and the courts of law. While his presence is barely a patch on Margaret Thatcher, there is something about the Johnson rabble that reeks of demagogic aspiration. Thatcher, for one, was not a conservative but a neoliberal, a demolisher of institutions rather than their preserver. Society was the enemy; there were only individuals with ambitions, talents and desires.

      • Donald Trump, Mike Pompeo, and the Rise of the ‘Shallow State’

        The unhealthy over-valorization of the military in the United States is a phenomenon that began in earnest with the 1991 Gulf War as a kind of belated, guilt-ridden collective penance for the unforgivable treatment of the Vietnam-era GI. It has since become a permanent part of American culture.

      • On Putin and Press Failures

        I wrote this in 2010. As Stratfor liked it enough to steal it, I’ll republish it here

      • Hillary Clinton’s Hunt for “Russian Assets”
      • The Democratic Office Boy Machine

        Of course the DNC will do it again. The fact that anyone considers that they will play fair is hopelessly out of touch with their history. They will try to thwart the will of their voters through continued reliance on 2nd vote superdelegates and the use of slanted support that will be extended to corporate friendly candidates. They did it the last time around, and less known……. they did it back in 1944 (more about this later). The only way this will stop is through a fear of becoming completely irrelevant and going the way of the Whigs. A new Progressive party that can command decency on the part of their candidates will be coming, whether it is going to be a revamped Democratic party or something else remains to be seen. My guess is the Democrats will try to steal the primary again for their corporate candidate who will lose, and the DNC will become bankrupt (fiscally after the moral) and a new party will have to rise. If the fascism continues on the right from a blown opportunity by the Democrats, these predictions become more weighted with terrifying possibilities.

      • Democrats Make a Huge Mistake If They Just Focus Impeachment on the Ukraine Scandal

        The impeachment theater on display today in the House, bracketed by Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s maudlin reading of Article I of the Constitution, and by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s ludicrous evocation of the Stalin purge trials to characterize the full House vote to establish impeachment rules and procedures, is increasingly looking like the first act of an almost certain impeachment of President Trump.

      • UK General Election and the Chance to Get a Corbyn Government

        Last year, Mexicans elected a leftish leader, López Obrador, who pledged “a Robin Hood institute” (Reuters) to “return everything to the people that’s been stolen” by elites and small-time crooks (Obrador). Argentines recently rejected the creeping rightward trend in South America and also elected a leftish President, Alberto Fernández. In the US, Presidential candidate Bernie “the bomber” Sanders is about as left as is realistically possible in the current political system. Despite suffering a heart-attack, he is continuing to fight off Elizabeth “capitalist to my bones” Warren and Creepy Joe Biden. (The Week reminds us: “[Sanders] voted in favor of Clinton’s pet intervention in Libya, in favor of the interminable war in Afghanistan, and even in favor of multiple funding measures to maintain the war in Iraq — a repeated ‘yes’ to bankrolling the very conflict he so often boasts of opposing.”)

      • Hong Kong activist urges huge turnout for weekend rally

        Hong Kong anti-government protests fizzled on Friday after a night of clashes in a central bar district and prominent pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong called for 100,000 people to take to the streets of the Chinese-ruled city on Saturday.

        Flash mob protests in three shopping malls, promoted by activists online, failed to materialize.

        Black-clad protesters, wearing banned face masks, mingled with fancy-dress Halloween revelers in the narrow, sloping streets of Lan Kwai Fong on Thursday, the first time the bar district had been targeted.

    • Censorship/Free Speech

      • More Indian men than women favour censorship of content on video streaming platforms

        Nine in 10 people in the country feel some form of censorship is required on platforms such as Voot, Netflix, and Hotstar. Over half of them, vouch for censorship to curb what they see as “unsuitable content” for public viewing, according to a new study by YouGov, a UK-based online market research firm.

      • Journalists force Estonia’s largest daily’s editor-in-chief to leave over censorship concerns

        Nineteen journalists of Postimees gave an ultimatum on 1 November, threatening to resign unless the editor-in-chief leaves his post. They said in the ultimatum that Helme had in several occasions attempted to impose a censorship upon the journalists and told them that certain opinions and views were not aligned with the worldview represented by Postimees – an unprecedented approach at the newspaper, according to the journalists.

      • Some Employees Chafe as Google’s New Internal Rules Take Hold

        In another recent example, some employees raised concerns over a mandatory new tool that was added to the Chrome browser on their work computers. An internal employee memo said the tool would automatically report staffers who create a calendar event with more than 10 rooms or 100 participants, which it alleged was “an attempt of leadership to immediately learn about any workers organization attempts.” Google said the tool was merely a “pop-up reminder that asks people to be mindful before auto-adding a meeting to the calendars of large numbers of employees.”

      • Github removes Tsunami Democràtic’s APK after a takedown order from Spain

        Microsoft-owned Github has removed the APK of an app for organizing political protests in the autonomous community of Catalonia — acting on a court takedown request sent by Spain’s Guardia Civil, a national police force with military status.

        As we reported earlier this month supporters of independence for Catalonia have regrouped under a new banner — calling itself Tsunami Democràtic — with the aim of rebooting the political movement and campaigning for self-determination by mobilizing street protests and peaceful civil disobedience.

        The group has also been developing bespoke technology tools to coordinate protest action. It’s one of these tools, the Tsunami Democràtic app, which was being hosted as an APK on Github and has now been taken down.

    • Privacy/Surveillance

      • After Pegasus spying row, India asks WhatsApp to explain privacy breach

        Senior government officials though argued that while WhatsApp had informed CERT-In, or the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team, in May that the app had been [breached] globally and that they had fixed the issue, what they failed to tell New Delhi “or hid from us” was the fact that Indian citizens had been affected by it.

        They added that the communication from the US company in May was “about a technical vulnerability” without any mention of Pegasus or the extent of breach, or that Indians were affected.

        “We met with their high-ranking executives after that but nobody told us that India had also been hit by the spyware. We learnt of it only through news reports after Facebook/WhatsApp filed the lawsuit,” one of the officials told ET.

      • The Fantasy of Opting Out

        If the apparatus of total surveillance that we have described here were deliberate, centralized, and explicit, a Big Brother machine toggling between cameras, it would demand revolt, and we could conceive of a life outside the totalitarian microscope. But if we are nearly as observed and documented as any person in history, our situation is a prison that, although it has no walls, bars, or wardens, is difficult to escape.

        Which brings us back to the problem of “opting out.” For all the dramatic language about prisons and panopticons, the sorts of data collection we describe here are, in democratic countries, still theoretically voluntary. But the costs of refusal are high and getting higher: A life lived in social isolation means living far from centers of business and commerce, without access to many forms of credit, insurance, or other significant financial instruments, not to mention the minor inconveniences and disadvantages — long waits at road toll cash lines, higher prices at grocery stores, inferior seating on airline flights.

        It isn’t possible for everyone to live on principle; as a practical matter, many of us must make compromises in asymmetrical relationships, without the control or consent for which we might wish. In those situations — everyday 21st-century life — there are still ways to carve out spaces of resistance, counterargument, and autonomy.

      • Instead of acknowledging economic slowdown, PM Modi is busy managing headlines: Sonia Gandhi

        Speaking on the WhatsApp snooping row for the first time, she said the Narendra Modi government has been snooping and spying activities on activists, journalists, and political persons through the Israeli Pegasus software acquired by it. “These activities are not only illegal and unconstitutional, they are also shameful,” she said.

      • US Agencies Sued Over Secretive Use of Facial Recognition and Other ‘Dystopian Surveillance Technology’

        “Face and other biometric surveillance technologies,” one ACLU expert warns, “can enable undetectable, persistent, and suspicionless surveillance on an unprecedented scale.”

      • Facebook’s Sues Israeli Malware Marketer With A Lawsuit That Aims To Make An Easily-Abused Law Even More Abusable

        Facebook is suing Israeli exploit developer NSO Group for utilizing WhatsApp to target 1,400 users with malware that allowed NSO’s clients to circumvent the chat app’s end-to-end encryption.

      • Discussion point: Does processing of SaaS login credentials make you a data controller?

        While drafting and negotiating technology agreements, this Kat increasingly comes across an inconsistent interpretation of General Data Protection Regulation as it pertains to the determination of data processing roles when personal data is limited to login credentials, such as person’s name, login identifier and email address, which are necessary to access a SaaS platform. It is not yet clear who acts and on what basis as a data controller and who assumes a processor role within such engagement.


        If the SaaS provider is indeed deemed to be a controller, then data processing agreement (DPA), required by Art. 28(3), becomes unnecessary. This Kat has seen companies entering into a Controller-Controller DPA, which to her seems redundant (unless there is a joint-controllership scenario), because individual controllers do not need to take instructions from the other party and they can solely decide how and why the data is processed.

        It would be sufficient to simply include a contractual representation from a SaaS supplier that such data will only be used for verification purposes and that the vendor warrants compliance with applicable data protection laws. A SaaS business, in turn, should seek a warranty from its customer that all data is collected and provided in compliance with the applicable data protection law.

