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Links 25/11/2019: Linux 5.4, Lots of Openwashing This Past Week

  • GNU/Linux

    • Audiocasts/Shows

    • Kernel Space

      • Habana Labs Begins Preparing For Future ASIC Support In Their Linux Driver

        With the Linux 5.5 kernel now in development the Habana Labs AI startup is preparing for supporting future chips with their open-source Linux kernel driver.

        Habana is the company that has been building special-purpose chips for AI training and inference. Their "Goya" AI inference chip is supported by their initial Linux driver code and offers compelling performance over CPUs/GPUs for inference. Habana Labs mainlined their AI accelerator driver for the Goya chip earlier this year in Linux 5.1.

      • KUnit Slated To Land With The Linux 5.5 Kernel For Expanding Kernel Unit Testing

        As part of the KSelfTest updates sent in early for the Linux 5.5 merge window opening tonight/tomorrow, Google's KUnit is included in this pull request as the basic kernel unit testing framework.

        Shuah Khan summed up KUnit in the pull request as "a lightweight unit testing and mocking framework for the Linux kernel from Brendan Higgins. KUnit is not an end-to-end testing framework. It is currently supported on UML and sub-systems can write unit tests and run them in UML env. KUnit documentation is included in this update."

        With this debut of KUnit there is a test for the proc sysctl, for the 'list' doubly linked list, and for decoding extended timestamps in EXT4. KUnit is still a work-in-progress and expect more tests to land in coming cycles.

      • Linux 5.4
        Not a lot happened this last week, which is just how I like it. And as
        expected, most of the pull requests I got were for the 5.5 merge
        window, which I'll obviously start working through tomorrow.

        What little there is here is mostly some networking updates (mix of network drivers and core networking), and some minor GPU driver updates. Other than that it's a small collection of random other things all over. The appended shortlog is small enough that you might as well just scroll through it.

        Anyway, this obviously opens the merge window for 5.5. It's not ideal timing with Thanksgiving week coming up, but it hopefully shouldn't be too much of an issue. If I fall behind (not because I'm all that big of a fan of the indiscriminate and relentless turkey-killing holiday) it's because we've got all three kids back for the holiday, and I might push some ot the merging to the second week as a result. We'll see what happens.

        Go do the testing thing.

      • Linux 5.4 Release – Main Changes, Arm, MIPS & RISC-V Architectures

        Linux 5.3 added support for AMD Navi GPUs & Zhaoxin x86 CPUs, implemented Intel Speed Select power management technology, enabled 16 million new IPv4 addresses, and added IoT ACRN supervisor optimized for resource-constrained embedded systems, among many other improvements and new features.

      • Linux Kernel 5.4 Released With Kernel Lockdown, exFAT Support & More

        Linus Torvalds has announced Linux kernel 5.4 dubbed “Kleptomaniac Octopus” as the last stable kernel release of 2019. The new Linux kernel accompanies a host of features such as support for the exFAT file system by Microsoft, kernel lockdown feature and support for AMD Radeon Navi 12 and 14 GPUs, AMD Radeon Arcturus GPUs, and AMD Dali APU.

        In the announcement post, Linus Torvalds describes Linux Kernel 5.4 update as “mostly some networking updates (mix of network drivers and core networking), and some minor GPU driver updates. Other than that it’s a small collection of random other things all over.”

      • Linux Kernel 5.4 Officially Released with exFAT Support, Kernel Lockdown Feature
      • Linux 5.4 Kernel Released With exFAT Support, Faster Radeon Graphics, New Hardware
      • The 5.4 kernel has been released

        Significant features in this release include the haltpoll CPU governor, the iocost (formerly io.weight) I/O controller, the EROFS filesystem, an implementation of the exFAT filesystem that may yet be superseded by a better version, the fs-verity file integrity mechanism, support for the BPF compile once, run everywhere mechanism, the dm-clone device mapper target, the virtiofs filesystem, kernel lockdown support (at last), kernel symbol namespaces, and a new random-number generator meant to solve the early-boot entropy problem.