        Since this aspect of the construction of the GDPR has yet to be clarified by the data protection authorities and the judiciary, it would be great to hear what insights other data protection enthusiasts might have!

      • New PatentlyO Law Journal Article: Alice at Five

        Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank Int’l (commonly known as “Alice”) is no stranger to IP readers and needs little introduction. Briefly, the Supreme Court five years ago decided Alice and raised the patentability standard for (mostly) computer-implemented inventions under 35 U.S.C. § 101, such that implementing an abstract idea on a computer is insufficient to transform that idea into patentable subject matter. At the time, a Supreme Court justice even considered Alice a “minor case” in following its prior § 101 framework set forth in Mayo Collaborative Servs. v. Prometheus Labs., Inc. two years earlier.

        But the reality has been the opposite – Alice has been a major force in patentability determinations under § 101.

        For example, in the first month and a half following Alice’s release, 830 patent applications were withdrawn from the USPTO. At Alice’s one-year anniversary (June 19, 2015), lower courts (namely district courts, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“PTAB”), and the Federal Circuit) applied Alice to invalidate or reject software-based patent claims at an average invalidation rate of 82.9%: 69.7% at the district courts and 94.1% at the Federal Circuit. At Alice’s two-year mark (June 19, 2016), the numbers were slightly lower, at an average cumulative invalidation rate of 78.2%: 66.5% at the district courts and 92.3% at the Federal Circuit. Near the five-year mark (as of March 1, 2019), the cumulative numbers, as shown in Table 1, were even lower (though still the majority); the average cumulative invalidation rate was 56.2%: 53.7% at the district courts and 76.3% at the Federal Circuit.

      • Dr Denis Roio: We want people to have full control over their data

        Our work in the EU-funded DECODE project is being used by Facebook for its new Libra project, through an “acqui-hire” of some of our former colleagues. This choice is an attempt to gain a strategic advantage in this market and establish a monopoly exactly where we intend to create an open field of opportunities for Europe’s digital single market, says Dr Denis Roio, a software artisan, CTO and co-founder of Dyne.org Think &Do Tank and software house, in an interview to Europost.


        With DECODE we have achieved to develop a full stack of tools to run a distributed computing platform and ledger technology featuring end-to-end encryption and privacy by design, something that lowers the liability of any company operating with private data by making it easier to respect the GDPR with less work.

        Among the tools we have developed are a free and open source box to scan European (and all RFID compatible) passports using a simple Raspberry Pi box and a webcam, to produce zero-knowledge proof credentials.

        The most impressive scientific achievement consists of a core component (Zenroom) allowing to write smart-contracts and business rules in simple human language (Zencode). This is a very secure virtual machine executing operations based on what is written in these contracts and the main goal is that of facilitating the review of code by people who don’t know programming languages, but have equally important background knowledge of legal terms. For instance, a data protection officer designated according to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is able to review in great detail the conditions of data as operated and stored even in complex decentralised computing setups.

        Also the “Coconut” academic paper with the rather complex title “Threshold Issuance Selective Disclosure Credentials with Applications to Distributed Ledgers” by colleagues at UCL is a new groundbreaking scientific paper leveraging “zero-knowledge proof” cryptography based on elliptic curves. If this sounds all too complicated let it just be enough to say that the paper caught the attention of Facebook to the point that the company acqui-hired our colleagues to work on the controversial Libra project.

    • Freedom of Information / Freedom of the Press

      • Morocco’s Media: Beacon or Endangered Light?

        In denouncing the RSF assessment of his country, government spokesman Mustapha Khalfi said that organization “deliberately ignored the climate of freedom, openness and plurality enjoyed by newspapers and the media.”

        But today, instead of prosecuting journalists outright, “the government is using penal code articles and attacking journalists for offenses that are seemingly unrelated to their reporting, but in fact they are being punished for their reporting,” says Ahmed Benchemsi, communications director for the Middle East and North Africa division at Human Rights Watch.

      • Prison conditions for Julian Assange are putting his life ‘at risk’: UN expert

        “Unless the UK urgently changes course and alleviates his inhumane situation, Mr. Assange’s continued exposure to arbitrariness and abuse may soon end up costing his life,” the UN special rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, Nils Melzer, said in a statement.

        Melzer, who visited the 48-year-old Australian whistleblower in a London prison on May 9, nearly a month after his arrest at Ecuador’s embassy where he had been holed up for seven years, has previously warned he was being subjected to drawn-out “psychological torture”.

    • Civil Rights/Policing

      • Handing Saudi Arabia the G20 Presidency Despite the Khashoggi Murder is Like Giving it License to Kill

        Aside from the expressions of international outrage last October, the sanctions adopted by Washington, Ottawa, Paris and Berlin against a handful of individuals suspected of involvement in Jamal Khashoggi’s murder have not sufficed to persuade the regime to moderate its repressive policies. Germany was alone in suspending arms sales to Saudi Arabia. US Vice-President Mike Pence suggested that the release of Raif Badawi, a blogger sentenced to ten years in prison and a thousand lashes, would help to restore Saudi Arabia’s international reputation. But just a month before that, US President Donald Trump insisted that Mohammed bin Salman stand beside him in the front row for the group photo of the G20′s leaders during their meeting in Osaka, Japan.

      • No Music for ICE! Open letter from musicians to Amazon

        It has recently come to light that Amazon Web Services, an Amazon subsidiary with known ties to ICE and law enforcement, is hosting a festival marketed as an experience “where music, technology, and art converge.” We the undersigned artists are outraged that Amazon continues to provide the technical backbone for ICE’s human rights abuses (read more). We pledge to not participate in Amazon-sponsored events, or engage in exclusive partnerships with Amazon in the future, until Amazon publicly commits to: [...]

      • Slave markets found on Instagram and other apps

        Drive around the streets of Kuwait and you won’t see these women. They are behind closed doors, deprived of their basic rights, unable to leave and at risk of being sold to the highest bidder.

        But pick up a smartphone and you can scroll through thousands of their pictures, categorised by race, and available to buy for a few thousand dollars.

        An undercover investigation by BBC News Arabic has found that domestic workers are being illegally bought and sold online in a booming black market.

      • Uproar, as Army insists on ‘Operation Identify Yourself’

        “Internal security is police work. And identification of what? And we don’t have national identity card data bank for example. And there are a lot of identity cards that are recognized by the government — drivers licence, national Identity card, ministry identity cards, schools identity cards.

        “There are a lot of identity cards all over the place, and you don’t even know which one is authentic because there is no data bank where you can check for reference.

        “It is just going to be intimidation of Nigerians, making Nigeria a military state and that is unacceptable. It should be discontinued. I praise both the Senate and House of Representatives for actually saying this thing should be discontinued, if at all it is real.

      • Nigerian Army clears air on ‘Operation positive Identification’

        The statement reads: “Following the widespread apprehension on the purported Nigerian Army (NA) operation positive identification from 1 November to 23 December 2019, as mischievously peddled on the social media by a hitherto unknown and fictitious organization the so called Bricks company, which alleges that the NA will conduct the operation and went ahead to state how the operation will be conducted by the Army.

        “Specifically, Bricks alleges that – “residents shall witness large numbers of uniformed Nigerian Army personnel parading the roads in an exercise known as OPI”.

        “The NA wishes to inform members of the public that it has nothing to do with the so called Bricks company and its illusionary OPI, it is not an Army operation and the NA does not create any operation with such name or abbreviation in all its operations across the nation in a manner maliciously presented by the so called Bricks company.

      • Life Without Parole Sentences Rob Taxpayers and Pervert Justice

        Hundreds from across Pennsylvania rallied inside the Rotunda of the Capitol here recently to offer a solution for resolving an enormously expensive problem in state law that plagues the state’s prison system

      • Don’t Call the Police, Call Your Neighbors!

        Here is a hard truth: Police do not keep communities safe.

      • Hollow Promises of a Better Life: Modern Day Slavery

        Despite the fact that slavery has long been abolished it continues to blight our world, destroying the lives of tens of millions of people. The Global Slavery Index (GSI) 2018 estimates there to be 40.3 million slaves in the world; however, given the difficulty of collecting data, the areas that are not included – organ trafficking, child soldiers, or child marriage – and the fact that, as GSI says, there are ‘substantial gaps’ from the Arabs States, where 17.5 million migrants workers live, the actual number will no doubt be a great deal higher.

      • GitHub is trying to quell employee anger over its ICE contract. It’s not going well

        When GitHub Chief Executive Nat Friedman announced on Oct. 9 his company would donate half a million dollars to nonprofits helping communities affected by the Trump administration’s immigration policies, it was a peace offering of sorts.

        Employees had recently learned that the Microsoft-owned software development platform had renewed its 2016 contract with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency.

        In donating the money and making clear his personal disagreement with harsh immigration law enforcement, Friedman appeared intent on averting an internal protest of the sort that has roiled other technology firms whose software powers controversial government policies.

        It didn’t work.

        In the weeks since, frustration has risen among some within GitHub. After promising to address questions on the ICE relationship at a Q&A session scheduled for Oct. 11, executives canceled the meeting, blaming the cancellation on employee leaks, according to an email reviewed by The Times. At an all-hands meeting held Oct. 24, executives did not discuss the results of a quarterly survey showing negative sentiment toward GitHub’s leadership as planned, according to two employees.

        With the issue refusing to go away, GitHub executives have changed their internal messaging, including a memo to employees saying that barring ICE from “access to GitHub could actually hurt the very people we all want to help,” in the words of Chief Operating Officer Erica Brescia.

        “We have learned from a number of nonprofits and refugee advocates that one of the greatest challenges facing immigrants is a lack of technology at ICE and related agencies, resulting in lost case files, court date notifications not being delivered, or the wrong people being charged or deported,” read a companywide posting sent Oct. 22, signed by Brescia and the leadership team.

        Brescia’s letter was a second response to an Oct. 9 open letter from employees calling on GitHub to cancel its contract with ICE. The employees behind it said continuing to work with ICE would make the San Francisco-based company “complicit in widespread human rights abuses.” In the company’s initial response, Friedman said that though he disagreed with the immigration policies ICE is enforcing, canceling the contract would not convince the Trump administration to change them. Friedman also said the revenue from the contract — about $200,000 — was not financially material for the company.

        In response to requests for comment, GitHub referred The Times back to Friedman’s Oct. 9 blog post.

        GitHub is just the latest tech company to face employee resistance to government contracts, particularly those with the Department of Homeland Security. In June 2018, Google, facing employee opposition, said it would not renew its contract to develop artificial intelligence systems for the Pentagon. In the same month, 500 Amazon workers called on executives to stop selling facial recognition to the government, without result. Employees of the e-commerce brand Wayfair walked out of their offices in June 2019 to protest the sale of beds to immigration detention centers.

      • Briefing: Microsoft’s GitHub Employees Still Pushing Back On ICE Contract

        Employees from Microsoft’s GitHub subsidiary are continuing to voice their concerns over the recent decision to renew a software contract with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and least one GitHub employee has resigned in protest, the Los Angeles Times reported.

        The situation illustrates the difficulties large software companies sometimes experience when integrating acquisitions of smaller companies.

        GitHub, which has built a more diverse and inclusive corporate culture in the years following a gender harassment scandal in 2014, is one of several open source companies where employees pay close attention to how their products are used, said Josh McKenty, an executive who has worked at companies that sell open source software.

        “The open source ethos represents a fundamental attitude of being able to control what happens to your work product,” he said.

    • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

      • Russia’s Controversial ‘Sovereign Internet’ Law Comes Into Force

        The so-called “sovereign Internet” law, adopted by lawmakers and signed into law by President Vladimir Putin earlier this year, requires providers to install equipment that could route Russian web traffic through points that are controlled by the state.

        It also includes provisions on the creation of a Russian domestic domain-name system.

      • To Err is Human. To Squat is Criminal.

        The damage created by typosquatting is real both in terms of money, reputation, customer confidence and public safety. That loss it is difficult to quantify because the reporting to authorities is inconsistent and, because those who have been taken in are reluctant to admit to their error, those official records are also incomplete. But CADNA estimates that it costs brand owners worldwide in excess of $1 billion a year.

    • Monopolies

      • Sublicensing considerations in software contracts

        The licensor is usually the primary originator (not necessarily the owner!) of the licensed/sublicensed work. The Licensor’s major concerns relate to safeguarding the proprietary and commercial interests stemming from the work, including adequate compensation and control of the use of work. These concerns are usually addressed either by a sublicensing approval mechanism or pre-emptive sublicensing restrictions embedded in a head licence.

        Approval may problematic because: (i) it involves carrying out due diligence and vetting the respective sublicensee, which may not always be feasible; and (ii) it shifts the burden of compliance monitoring from licensee to the licensor; and (iii) unless qualified or conditioned, it effectively “signs off” on the sublicensing arrangement, which may in certain circumstances mean a waiver of a right to dispute its validity or scope.


        The sublicensee’s primary concern is to ensure the full enjoyment of the licensed product without incurring any liability arising from the acts of the upstream licensors. Understanding what obligations are being imposed within the licensing chains with multiple tiers tends to be a complicated endeavour.

        In a perfect world, the sublicensee should seek a warranty from the licensee/sublicensor that no IP claims are pending and the licensee/sublicensor has all necessary rights to grant a sublicense for the use as anticipated in the sublicensing agreement. If there is a claim, the sublicensor should be required to indemnify for any claims arising from such technology, even if sublicensor is not the one who developed it and undertook no due diligence. It is important for the end user, because there may be no other recourse due to absence of privity with the original licence.

        However, if the middleman is a reseller/paying agent/mere conduit, the sublicensee may not have any leverage to negotiate sublicensing terms, which are usually simply passed down from the original licensor. But, at the very least, sublicensee should seek to specify that its rights are not contingent on the licensor’s receipt of payment from the reseller and that payment in full to the reseller is deemed to be payment in full to the licensor.

        The sublicensee may want to consider entering into a stand-by licence with the licensor pursuant to which upon a termination of a head licence, sublicensee would receive a direct licence from the licensor. Sublicensor should be asked to contractually commit to good faith cooperation with sublicensee’s effort to obtain stand-by licence agreement.

      • Patents and Software Patents

        • RRI and Patenting: a Study of European Patent Governance

          This paper addresses the topic of patenting related to the notion of Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI). Focusing on patents in the field of biotechnology, we assess to what extent current patenting practices of the European Patent Organization, and more specifically of its executive body, the European Patent Office (EPO) align with RRI principles. We first argue for including patenting as a relevant topic in the context of RRI and then provide an operationalisation of RRI principles that functions as an analytic tool in the article. We find that the dimensions of RRI currently do not have a strong position in the EPO. Subsequently, we discuss the potential for improving the alignment of the EPO with RRI principles. We conclude the article with some final reflections on the applicability of RRI to the policies and practices of the European Patent Organization.

        • In-house predict ‘university-style model’ after inventor compensation ruling

          Lawyers say that the UK Supreme Court’s judgment in Shanks v Unilever is likely to result in changes to business practice and an uptick in compensation claims

        • What was the relevant undertaking? Further comments on Unilever v Shanks [2019] UKSC 45

          Section 40(1) UKPA states that, when considering if an employee should be awarded compensation for his invention, the court should have “regard among other things to the size and nature of the employer’s undertaking”. In the UKSC decision, Lord Kitchin reasoned that the Hearing Officer and lower courts had erred in their interpretation of the appropriate “undertaking” of Professor Shanks employer. The “undertaking” to be considered, according to the UKSC, was not that of Unilever as a whole. The relevant undertaking was instead that of the Unilever subsidiary by which Professor Shanks was directly employed (CRL), whilst also taking account of the commercial relationship between CRL and Unilever as a whole.

          In order to establish the correct “employer undertaking” in the case in question, Lord Kitchin observed that in many situations relating to employee compensation, identification of the appropriate undertaking “will be comparatively straightforward. It will be the whole or, if it is divided into economic units, the relevant unit of the employer’s business” (para. 41). However, the case in question was a different and more difficult case.

          Unilever argued that the relevant undertaking was Unilever as a whole. In particular it was argued that it was “unreal to treat CRL as the relevant undertaking because it never generated any material revenues, was not the beneficiary of the royalties in question and is and was simply a service company for the Unilever group” (para. 45). Furthermore, the £24.3m benefit from the Shanks Patents went to the Unilever group as a whole. By contrast, Professor Shanks argued that the relevant undertaking was that of CRL. Particularly, CRL was Professor Shanks’ direct employer and the entire Unilever group could not sensibly be described as CRL’s undertaking (para. 45).

          Lord Kitchin opted for an approach that lay between these two extremes. The analysis, according to Lord Kitchin, should have a more practical and commercial focus. In particular, the question to ask was what would have been the expected benefit of a patent originating from a research facility such as CRL, operating as part of the larger Unilever group, to Unilever as a whole?


          £2m compensation is the largest amount of compensation that has been awarded to an employee-inventor under Section 40. Lord Kitchin agreed with the Hearing Officer that a “fair share” of the benefit derived by Unilever from the patents was 5%. Lord Kitchin disagreed with Professor Shanks’ argument that a fair share would have been between 10-20%, given that, amongst other factors, the patent had been exploited at no risk to Unilever. Lord Kitchin agreed with the Hearing Officer at first instance that 5% was fair given that 1) Professor Shanks was employed to invent and, in making the invention, did what he was employed to do. Furthermore, the benefit of the patents was brought to fruition by Unilever’s negotiation of the licences (something in which Professor Shanks played no part) (para. 91).

        • Shanks v Unilever – A Fair Share At Last

          The Supreme Court handed down its judgment on 23 October 2019, marking the end of a 13-year struggle between the inventor, Prof Ian Shanks, and Unilever for compensation in relation to an invention relating to disposable glucose monitoring equipment.

          The judgment of the Supreme Court provides valuable guidance on the matters to be taken into account when assessing the benefit of an invention, and the amount of compensation to be awarded to the inventor. However, it may encourage conglomerates who currently employ inventors in a small subsidiary within the larger group of companies to re-structure so that inventors are directly employed by a larger manufacturing company in the group, so that the “employer’s undertaking” is a larger entity and thus a higher threshold is set when assessing whether the invention has provided an “outstanding benefit”.