      • Google to Add Mainline Linux Kernel Support to Android

        Before it reaches you, the Linux kernel on your cellphone goes through three major steps.

        First, Google takes the LTS (Long Term Support) version of the Linux kernel and adds all of the Android-specific code. This becomes the “Android Common kernel”.

        Google then sends this code to the company that creates the System on a Chip (SoC) that runs your phone. This is usually Qualcomm.

        Once the SoC maker finishes add code to support the CPU and other chips, the kernel is then passed on to the actual device maker, such as Samsung or Motorola. The device maker then adds code to support the rest of the phone, such as the display and camera.

        Each of these steps takes a while to complete and results in a kernel that won’t work with any other device. It also means that the kernel is very old, usually about two years old. For example, the Google Pixel 4, which shipped last month, has a kernel from November 2017, which will never get updated.

        Google has pledged to create security patches for older devices, which means they’re stuck keeping an eye on a huge hodge-podge of old code.

      • Graphics Stack

        • The Open-Source NVIDIA Driver Will End Out 2019 In Poor Shape Still For Newer GPUs

          For the imminent Linux 5.5 kernel cycle we have talked about exciting AMD Radeon and Intel graphics driver changes on deck from Navi OverDrive overclocking to more Intel Tiger Lake and Jasper Lake bits, AMDGPU HDCP support, and other features queued. But what about the open-source NVIDIA "Nouveau" Linux driver?

          Sadly, it's been several kernel cycles since there has been anything major to report. In fact, as it stands right now, there haven't been any changes queues from Nouveau into DRM-Next. Earlier this week Red Hat's Ben Skeggs did push a few bits of new code to the skeggsb/nouveau repository but that work hasn't appeared in DRM-Next as of writing nor any indication on the mailing list.

        • AMDKFD/ROCm GPU Compute Can Work On POWER Systems Like Raptor's Talos II

          While NVIDIA graphics in IBM POWER systems have been known to make a powerful combination for supercomputer deployments, for those wanting a libre GPU compute experience can also use POWER with AMD Radeon's open-source driver with a pending patch to the kernel driver.

          With various Radeon driver bugs in the open-source stack having been worked out over time that affect the POWER architecture, it turns out the driver stack is good enough on POWER to even enable the AMDKFD (Kernel Fusion Driver) compute support -- which is the kernel component to the Radeon Open Compute (ROCm) stack that runs in user-space.

    • Benchmarks

      • The Combined Impact Of Mitigations On Cascade Lake Following Recent JCC Erratum + TAA

        Following the initial tests earlier this month from the disclosures of the JCC Erratum (Jump Conditional Code) that required updated Intel CPU microcode to address and on the same day the TSX Async Abort (TAA) vulnerability that required kernel mitigations to address, which I have run benchmarks of those CPU performance impacts individually, readers have requested tests looking at the current overall impact to the mitigations to date.

        In this article are benchmarks for Intel Cascade Lake using dual Xeon Platinum 8280 processors. Keep in mind Cascade Lake has hardware mitigations in place for L1TF, Meltdown, and some Spectre protections. The different configurations tested for this article included...

      • Intel Core i9 10980XE Linux Performance Benchmarks

        Intel today is rolling out the Core i9 10980XE as their new Cascade Lake X-Series processor that features 18 cores / 36 threads with a maximum turbo frequency of 4.6GHz and TBM 3.0 frequency of 4.8GHz. Following a last minute change, Intel moved up the embargo lift time of the Core i9 1980XE so here are the results we can share with you right now.

        The Intel Core i9 10980XE Cascade Lake processor features the same core / thread count as the previous Core i9 9980XE and i9 7980XE but now with a 3.0GHz base frequency, 4.6GHz peak turbo frequency, 4.8GHz Turbo Boost Max 3.0 frequency, DDR4-2933 quad channel memory support rather than DDR4-2666, and the L1TF/Meltdown hardware mitigations in place. The cache size remains the same at 24.75MB and the processor having a 165 Watt TDP.