          The Supreme Court did however decide to apply to the 5% share an uplift to reflect the impact of time on the value of money. The original 5% of £24 million (£1.2 million) was thus uplifted to an award of £2 million to Prof Shanks.


          The persistence of Prof Shanks has provided, in the decision of the Supreme Court, important guidance as to the manner in which a claim for compensation under Section 40 is to be dealt with in future.

        • Wilson v. Martin (Fed. Cir. 2019)

          Ever since the Supreme Court’s decision in Dickerson v. Zurko, decisions from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (whether in ex parte examination or any of the many varieties of actions before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board) involving questions of fact are treated on appeal with almost overwhelming deference. This lesson was learned again by the losing party in an interference, styled Wilson v. Martin, where the PTAB held the claims corresponding to the count in the interference were anticipated by the prior art.


          The standard of review for this Board determination is abuse of discretion (an even more deferential standard) and the Federal Circuit held that the Board’s decision here satisfied those criteria. The opinion notes two distinctions in support of its decision. The first is that the purported arguments made in the related prosecution were made regarding an embodiment of the Toner invention different from the ones at issue here (specifically, Figure 8b, rather than Figure 8a which the Board relied upon here). The purportedly inconsistent argument is based, according to the opinion, on the different configuration of the two embodiments and are thus not inconsistent and do not raise the estoppel. The second basis for finding no abuse of discretion is that “Martin’s current position is not clearly inconsistent with Corning’s prior statements because those statements were made in a different context and were part of a different evidentiary record,” specifically that the claims in the earlier, related patent were directed to the structural components of the apparatus rather than methods for culturing cells with it. Indeed, according to the panel opinion the claims of this earlier patent did not recite the “ambient gas” limitation. Finally, the Court held that the differences in context between ex parte examination and the interference here (specifically the expert testimony) was sufficient to support the conclusion that the Board did not abuse its discretion.

          Of course, anyone familiar with interference practice will recognize that a finding of anticipation of one party’s claims in interference will usually result in the moving party’s claims also being held to be anticipated, and that is the final conclusion in the opinion, i.e., all claims in interference were held anticipated by the Toner reference. The Federal Circuit, at least, awarded Martin its costs.

        • Idenix Pharmaceuticals LLC v. Gilead Sciences Inc. (Fed. Cir. 2019)

          Judge Newman dissented; it must be said that the tone of the dissent, and that of a footnote in the majority opinion regarding the dissent, denotes a certain impatience on the part of both authors. Judge Newman contends that “[t]he large number of unclaimed chemical variants in the specification are not described, not synthesized, and not tested for antiviral activity” and thus “[i]t is incorrect to include these variants in the claims and then to invalidate the claims because these variants are not described and not enabled.” The Judge believes that a reasonable jury could have considered the claims as being limited to the much smaller number of species exemplified in the specification and thus both enabled and adequately described. She characterizes the majority’s enablement theory as flawed for requiring description of “unclaimed and unsupported subject matter,” and states that “a reasonable jury could have understood that subject matter that is unclaimed is irrelevant to validity under section 112.”


          In her own way, Judge Newman is putting her appellate thumb as heavily on the scale as did the majority, but in contrast, her jurisprudence would preserve the patent within the scope of the disclosure while absolving Gilead of infringement, while the majority’s approach seems to be to interpret the claims broadly to reach the conclusion that they are invalid.

        • Sens. Urge Changes At USPTO To Improve Patent Quality

          Members of a Senate panel said at a hearing Wednesday that they are concerned that too many patents are being found invalid and discussed what the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office could do differently to issue better patents that are less vulnerable to challenges.

          The Senate Judiciary Committee’s intellectual property subcommittee convened the hearing to explore how to keep the office from issuing what the senators called “poor quality patents” that are ultimately found invalid as anticipated, obvious or lacking proper scope and written description.

        • Senate Hearing on Patent Quality Today

          Later today, the Senate will hold a hearing on how Congress can help prevent the issuance of poor quality patents. I recently testified at a hearing on the STRONGER Patents Act and patent quality was one of the topics discussed. In fact, in my responses to questions for the record from Sen. Tillis, I addressed exactly this topic. In particular, I identified proposals from one of today’s witnesses—Prof. Melissa Wasserman—to provide examiners with more time to conduct examination and to restructure USPTO fees to reduce USPTO reliance on post-grant fees.

          The use of randomized trials for examination improvements, suggested by another witness at today’s hearing, Prof. Colleen Chien, would also help ensure that changes to examination can be shown to have positive impacts, rather than simply asserting that the changes are necessary. Prof. Chien has also suggested that there are subtle failures in the U.S. examination process that can be detected by comparison to peer patent offices such as the European Patent Office. Once detected, procedures can be implemented that will, for example, reduce U.S. examiner unwillingness or inability to rely on non-patent prior art.

        • A case for our times: Ambiguity, insufficiency and uncertainty (Anan Kasei v Neo [2019] EWCA Civ 1646)

          Readers may be tired of the current political milieu of ambiguity and uncertainty. Thankfully, this is a patent case, not another episode in the UK’s political drama. In Neo v Anan Kasei([2019]EWCA Civ 1646) the Court of Appeal again considered the thorny issue of insufficiency, both the Kirin-Amgenand the Biogen kind. The Court first had to construe the meaning of the term “consisting essential of” in the claim. The Court then had to determine if the invention could be performed and if the invention was disclosed by the patent across the whole scope of the claim.


          The claim in the case in question defined the ceric oxide in terms of its functional properties. Neo argued that the claim therefore amounted to a wish list and was not enabled across its entire scope. The claim particularly specified that the ceric oxide “has a specific surface area of not smaller than 30.0 m2/g when subjected to calcination at 900°C for 5 hours.”

          Neo argued that the surface area of ceric oxide is greatly influenced by its morphology. Furthermore, ceric oxide morphology is itself highly dependent on the method of synthesis. As such, Neo argued that the claim covered subject-matter that owed nothing to the technical contribution of the patent. Particularly, a wide range of ceric oxide morphologies were possible under the scope of the claim but the patent only enabled those that could be produced by the methods disclosed in the specification.

          However, Lord Justice Floyd found that Neo’s mere assertion that there were embodiments covered by the patent that could not be made was not enough: “Neo had to go further. They had to positively establish that there were structures which were covered by the claim which could not be made with the benefit of that teaching…the missing link in Neo’s case, as it seems to me, is the lack of any evidence that there are structures which fall within the claim but which could not be made using the body of teaching in the patent” (para. 59-61).

          Lord Justice Floyd’s reasoning chimes with the Case Law of the Boards of Appeal, which states that “an application may only be objected to for lack of sufficient disclosure if there are serious doubts, substantiated by verifiable facts” (Case Law of the Boards of Appeal, II, C.6.1.4).

          Lord Justice Floyd therefore upheld the High Court’s decision, and rejected Neo’s insufficiency attack.

        • Promoting the Useful Arts: How can Congress prevent the issuance of poor quality patents?

          Testimony from PTO Commissioner Drew Hirshfeld; Professors Polk Wagner, Melissa Freeney Wasserman, Colleen Chien; and Former PTO Acting Driector Teresa Stanek Rea. Sen. Tillis began with his remarks with a statement that about the “madness” of patent eligibility, including the Chamberlain case that found a garage door opener to lack patent eligibility. “No one can blame the USPTO” for this situated by the courts. That said, Sen. Tellis is looking for a consensus option.

        • Copied What?: Secondary Indicia of Nonobviousness

          Liqwd’s U.S. Patent 9,498,419 covers a method for bleaching hair that includes maleic acid (0.1% – 50% by weight) alongside a bleaching formulation and without any hair coloring agent. The maleic acid apparently protects the hair from some damage caused by the bleaching agent. L’Oreal filed a post grant review (PGR) challenge soon after the patent issued, and the PTAB eventually concluded that the claims would have been obvious.


          To be clear, L’Oreal did not copy Liqwd’s product (Liqwd didn’t have one at the time covered by the patent), but rather copied (allegedly copied) Liqwd’s technology after obtaining a copy of its yet-unpublished patent application.

          Copying by a competitor is a classic objective indicia of nonobviousness. As the story goes, if the innovation were obvious, the competitor wouldn’t have needed to copy. Here, however, the PTAB ruled that this copying didn’t count because ““copying requires the replication of a specific product” and “cannot be established without showing that Petitioner copied a patented product, rather than Patent Owner’s technology generally.” PTAB Final Written Decision, quoting Iron Grip Barbell Co., Inc. v. USA Sports, Inc., 392 F.3d 1317 (Fed. Cir. 2004).

      • Trademarks

        • Benelux Court of Justice rules on use of a well-known trade mark in a work of art

          The Benelux Court of Justice recently handed down an interesting decision on the use of a well-known trade mark in a work of art [decision here, in Dutch]. Non-Benelux readers might not be familiar with this supranational court common to the Benelux countries: it exists to rule on issues arising from various treaties between the Benelux countries, including the Benelux Convention on Intellectual Property [here]. This Convention provides the material basis for Benelux trade mark and design law. As such, the Benelux Court of Justice is the highest judicial instance for trade mark and design law in the Benelux.


          The Court observed that Benelux case law on the issue is scarce. The only case more or less on point was a 2011 decision by the District Court of the Hague, where an artist made a Picasso-inspired collage called Darfurnica which centred around a small boy holding a Louis Vuitton bag—according to the court, this did not infringe Louis Vuitton’s registered designs [see here, decision in Dutch]. Incidentally, the same case was brought in France, where the outcome was different and Louis Vuitton prevailed [see here]. One wonders to what extent the different outcome might be related to the fact that in France, it was brought as a copyright case.

          In the end, the Brussels court asked the Benelux Court of Justice to weigh in on the matter. Put briefly, it asked (i) whether artistic expression can constitute due cause for using a trade mark and (ii) if so, under what conditions [the referring decision, also in Dutch, can be found here].

          In a rather concise opinion, the Benelux Court of Justice held that the concept of “due cause” also appears in Article 5(2) of the Trade Mark Directive [providing protection for well-known marks] and that it must be explained in the same manner. It turned to CJEU C-65/12 Leidseplein Beheer [here], where the CJEU established that ‘due cause’ may also relate to the “subjective interests” of a third party using a trade mark or a similar sign. The Benelux Court then cited Recital 27 of Directive 2015/2436, the (new) Trade Mark Directive, which states that use of a mark “for the purpose of artistic expression should be considered as being fair as long as it is at the same time in accordance with honest practices in industrial and commercial matters”.

        • AIPLA 2019: USPTO attorneys advise on TM use best practices

          USPTO attorneys explain why white backgrounds can raise red flags

        • Rubik’s Cube: a tricky trademark puzzle

          Lawyers react after the EU General Court again rules on the validity of the Rubik’s Cube as a trademark, 20 years after the question was first asked

      • Copyrights

        • BREAKING: High Court of England and Wales weighs in on communication to the public and linking

          This morning the High Court of England and Wales ruled in an important case – a “test case” according to the court – concerning the right of communication to the public over the internet, including linking in the aftermath of the CJEU judgment in GS Media [Katposts here], as well as other communication to the public cases.


          The case concerned the activity of TuneIn (both mobile app and website), an internet radio which provides a service (TuneIn Radio, available both for free and as a premium service, so that the service is monetized through ads or subscriptions) that enables users to access radio stations around the world.

          TuneIn’s apps are also pre-installed on a number of devices (eg, Bose, Sonos and Sony PlayStation).

          As a result, TuneIn Radio is now available on over 200 platform connected devices (smartphones, tablets, televisions, car audio systems, smart speakers, and wearable technologies) and has links to over 100,000 radio stations, broadcast by third parties from many different geographic locations around the world.

          To facilitate searching, browsing and playback of audio content, TuneIn collects and stores metadata about content being transmitted by internet radio stations. The metadata is used to assist with search optimization, to display stations to browsing users and to display during playback. TuneIn does not, however, collect, transmit or store any third party audio content; it connects the users to – and therefore relies upon – third party radio stations’ streams.

          The claimants, Warner Music and Sony Music, own or hold the exclusive licences to copyright in sound recordings of music and together account for more than half the market for digital sales of recorded music in the UK and about 43% globally.

        • Just Another Day In Academic Publishing: Professor Posts His Own Article On His Own Website, Gets Takedown Notice Alleging Copyright Infringement

          William Cunningham is a professor of psychology at the University of Toronto. Like many academics, he posts his own articles on his own Web site to help spread knowledge and boost his standing in the academic community.

        • ‘Demonoid’ Moves Away From .to Domain to Distance Itself From Scam Site

          The new Demonoid website, launched by staffers of the original community earlier this year, has moved to a new domain name. The site moved away from the .to domain name to avoid confusion with an obvious scam site. In addition, the operators believe that the Tonic registry isn’t as private as some think.

        • ‘Pirate’ IPTV Reseller Boom Media Sued in the United States

Openwashing Reports Made Obsolete When Openwashing and ‘Open Source’ Become Almost the Same (De Facto Indistinguishable)

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, OSI at 7:01 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Software Freedom won’t be accomplished with proprietary things like Chrome, GitHub, Linux-powered surveillance ‘clouds’ and Linux-based listening devices

Weekly openwashing report

Summary: Openwashing and similar tactics have helped malicious software portray itself as the very opposite of what it really is (and confuse the public to the detriment of Software Freedom); even the concept of "Ethics" has been hijacked

“Open Source has won!”

How many headlines like these have we seen in recent years?

What they mean to say is, the openwashing of proprietary software is “mission accomplished!”

“This phenomenon is like a “Cancer” or “Disease” or “Disaster” and over the past month about 80-90% of news articles I’ve seen about “Open Source” aren’t about Free/libre software but some phony ‘open’ thing that’s actually proprietary software (or gateway towards it).”“Microsoft is an Open Source company…”

How many articles and sometimes headlines tell us that ludicrous lie?

Seriously. How many? Loads. We responded to a wave of these articles last month. It wasn’t the first such wave. Think of it as the journalistic equivalent of articles/headlines that tell us Facebook values privacy (usually parroting what some lying executives from Facebook publicly said).

We get the same feeling any time European Patent Office (EPO) presidents like Campinos or Battistelli tell us they value “Quality”, “Transparency”, “Respect” and so on.

“To me, personally, the whole Open Source ‘movement’ (more of a corporate campaign) is dead.”Over a month ago we ended our Openwashing Reports altogether — just a week or two (fortnight) after we spoke of the need to make these daily rather than weekly because the “openwashing” phenomenon had spread spectacularly. This phenomenon is like a “Cancer” or “Disease” or “Disaster” and over the past month about 80-90% of news articles I’ve seen about “Open Source” aren’t about Free/libre software but some phony ‘open’ thing that’s actually proprietary software (or gateway towards it).

To me, personally, the whole Open Source ‘movement’ (more of a corporate campaign) is dead. Unless its goal all along was just to hijack the FSF’s work and then ‘defuse’ it. If that was the goal, then well done, you’re succeeding. The FSF lost almost half of its Board members in a month.

“Open Source is dead. Long live (or be resurrected) Free software.”So later today we will, as usual for Sundays, have an extensive section on “openwashing” in our Daily Links; there’s too much of it all to break down and explain individually. That used to take many hours every weekend when we did the “Openwashing Report”; how many hours? All in all, nearly 7 hours per week. That’s too much. Let’s instead put it like this. Open Source is dead. Long live (or be resurrected) Free software.

So-called ‘journalists’ who write stuff like “Open Source has won!” wouldn’t know Software Freedom if it hit them right in the face. They’re more like corporate writers going by the official ‘script’ — like the people who nowadays run Linux.com while promoting proprietary software in their personal sites (‘on the side’; also promoting non-Linux stuff and bashing Linux). Two examples of this yesterday (SAP), but we won’t link to either of these…

As for the official “Open Source” site (OSI), look under “Sponsors”. Microsoft is listed there three times — more than any other company! It figures. From publishing the Halloween Documents (exposing Microsoft’s attack on “Open Source”) to be sponsored by Microsoft, which lies about “Open Source” and attacks in all sorts of ways (still). Whose mission was accomplished?

Facebook and Other Surveillance Capitalists Won’t Save Mozilla From Google Dependence

Posted in Deception, Google, Search at 6:15 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Techrights looks deeper at (and under) the guts of the spying industry and the Surveillance Capitalists who drive it (or subsidise it); this is part of an ongoing series of investigative reports

Privacy abuses in so-called ‘privacy’ (or supposedly privacy-centric) services is truly out of control; it is rampant. Techrights is doing a long-term investigation into it, and it will occasionally release known and confirmed facts.

Consider the System1/Startpage scandal which we revisited some days ago. Things aren’t as they seem (or marketed). “I’ve asked Mozilla at its subreddit if it has gotten an investment by System1,” one person told us. We’ve actually heard from quite a few concerned people lately. It’s no secret that Mozilla receives a lot of money from Google (search engine placement) and for a while it explored doing the same with Microsoft through Yahoo! — a decision we strongly condemned at the time.

“How do people assume Mozilla is making money? It doesn’t grow on trees and there are big salaries to be paid.”Mozilla constantly talks about privacy; but it also endlessly uses words like “telemetry” — a euphemism for spying that Microsoft too loves to use. How do people assume Mozilla is making money? It doesn’t grow on trees and there are big salaries to be paid. Watch some of these figures (especially top-level management, as we noted back in August):

Mozilla Foundation salaries
Click or zoom in if the fonts are too fine

So what’s Mozilla’s corporate/financial strategy (it’s a corporation, not a charity)? Sometimes one just needs to check who’s being put in charge, for example:



At the moment we’re still investigating who exactly pays Mozilla and what for. It’s not just about Mozilla, either. The Foundation’s IRS filings are completed with all the figures one needs to understand the Foundation, but not the Corporation. The latter isn’t a public company and therefore this kind of stuff isn’t in the public domain.