    • Applications

      • VirtualBox 6.1.0 RC1

        VirtualBox is a powerful x86 and AMD64/Intel64 virtualization product for enterprise as well as home use. Targeted at server, desktop and embedded use, it is now the only professional-quality virtualization solution that is also Open Source Software.

      • Audacity 2.3.3 Released With Major Bug Fixes, Removes Obsolete Features

        Audacity 2.3.3 serves as the latest stable release of the famous open source audio editor. But the team behind the tool say that this update offers “no new and almost no changed features” when compared to previous builds.

        However, many long standing bug fixes are included thanks to code ‘restructuring’ work. Among the 75+ bugs fixed are...

      • 18 Years Ago, Linux’s Legendary Package Manager Synaptic was Released

        What is the first thing you do after you install Ubuntu or Debian? For me, and literally for almost everybody I met in the Linux world, the first thing is to install Synaptic. In November 13, Synaptic became 18 years old, and we are here to honor this good piece of software that served us for a long time.

        For those who don’t know, Synaptic is a graphical package manager for the Debian-based Linux distributions. It allows you to install, remove and delete packages. Synaptic is quite unique in that its user interface is very functional and straightforward; You don’t need to learn it or spend time reading any document in order to use it. And on daily basis, despite its source code being unmaintained for around 2 years, its bugs and issues are very limited. It is indeed one of the best software ever made in the Linux world.

      • Glimpse Image Editor (GIMP Fork) 0.1 Available to Install in Ubuntu

        Glimpse, a downstream fork of the GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP in short), released version 0.1 a few days ago. It can be installed in Ubuntu 18.04 and higher via either Snap or Flatpak.

        Due to the problematic word “gimp”, Glimpse forked the well known image editor so there are no potential barriers to using the software in businesses and educational institutions.

        “If English is not your first language, then you may not have realised that the word “gimp” is problematic. In some countries it is considered a slur against disabled people and a playground insult directed at unpopular children. It can also be linked to certain “after dark” activities performed by consenting adults.

      • The trials and tribulations of video decoding on Linux

        I like using Linux. I use it on my desktop – especially now that League of Legends runs incredibly well on Linux thanks to the Lutris and League of Linux reddit community. I’d also like to use Linux on my laptop (an XPS 13 9370), but here I run into a major hurdle that despite a lot of trials and tribulations, I have been unable to overcome: playing video.

        Of course, Linux – in my case, Linux Mint – can play any format under the sun just fine, either locally, on-demand, or streaming, and in my case, it’s YouTube video that matters (720p-1080p). The problem lies not in what desktop Linux can play, but in how it does so. Decoding video on my laptop running Linux is apparently remarkably inefficient, to the point where the processor reaches temperatures of 60-70€°C, and since the fan kicks in at around 60€°C, watching video on Linux means constant fan noise. When playing the same videos on Windows on the exact same laptop, temperatures stay comfortably below 40€°C, without ever even coming close to spinning up a fan.

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Games

      • Improve your typing to fight hordes of monsters in retro arcade game Type Knight

        In Type Knight, you fight skeletons, bats, wraiths and more via the awesome power of your rapid (and hopefully accurate) typing.

        Note: Key provided by the developer.

        Released last month, Type Knight appears to be the first game by this developer and took around 18 months to deliver the final version on Steam after several demos on Itch.

        As the titular "Type Knight", you automatically walk through the graveyard while enemies approach from the right of the screen with words above their heads - type that word and your character delivers an oddly satisfying swipe of his sword to decimate them.

      • The Sunday odds and ends Linux and gaming section

        Blimey, where did Saturday go? It's Sunday already? Yes it is. A time for rest, relaxation and plenty of gaming. Time to go over a few random bits of news!

        Starting off with a little update on a crowdfunding project, the retro adventure game Alwa's Legacy has 10 days left. So far, they're doing okay. Against their SEK 250k (about €£20,195) goal, they're well on their way to get funding.