“But these sorts of suspicions are what happens when the business model of a company depends so heavily on Surveillance Capitalists.”Mozilla is careful not to blast Google ‘too much’; we know why. We know who pays Mozilla, but we don’t know how much. The complaints about Chrome taking much of Firefox’s market share typically come from former or departing Mozilla staff, not current workers. If Mozilla’s strategy is moving away from Surveillance Capitalists, then excellent. Power to you, Mozilla. But if not, then you’re just swapping masters and anything said about privacy would be mostly a decoy. Your biggest asset — and you know it — is the large number (albeit declining) number of users and their browsing habits.

“Companies love telling us that the sole risk to one’s privacy is “advertisers”; they don’t talk about nations and armies that leverage data (“intelligence”) for manipulation and blackmail. That would kind of freak/creep out some people.”Outsourcing DNS lookups to Cloudflare (from one’s ISP, which is based in one’s own nation) has led to an outcry and Mozilla publicly denying (to ZDNet; Asa D. told me that himself directly) that Cloudflare was paying for this. But these sorts of suspicions are what happens when the business model of a company depends so heavily on Surveillance Capitalists. As we shall show in future parts of this series, the Surveillance Capitalists can also be banks looking to benefit some military interests. Companies love telling us that the sole risk to one’s privacy is “advertisers”; they don’t talk about nations and armies that leverage data (“intelligence”) for manipulation and blackmail. That would kind of freak/creep out some people.

The European Union is Harmed by EPO Abuses

Posted in Europe, Patents at 2:08 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

…and Elżbieta Bieńkowska (European Commission) Should Tackle Rather Than Ignore This

EC blocking EPO employees
A new low: blocking EPO employees.

Summary: When EU officials openly reaffirm the widespread perception that they’re disinterested/apathetic about EPO abuses they merely inherit the burden of EPO corruption, eroding trust in the EU as well

THE TIME is 4AM on a Sunday. I am frustrated. I’m unable to not think about this. Why are our elected politicians still ignoring the situation at the European Patent Office (EPO)? And yes, I do vote in European elections. I am in favour of the EU and always have been. This is a matter of public record; I’ve never hidden this. In order for the EU — and for Europe as a whole — to remain strong it needs to demonstrate a certain resistance and perseverance in the face of lobbying, bribery, and blackmail. It needs to tackle issues such as tax evasion, air pollution, privacy abuses and so on. This year’s copyright directive did major damage to the EU’s reputation and last year’s appointment of António Campinos (former EU person) as Battistelli‘s successor does not inspire confidence. He had been elected a year before that after a rigged (by Battistelli) process and a Council of unelected officials — mostly heads of national patent offices (NPOs) — just rubberstamped Battistelli’s choice (of a friend, a compatriot from elite French schools).

“Some time in 2017 or 2018 it already seemed like software patents were ‘finished’ in the US, but Trump proved us wrong by putting a litigation ‘mole’ (and his former business partner) in charge of the world’s most important patent office.”At the start of the year we stopped covering 35 U.S.C. § 101 affairs in order to better (or more often) focus on EPO abuses. It had become clear to me — more so after the visit to Berlin — that the EPO issues were “close to home” and a lot more urgent than anything that went on in the US. That was weeks before Iancu circulated a memo about gutting (or ignoring) 35 U.S.C. § 101. Some time in 2017 or 2018 it already seemed like software patents were ‘finished’ in the US, but Trump proved us wrong by putting a litigation 'mole' (and his former business partner) in charge of the world's most important patent office. We didn’t stop covering this scandal; it’s just that we typically ‘shelve’ articles on this topic in Daily Links (we have a relatively new section, “Patents and Software Patents,” which can be found further down among the headings).

The European patent crisis and its full impact may take time to materialise because patents last a couple of decades and any European Patent wrongly granted today can have a negative effect for as long as a generation if not longer. The word “crisis” as in “European patent crisis” isn’t an overstatement but an understatement. The word was used even by the Council a few years ago; it had finally realised it could not just sweep the problems under a rug somewhere. But its response was weak and they wanted us to believe that a presidential shuffle alone would magically resolve things; their eventual ‘choice’ of President (actually Battistelli’s choice) undermined that very premise as less than a year after he began the work at the Office staff was already organising to go on strike and indeed, the following year staff started protesting (that was last month). Nothing is improving. From what I can gather, having covered the subject on a daily basis for more than five years, things ‘quietly’ get worse. It all gets worse over time, under the veneer of attitudinal change. Sure, Campinos may not come across as overly temperamental like Battistelli; but is temperament the most important thing? Many people out there have fallen for ‘charm’ and lost sight of policies; they’d use Macron, Obama, Trudeau and even Merkel as examples of “left-leaning” leaders; but their underlying policies are often characterised as “neo-liberal” — a widely misunderstood if not distorted term — meaning unfavourable to workers and favourable to ‘owners’ of these workers. We’re seeing much of the same at the EPO these days. Examiners can feel it. They can really feel it. They hardly feel valued; some feel dispensable. This might be normal in some gift shop or something, where training new workers would not take long so staff turnover isn’t a massive business risk. But patent offices are different and talent retention (or experience) is vital to all.

“The European patent crisis and its full impact may take time to materialise because patents last a couple of decades and any European Patent wrongly granted today can have a negative effect for as long as a generation if not longer.”At the end of last week the EPO posted several dozen tweets from EPOPIC that spoke of replacing workers (such as searchers) with the “magic” of “hey hi” (AI). I responded to the EPO in Twitter about half a dozen times; it’s troubling that they’d have us believe all jobs can be replaced with machines while maintaining the same level of service; to managers this may make economic sense (to them alone), but at what cost? They’re passing all the cost and the risk to other people, e.g. by granting invalid patents or carrying out sloppy searches that won’t yield relevant documents (pertaining to prior art). Where does that leave the European public, let alone examiners? We have, over the past year, published numerous documents that show examiners’ concern. They’re very well aware of the decline in patent quality, knowing the possible ramifications for everyone’s jobs — not only at the EPO but also outside the EPO. Each monopoly granted does not necessarily make society (or “the economy”) better off. Monopolies are limitation factors, not enablement factors. Similarly, each time a new law gets passed, that’s an additional thing being banned or being criminalised. New laws — unless they’re actually the undoing of some existing laws — merely provide more ‘tools’ by which to frame/render a business or a person “criminal”; hence, not each law being passed represents progress. And again, going back to patents, not every patent being granted implies more innovation; not every patent represents invention (evergreening being a good example of this point).

Trying to ‘lecture’ the general public about patent law isn’t easy; when I explain this to my mother, for example, she fails to even grasp what patents actually are. She thinks that the word is a synonym of “invention”; “When you invent something,” she told me, “that’s a patent…”

“Monopolies are limitation factors, not enablement factors.”As if it just ‘happens’. You come up with something and magically a patent comes into existence.

A lot of people don’t know how patent laws and principles work, why patent law exists, since when it has existed, who benefits from it, and the range of industries it covers.

It is, however, easier to explain to the general public — colloquially speaking — EPO scandals pertaining to finances, nepotism, and an assault on the separation of powers (the notion that when you’re dissatisfied with an illegal outcome you can resort/turn to an independent branch to reassess this outcome).

Occasionally people write to me either to ask me to contact the “big media” (corporate publishers) or to ask me why I don’t contact it. The latter is a loaded question as I constantly try to get media to pay attention to newer/latest scandals. 5+ years down the line, based on many experiences, I had to reach the conclusion that some writers are eager to cover the matter; but their bosses (publishes/editors/site owners) actively prevent that. Over time I also learned about threatening letters from the EPO and bribes from the EPO. This is how the rogue EPO mastered media control. They ‘sell’ Campinos as some kind of very kind saviour; This ‘charm offensive’ targets not only media but also politicians, some of whom are of course keeping themselves (mis)informed by the media.

“5+ years down the line, based on many experiences, I had to reach the conclusion that some writers are eager to cover the matter; but their bosses (publishes/editors/site owners) actively prevent that.”Days ago I learned that the European Commission’s Elżbieta Bieńkowska [1, 2] is now blocking people who raise concerns about corruption in Europe’s patent system. Yes, actually blocking!

What does that say about her and — by extension — EU officials? Not good, Miss Bieńkowska, not good…

This is the kind of attitude that causes people to vote for leaving the EU and choose rather obscene parties instead (like that ridiculous “Brexit Party” with only one single policy!), based perhaps on the misguided assumption that they’re the “lesser evil”.

An EPO insider has just shared a screenshot to that effect and wrote [1, 2, 3]: “It seems that Mrs Elżbieta Bieńkowska is no longer interested in the ongoing unrests, the deteriorating working conditions and deplorable social situation at the EPO. She is now blocking concerned citizens without ever having had a conversation! #patents #deception #Europe [...] To turn a blind eye to the rule of law, remarkable behaviour for an EU representative, to say the least! #patents #deception #Europe [...] Perhaps she should ask herself who is paying her generous salary, right? Ahhh the #EuropeanCommission , alright then…”

“This is the kind of attitude that causes people to vote for leaving the EU and choose rather obscene parties instead (like that ridiculous “Brexit Party” with only one single policy!), based perhaps on the misguided assumption that they’re the “lesser evil”.”Will (or would) those same European officials let the EPO control the legal system and enforce it at a higher level, EU-wide, without national courts having a say? That would be madness. It would also be illegal and unconstitutional (which is likely worse than the more ordinary “illegal” because laws change over time; constitutions are more stringent). Imagine giving the EPO — a notoriously corrupt institution — more power to decide on patent scope in a couple dozen countries! Watch this new tweet from proponents of software patents in Europe; they continue to rely on the EPO (an office that violates its own law, or the EPC) rather than actual, outside, independent courts.

Incidentally, and perhaps in a somewhat timely fashion, people posted a lot of comments about the EPO and the EPC at IP Kat yesterday and the day before that. “Proof of the pudding” (a regular commenter who has not said much since IP Kat started censoring many comments critical of the EPO) wrote:

So, the Board is of the view that “the EPC provides a complete system for determining whether a priority right has been correctly claimed, and that the issue may be resolved by the EPO without reference to national law”.

I would have thought that it was, in fact, the Paris Convention that “provides a complete system for determining whether a priority right has been correctly claimed”. If the EPC contains any different or additional requirements, then that surely means that the EPC Contracting States are contravening their obligations under the Paris Convention.

From that point onwards the Paris Convention started to be debated yet more. “The Convention Watchdog” wrote:

Looking into the Board’s communication reveals that the relevant paragraphs 27 and 28 are entitled “The EPC and the Paris Convention are a complete System”. In fact the provisions of the EPC and the Paris Convention are identical as far as they are relevant for the contested legal issues in this case.

Let’s start with some basic facts; the EPO violates the EPC all the time (EPO staff can attest to that; the union and representatives routinely spoke about this). The Boards themselves likely operate in violation of the EPC (not their fault but Battistelli’s) while he’s trucking millions of EPO euros to his friends in Paris (no connection to the Paris Convention).

“The Boards themselves likely operate in violation of the EPC (not their fault but Battistelli’s) while he’s trucking millions of EPO euros to his friends in Paris (no connection to the Paris Convention).”So whatever the context of the above comments (we mentioned that post some days ago), they might be inadvertently overlooking the fact that these Boards lack independence — by their very own admission — and are thus unable to rule properly. Again — it is not their fault! They’re the victims here. They have the courage and the sincerity to state out in public that Battistelli robbed their autonomy. It’s an extremely risky thing to do; they did that several times in the past. Similarly, as the next commenter’s name put it, “EPO is not to blame but the applicant”. Here’s what that comment said:

The annex to the summons is published by now [it wasn't before]


Anybody thinking that the EPC is a complete system and the Paris convention another and different complete system is playing with words and at the brink of bad faith.

As the provisions of the Paris convention and of the EPC are identical as far as they are relevant for the contested legal issues in this case, it should lead to the conclusion that the long standing line of case law at the EPO should be kept.

The question raised by the Board of Appeal is remarkable in its simplicity and the answer is obvious.

If A and B are the original applicants of the priority application, in order to benefit of the priority, both have to be the applicants of the subsequent applications, unless one of the original applicants transfers his right of priority to the second one, or both transfer their right of priority to a third party. The only aspect which touches the EPO when determining who the successor in title is legal regime under which those transfer of rights have been validated.

Disputing the ownership of an application once filed is different from deciding upon the right of priority, although in both cases the EPC speaks about the successor in title. When a first application is filed, or when an application claims priority and the applicant is the same as the one of the priority application, the EPO has no reasons to check whether the applicant in name is the true owner of the invention and hence of the application. The situation is different when an application is filed claiming a priority, and there is a difference in the name of the applicant of the priority application. Then the EPO has the duty to verify who the successor in title is.

One should however not forget that the problem we are faced in the present case stems from the “oddities” of US patent law.

Loss of the patent may only be the result of a document published in the priority interval becomes then prior art under Art 54(2), even if it is the own publication of all the applicants of the priority application.

In the US we have a grace period which is unknown in the rest of the world. Should the publication of an invention before filing not be sanctioned in the rest of world just because the applicant has published his invention in the US?

Translated into the priority system, it is in other words, what the appellants want.

If the right to priority cannot be transferred before the end of the priority period, why should it not be possible that the subsequent application is filed by the holder of the priority right, and the ownership of the subsequent application is then transferred? This would avoid a whole series of problems, not just before the EPO.

It might a priori look unfair that opponents can obtain revocation of a patent for, at a glance, reasons other than of substance, but here it is the applicant of the subsequent application which takes a great risk when the question of ownership of the priority right has not been properly cleared before the subsequent filing.

Put in very simple terms, the monopoly (patent) may in fact be assigned to the wrong person; yesterday someone sent me this pointer which said: “Something discovered today: apparently it is possible to “steal” someone’s patent at the USPTO.

“They have the courage and the sincerity to state out in public that Battistelli robbed their autonomy.”“Someone (a Swedish law firm, of all things!) declared themselves as the registered owners of one of my patents at the USPTO without my knowledge or approval (or the co-author’s) and the USPTO accepted it?!?!? [...] I have sadly had to get myself a lawyer “because IANAL”. Fortunately I happen to know a patent lawyer (friend from Uni).”

So at least it seems like the EPO isn’t the worst patent office in every way/aspect (China is a good contender for it). “Suleman Ali” then commented:

I agree with the philosophy of the EPO’s present position that it must be established that both applicants have given consent for the priority right to be established for a convention filing. However I disagree with the strict conditions that this means assignments etc must be in place by convention filing. This is completely arbitrary, and does not recognise the time frame for business negotiations and transactions. As always the EPO is applying rules in a mathematical way that serves no greater purpose. More leniency and kindness please

Well, “leniency and kindness” in whose favour? As we’ve been showing her for many years, the EPO tends to favour very rich people — not inventors — and then the Boards are compelled to rubber-stamp such policies. See last night's Daily Links about patents as well as [1-3] below (Shanks v Unilever) to understand how imbalanced things have become in that regard.

“Proof of the pudding” then wrote again:

A positive aspect of the arguably harsh consequence of mucking up entitlement to priority is that it has made (more) attorneys in the US sit up and take notice … and to realise that they cannot always assume that what works just fine in the US might not be good for elsewhere.

In other words, it seems to me to be a good thing that a consequence of this high-profile case could well be that US attorneys will start to ensure that they have a better understanding of an international treaty that is of fundamental importance to intellectual property rights … and to which the US is a signatory.

Now if we could only find a way of getting patent examiners in the US to start looking at, and understanding the implications of, those pesky international treaties…

No, patent examiners are pretty powerless; we’ve already explained, perhaps a dozen times, that US patent examiners are forced to follow some guidelines that are derived from a complete distortion (gross omissions) of caselaw. The same is likely true for EPO patent examiners; they can cite the law and name precedents, but that comes at risk of enraging the line managers, who are themselves vassals of high-level management, i.e. patent maximalists. They view patent quality as an obstruction to so-called ‘productivity’; they view good examiners as nuisance who engage in gross professional misconduct/incompetence. They literally insult those who do their job properly.

“They view patent quality as an obstruction to so-called ‘productivity’; they view good examiners as nuisance who engage in gross professional misconduct/incompetence.”MaxDrei (patent attorney) then wrote: “If the EPO is going to continue to impose its own EBA-made law on the rest of the world, even though this EBA-made law is said to be less than fully in line with “the aim” of the Paris Convention, the EBA really ought to try very hard this time, to come up with persuasive reasoning. Otherwise it is going to be criticised.”

Here’s the full comment:

Thanks for that last contribution, which reminds me of the very popular fob-off that, when you come to Europe with your patent applications, “Ignorance of the law is no excuse”.

It is said that you, dear Applicant, should have known that, unlike everywhere else in the world, here in Europe i) there is no grace period ii) under Art 54(3), your own earlier filings, unpublished at the date of your claim, nevertheless destroy the novelty of that claim and iii) you need to dot the i’s and cross the t’s, and memorialize post-filing ownership transfers BEFORE you file PCT.

If the EPO is going to continue to impose its own EBA-made law on the rest of the world, even though this EBA-made law is said to be less than fully in line with “the aim” of the Paris Convention, the EBA really ought to try very hard this time, to come up with persuasive reasoning. Otherwise it is going to be criticised.

There are good reasons for the absence of a grace period and very good reasons for the Art 54(3) self-collision. They persuade me. But as to the TBA question here, having read the Straus Amicus Brief, and now the Annexe to the TBA Communication, I personally am not seeing reasons persuasive enough to justify upholding current practice. Readers, in the enormous EPO file, which is the single doc I should read, that makes the most persuasive case for continuing with present practice? Perhaps that will persuade me.

Earlier this year we published a number of articles critiquing the composition of EBA; but again, this is very much the fault of the political managers of the Office, who also get to choose chief judges. There’s no true independence; not even remotely!

“The EPO is not to blame but the applicant” responded again (to some of the above comments):

Dear Max Drei,

The whole discussion turns about the interpretation given to the word “any” or in French “celui qui”. For some scholars, e.g. Prof. Strauss, it means not all of those having filed the provisional application, have to be named in the subsequent application.