        The sandbox survival game Vintage Story recently had a massive update with The Game Challenge Update v1.11. It now allows you to properly customize your game, there's some great looking visual updates, much smarter AI mobs, updated world generation to include beaches and loads more. A fascinating sounding game, which looks a lot like Minecraft in style but it has vastly different gameplay experience. You can find out more in the release announcement here, which has links to the major changes.

      • Improve your typing to fight hordes of monsters in retro arade game Type Knight

        In Type Knight, you fight skeletons, bats, wraiths and more via the awesome power of your rapid (and hopefully accurate) typing.

        Note: Key provided by the developer.

        Released last month, Type Knight appears to be the first game by this developer and took around 18 months to deliver the final version on Steam after several demos on Itch.

      • Mesa ACO Linux | The Future is Now!

        Let's do some gameplay with the new ACO mesa compiler. This will blow your mind how good it performs on Linux.

      • How to Install Games on Lutris Manually

        In this video, I walk through how to install games manually on Lutris and go over a variety of ways to accomplish this.

    • Desktop Environments/WMs

      • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

        • KDE Got More Polishing Ahead Of The Holidays While First KDE Frameworks 6 Sprint Started

          It was a busy week in the KDE space.

          This past week KDE saw a lot of polishing work and other refinements take place across its massive package set:

          - Fixing of Picture of the Day Wallpaper from the KDE lock screen.

          - KFind or other external search providers can be easily launched from the Tools menu in Dolphin.

        • KF6 Kickoff Sprint Wrap-Up

          So, I spent the week-end in Berlin where we held the KDE Frameworks 6 Kickoff Sprint to start properly planning the work needed to prepare our transition from Qt5 to Qt6.

          It officially started on Friday and ended on Sunday (today, as I’m typing this). To be there almost on time, I had to take an awfully early flight from Toulouse… needless to say Friday was particularly tough for me.

          After settling in, hugging each other and putting the “Virtual David Faure”â„¢ setup in place, we could start the work.

        • Sketchnotes at Capitole du Libre 2019

          English content after the next paragraph.

          Ce week-end, j’ai assisté au Capitole du Libre à Toulouse. Pour une fois, je n’ai pas suivi beaucoup de présentations afin de discuter dans les couloirs. Toutefois, j’ai fait quelques sketchnotes des présentations auxquelles j’ai assisté.

          And now for English readers. ;-)

          During this week-end, I attended the Capitole du Libre in Toulouse. I didn’t attend many talk for once since I wanted to benefit a lot from the “hallway track”. Still, I did a few sketchnotes of the talks I attended.

          For once it’s all in french though, since it was the language of the conference. ;-)

      • GNOME Desktop/GTK

        • GNOME 3.35.2 released

          GNOME 3.35.2 is now available. This is the second unstable release

          leading to the 3.36 stable series, and it's a pretty quiet one since our most prominent modules were not updated. A couple modules were temporarily back (gnome-boxes, vala, and totem-pl-parser) due to the various incompatibilities, but this is typical for our unstable releases and nothing that looks difficult to resolve.

          This is also our last development release of the year, as the next unstable release, 3.35.3, will be delivered during the week of January 6. Our schedule for 3.36 includes one fewer unstable release than usual, which means more time between releases. Let us know on desktop-devel-list@ whether or not you feel the extra time between releases is working well for you.

        • GNOME 3.35.2 Released As Another Step Towards The GNOME 3.36 Desktop
    • Distributions

      • Reviews

        • SolydXK 10

          SolydXK is a Debian-based desktop distribution. Originally, SolydXK grew out of Linux Mint Debian Edition, providing desktop editions that Mint did not support. However, SolydXK soon grew into its own identity and became independent from Mint, though it does still use the same system installer.

          SolydXK is available in two editions: Xfce and KDE Plasma. Since we reviewed the Xfce edition of SolydXK 9 earlier this year, I decided to try out the KDE branch of version 10.

          SolydXK 10 is based on Debian 10 "Buster" and provides builds for 64-bit (x86_64) machines. In the past there were builds provided for Raspberry Pi computers, but these have been dropped with version 10. The Xfce edition of SolydXK is a 1.6GB download and the KDE edition I decided to try is a 2.2GB download.

          Booting from the distribution's live media brings up the KDE Plasma desktop with a soft, blue theme. There is a panel at the bottom of the screen which holds the application menu, task switcher, and system tray. A single icon for launching the system installer sits in the upper-left corner of the desktop.

      • Screenshots/Screencasts

      • Fedora Family

        • Welcoming our new Fedora Community Action and Impact Coordinator

          Good news, everybody! I’m pleased to announce that we have completed our search for a new Fedora Community Action and Impact Coordinator, and she’ll be joining the Open Source Program Office (OSPO) team to work with Fedora as of today. Please give a warm welcome to Marie Nordin.

          If you’ve been involved in Fedora, you may have already been working with Marie. She’s a member of the Fedora Design and Badges teams. Her latest contribution to the Design Team is the wallpaper for F31, a collaboration with Máirín Duffy. Marie has made considerable contributions to the Badges project. She has designed over 150 badge designs, created documentation and a style guide, and mentored new design contributors for years. Most recently she has been spear-heading a bunch of work related to bringing badges up to date on both the development and UI/UX of the web app.

      • Debian Family

        • Cross Distribution Developer Camp 2019 Fall

          I had attend to Cross Distribution Developer Camp 2019 Fall at Manazuru-machi, Kanagawa at 16th Nov. 2019. There was 8 developers from openSUSE, Ubuntu, LibreOffice and Debian. We had talked about some problem between such distributions, upstream software, especially Japanese (or CJK) specific things.

        • Videomass

          There is a new tool available for Sparkers: Videomass

          What is Videomass?

          Videomass provides a graphical interface for audio and video conversions through FFmpeg.

      • Canonical/Ubuntu Family

        • Canonical Aims for a Bigger Bite of the Telco Pie, with New Charmed OSM Distribution

          Canonical has rolled out a new upstream software distribution dubbed Charmed OSM – a set of open source tools pitched squarely at telcos aiming to shift from legacy networking services to cloud-native network functions.

          OSM (“open source MANO”) is – with our apologies for the alphabet soup – an implementation of standards organisation ETSI‘s network functions virtualisation (NFV) management and orchestration (MANO) stack.

          Charmed OSM is Canonical’s distribution of the open source software stack OSM, which is increasingly becoming an industry standard. The company will also be offering a managed service, to help support deployment.

        • Ubuntu Linux strangely promotes Brony culture on Twitter

          I am not one to judge people. However, the whole "Brony" thing does bewilder me. If you aren't familiar, "Bronies," as they are called, are adult males that enjoy watching the TV show My Little Pony -- a cartoon designed for children. They even play with pony action figures and attend conventions where they dress up like ponies. Sadly, some of these Brony people even sexualize the cartoon ponies. It's a really disturbing community.

          And so, today, I was a bit dismayed by a Tweet from the official Ubuntu Linux Twitter account. You see, on that social network, the operating system seems to be promoting Brony culture by suggesting users install a cartoon pony-related package called "ponysay."

        • Does Stadia Work on Ubuntu? Well Yeah, Kinda…

          Good news for fans of Google’s game streaming service Stadia: it works on Ubuntu!

          That’s according to Redditors lucky enough to be able to try the recently-launched service on their Ubuntu machines (note: it’s not available in every country yet).

          Admittedly this “news” isn’t unexpected.

          Stadia is a cloud-based gaming service powered by Linux, and is advertised to work on Chromebooks (which are Linux-based machines) as well as via the Google Chromecast Ultra.

          So, in a shock to that one person who was asleep most of the summer, I hear that Stadia DOES work in the Google Chrome web browser on Ubuntu.

          Just, er, not very well, it seems…

        • UBports' Ubuntu Touch Porting Now Easier To Newer Devices

          Libhybris is the software project that makes it easier for conventional Linux distributions relying upon Glibc or Musl to access drivers/software built for Android (Bionic C library) software. Ubuntu Touch had been using libhybris for years going back to Canonical's original Ubuntu Touch efforts, but was focused on 32-bit ARM until now and thus not working with 64-bit Android drivers. Landing of the 64-bit ARM version of libhybris should help in being able to run newer 64-bit bits on modern Android devices.