According to Prof. Strauss, if A and B have filed a provisional application, A could decide to file in certain countries, and B in others. I am anything but sure of that is what the drafter of the Paris Convention had in mind. By the way what the drafters of the Paris Convention had in mind is

For other scholars, e.g. Prof. Forteau, the word “any” or in French “celui qui” should be interpreted broadly, encompassing one of several co-applicants of the original application acting individually when filing the subsequent application.

Should we follow the views expressed in the name of the proprietor, we would be bang in the question raised by the Board.

To me, “celui qui” has as plural “ceux qui”. This means clearly that in case of one original applicant it must be the same applicant or its successor in title of the subsequent application. If there is a plurality of co-applicants all those co-applicants have to be those filing the subsequent application. It is a question of mere logic.

I am thus not convinced by Prof. Strauss’ statement or by the one of Prof. Forteau.

After all, the purpose of the Paris Convention was to avoid self-collision, and the applicant of the subsequent application should not be penalised if its application was published before 12 months. Avoiding self-collision can only be between two applications having the same applicant or co-applicants. There again it is question of mere logic.

Dear Suleman Ali,

When the assignments are not ready and in place by the convention filing, why then not have the convention filing carried out by the original applicants and the transfer of ownership afterwards. This would obviate any problems of timing.

Why are we citing all this stuff and quoting it in full? Two reasons: 1) IP Kat has a tendency to nuke comments — especially good and important comments — even after their publication (we’ve covered and archived many examples of that); 2) IP Kat comments are nowadays a lot better and far more informative than posts — a paradox for most blogs. When one considers who employs these bloggers and examines who (micro)manages them, the reasons become clearer.

“If the EPC is so shamelessly being violated and if the EPO continues to demonstrate disregard for the independence of judges (their appointment process and more), how can a system like the UPC ever be tolerated?”So, in summary, there are growing concerns about EBA and about the EPC. There are, accordingly, also concerns about the Unitary Patent (UPC), or the European Union-centric Unified Patent Court Agreement (UPCA). If the EPC is so shamelessly being violated and if the EPO continues to demonstrate disregard for the independence of judges (their appointment process and more), how can a system like the UPC ever be tolerated? Ever?

Incidentally, only two days ago a Team UPC-owned blog (author unnamed, posted under “European Patent Litigation” — their ‘bread and butter’) published “Ingve Stjerna: Examination compatibility UPCA with German and EU law was deficient.” Whoever the author is, he or she writes about UPC opponent Dr. Ingve Stjerna with his latest analysis. Here are some portions:

The compatibility of the Unified Patent Court Agreement (UPCA) and two pieces of draft legislation submitted for its ratification in Germany with the German Constitution was examined only very selectively, whereas the compatibility with EU law was apparently not examined at all. This is the conclusion of the Düsseldorf based patent lawyer Ingve Björn Stjerna, who meticulously investigated the procedure leading to the German ratification of the UPCA.

Stjerna, the lawyer behind the constitutional complaint against the UPCA which led to a stay of ratification proceedings in Germany, published an article on the issue last month. The timing is not coincidential: a decision of the German Federal Constitutional Court (BVerfG) about the case (2 BvR 739/17) is expected in the upcoming months. At the end of his article, Stjerna implicitly says the BVerfG should take into account his findings:

‘The documents provided suggest that the BMJV [the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection] having the overall responsibility for the implementation of the European patent reform in Germany and the ratification of the UPCA, did not comprehensively examine the Agreement for its compatibility with the Grundgesetz nor or [of?] that with Union law, in particular with CJEU Opinion 1/09. The BVerfG may take note of this with interest.’


In the second chapter of his article, using among others information he gathered with three requests (in October 2017, August 2018 and February 2019) based on the Freedom of Information Act, he writes what happened in practice. ‘The answer is sobering. According to the official information provided by the BMJV, individual aspects were examined for compatibility with the Grundgesetz, but relevant constitutional issues remained unexamined, as did compatibility with Union law’. Then he proceeds with all the details sustaining his conclusion. A few exemples are given below.

Basically, as we said a day after he had published his paper, the government did not at all consider the impact on small businesses; it’s hardly surprising considering the fact that the driving force behind UPC was a cabal of law firms and their biggest clients (usually not even European firms!).

“For Europe to remain united (unity, unitary, unified, whatever) we need the perception of functioning accountability mechanisms. We don’t have that at the moment, certainly not in EPOnia.”Going back to where we started, the EU (or EC) ignores all this at its own peril. The most controversial parties, including AfD, were quick to exploit these UPC scandals, leveraging them to bolster their anti-EU agenda. Unless the EU takes control of the situation at the EPO, at the very least by stripping its immunity and launching an investigation, nothing will improve. Things will get yet worse (faster than anything can ever improve).

When I look at EPO abuses I don’t bash the EU. Rather, I am becoming increasingly concerned about the self-harming (in)action of the EU. For Europe to remain united (unity, unitary, unified, whatever) we need the perception of functioning accountability mechanisms. We don’t have that at the moment, certainly not in EPOnia. Sweet-talking and fairy tales aren’t substitutes as more people become disillusioned over time.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. In-house predict ‘university-style model’ after inventor compensation ruling

    Lawyers say that the UK Supreme Court’s judgment in Shanks v Unilever is likely to result in changes to business practice and an uptick in compensation claims

  2. What was the relevant undertaking? Further comments on Unilever v Shanks [2019] UKSC 45

    Section 40(1) UKPA states that, when considering if an employee should be awarded compensation for his invention, the court should have “regard among other things to the size and nature of the employer’s undertaking”. In the UKSC decision, Lord Kitchin reasoned that the Hearing Officer and lower courts had erred in their interpretation of the appropriate “undertaking” of Professor Shanks employer. The “undertaking” to be considered, according to the UKSC, was not that of Unilever as a whole. The relevant undertaking was instead that of the Unilever subsidiary by which Professor Shanks was directly employed (CRL), whilst also taking account of the commercial relationship between CRL and Unilever as a whole.

    In order to establish the correct “employer undertaking” in the case in question, Lord Kitchin observed that in many situations relating to employee compensation, identification of the appropriate undertaking “will be comparatively straightforward. It will be the whole or, if it is divided into economic units, the relevant unit of the employer’s business” (para. 41). However, the case in question was a different and more difficult case.

    Unilever argued that the relevant undertaking was Unilever as a whole. In particular it was argued that it was “unreal to treat CRL as the relevant undertaking because it never generated any material revenues, was not the beneficiary of the royalties in question and is and was simply a service company for the Unilever group” (para. 45). Furthermore, the £24.3m benefit from the Shanks Patents went to the Unilever group as a whole. By contrast, Professor Shanks argued that the relevant undertaking was that of CRL. Particularly, CRL was Professor Shanks’ direct employer and the entire Unilever group could not sensibly be described as CRL’s undertaking (para. 45).

    Lord Kitchin opted for an approach that lay between these two extremes. The analysis, according to Lord Kitchin, should have a more practical and commercial focus. In particular, the question to ask was what would have been the expected benefit of a patent originating from a research facility such as CRL, operating as part of the larger Unilever group, to Unilever as a whole?


    £2m compensation is the largest amount of compensation that has been awarded to an employee-inventor under Section 40. Lord Kitchin agreed with the Hearing Officer that a “fair share” of the benefit derived by Unilever from the patents was 5%. Lord Kitchin disagreed with Professor Shanks’ argument that a fair share would have been between 10-20%, given that, amongst other factors, the patent had been exploited at no risk to Unilever. Lord Kitchin agreed with the Hearing Officer at first instance that 5% was fair given that 1) Professor Shanks was employed to invent and, in making the invention, did what he was employed to do. Furthermore, the benefit of the patents was brought to fruition by Unilever’s negotiation of the licences (something in which Professor Shanks played no part) (para. 91).

  3. Shanks v Unilever – A Fair Share At Last

    The Supreme Court handed down its judgment on 23 October 2019, marking the end of a 13-year struggle between the inventor, Prof Ian Shanks, and Unilever for compensation in relation to an invention relating to disposable glucose monitoring equipment.

    The judgment of the Supreme Court provides valuable guidance on the matters to be taken into account when assessing the benefit of an invention, and the amount of compensation to be awarded to the inventor. However, it may encourage conglomerates who currently employ inventors in a small subsidiary within the larger group of companies to re-structure so that inventors are directly employed by a larger manufacturing company in the group, so that the “employer’s undertaking” is a larger entity and thus a higher threshold is set when assessing whether the invention has provided an “outstanding benefit”.


    The Supreme Court did however decide to apply to the 5% share an uplift to reflect the impact of time on the value of money. The original 5% of £24 million (£1.2 million) was thus uplifted to an award of £2 million to Prof Shanks.


    The persistence of Prof Shanks has provided, in the decision of the Supreme Court, important guidance as to the manner in which a claim for compensation under Section 40 is to be dealt with in future.

IRC Proceedings: Saturday, November 02, 2019

Posted in IRC Logs at 1:35 am by Needs Sunlight



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