        • Ubuntu Touch Q&A 63

          This week were present Marius, Florian and special guest Jörg Wurzer from Volla Phone.

          At the beginning Marius explained that the ARM64 version of libhybris has now been merged into Edge; this will make porting to newer devices easier.

          It also helps with the Raspberry Pi build. That matters a lot because it will help create a true development platform for UT, for the first time!.

    • Devices/Embedded

    • Free, Libre, and Open Source Software

  • Leftovers

    • US group says 803 unbelted rear-seat passengers died in 2018

      More than 800 rear-seat passengers who weren’t wearing seat belts were killed last year in U.S. traffic crashes, and a highway safety group says states aren’t making enough progress in getting people to buckle up.

      The Governors Highway Safety Association says in a report released Monday that more than 400 of the 803 people who died would have survived if they were belted.

    • Security (Confidentiality/Integrity/Availability)

      • extCloud Linux Servers Targetted by NextCry Ransomware
      • NextCry Ransomware Targets NextCloud Linux Servers and Remains Undetected Features

        Ransomware hunter and creator of ID Ransomware Michael Gillespie notes that the NextCry ransomware, which is a Python script compiled in a Linux ELF binary using pyInstaller, oddly uses Base64 to encode file names as well as the content of files which have already been encrypted. Gillespie has also confirmed that NextCry encrypts data using the AES algorithm with a 256-bit key.

      • NextCloud Linux Servers Targetted by NextCry Ransomware

        Ransomware hunter and creator of ID Ransomware Michael Gillespie notes that the NextCry ransomware, which is a Python script compiled in a Linux ELF binary utilizing pyInstaller, oddly makes use of Base64 to encode file names in addition to the content material of information which have already been encrypted. Gillespie has additionally confirmed that NextCry encrypts information utilizing the AES algorithm with a 256-bit key.

    • Environment

      • The Open Climate Collabathon: A Global Sprint Kicks Off

        On November 15, the Yale OpenLab launched a first-of-its kind hackathon — termed a collabathon — that’s connecting policy experts, technologists, designers, and others around the globe for a two-week sprint that applies an ethos of “radical collaboration” to the fight against climate change. With over 300 registered participants, the project aims to create an open source platform that will track accountability to carbon budget pledges using integrated insights from blockchain, IoT tools, AI, and big data. The goal is to empower a wide variety of actors — from countries and cities to small businesses — to easily and transparently record their climate actions and measure progress towards the targets set out by the 2015 Paris Agreement.

        Over the course of a weekend, participants in New Haven, Singapore, Berlin, Paris, and at least five other locations kicked off a two-week sprint that will culminate in several presentations and press events at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in early December. Collaborating across timezones, participants spent the weekend in a frenzy of activity: talking to collaborators in person and over Slack or Discord, sketching ideas on whiteboards, huddling in front of laptops to work on code or to research technical intricacies.

    • Finance

      • Why the sluggish response to the homeless problem?

        Homelessness is an emergency in California, but what state and local officials are doing about it amounts to malfeasance bordering on municipal manslaughter.

        An emergency is an urgent situation requiring immediate action. If people were sleeping on the sidewalks after a natural disaster, the governor would probably call out the National Guard.

        If government officials treated homelessness like the emergency it is, they would construct temporary emergency shelters in appropriate locations. They would bring in case workers to evaluate individuals and assist them through a process that gets them off the street immediately. They would make efforts to reunite people with family members where possible. They would prioritize funding for necessary mental health facilities, such as psychiatric hospitals and residential facilities for the treatment of substance abuse. They would build barracks-style and dormitory-style housing, quickly, and they would empower the police to enforce a ban on tent encampments.

    • Censorship/Free Speech

      • Amsterdam district court orders Google to take offline fake reviews

        Last week, the Amsterdam district court issued an interesting decision in which it ordered Google to remove from Google Maps' review section negative reviews after concluding that they were fake [decision here, in Dutch]. The decision is likely to set an important precedent for future cases involving fake reviews, in part because it was rendered by judge Floris Bakels, a former Supreme Court judge who stepped down two years ago to spend the final years before his retirement in a fact-finding court.

        The issue has come up repeatedly before German courts and the German Bundesgerichtshof has assessed it within the safe harbour framework of the E-commerce directive [e.g. here, at 31]. But to this Kat's knowledge, this is the first such decision in the Netherlands.

    • Freedom of Information / Freedom of the Press

      • Julian Assange 'could die in prison without urgent medical care', doctors warn

        WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange could die in prison without urgent medical care, according to an open letter signed by more than 60 doctors.

        The medics, from the UK, Australia, Europe and Sri Lanka express “serious concerns” about 48-year-old Assange's fitness to stand trial in the letter addressed to Priti Patel, the home secretary.

        He is being held in Belmarsh prison, in south-east London, ahead of a hearing in February to fight extradition to the US, where he faces 18 charges, including conspiring to hack into a Pentagon computer.

        Assange is accused of working with former US army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to leak hundreds of thousands of classified documents.

        The doctors are calling for Assange to be transferred to a university teaching hospital, where he can be assessed and treated by an expert medical team.

    • Monopolies

      • Patents

        • FTC to Ninth Circuit: Qualcomm "abandoned" national security argument by failing to introduce evidence

          This is a follow-up to yesterday's post on the Federal Trade Commission's answering brief to Qualcomm's opening brief on appeal. Before talking about another aspect--national security--I'd like to share some further thoughts about the FTC's right-for-the-wrong reasons strategy.

          I believe a private party would have been fairly likely to defend Judge Lucy H. Koh's ruling on either ground: her Aspen Skiing approach and the FTC's Third Circuit Broadcom logic. That's because private parties--and especially their counsel--try to leave no stone unturned. It would have been possible for the FTC to argue that the Aspen Skiing standard is too high, but that it's met regardless if one makes a certain effort to shoehorn this case into that pattern (by arguing that Qualcomm might not have known what it was doing when it temporarily granted exhaustive licenses to chipset makers, but it didn't do so involuntarily). But it appears that the FTC's litigation team felt it was prudent to focus completely on a Third Circuit precedent that the Ninth Circuit doesn't have to, but may very well adopt. The fact that Qualcomm won a (partial) stay of the injunction likely played a role here. At the stay stage, the FTC didn't attempt to defend the Aspen Skiing reasoning (as Qualcomm noted in its reply brief), but now it's clear that the FTC is rather confident that the summary judgment on contract interpretation regarding licenses to rival chipset makers will stand (that's a precondition now for the chipset licensing-related antitrust theory), and is more optimistic that the Ninth Circuit will agree with the Third Circuit.


          When politics is the name of the game Qualcomm is trying to play, who cares about whether an argument was presented to the district court in time? Who cares about evidence, or abandonment as a result of not introducing evidence? It's all just about influencing the judges. The FTC makes a compelling argument that there's no substance to Qualcomm's national security concern, and that there's a strong public interest in competition enforcement. As the FTC recalls, competition also works wonders for product quality, so having more than one U.S. baseband chipset maker is ultimately also the best-case outcome for national security. I hope the Ninth Circuit will see through the "national security" smokescreen, and not be swayed by it when adjudicating the antitrust issues before it.

        • IBM sells 500 patents; Big four unite against open source NPE threat; Don't bet on UPC breakthrough; Apple talks FRAND strategy; Time to rethink EPO oppositions; plus much more

          IBM’s big patent sell off continues with divestment of 500 assets, but its latest deal is not with an operating company. Read more here

        • Software Patents

          • OIN, IBM, Microsoft and the Linux Foundation team up against open-source patent trolls

            The Open Invention Network (OIN) is strengthening its fight against patent trolls. The organization has announced it is partnering up with IBM, Microsoft and the Linux Foundation to protect open-source software from Patent Assertion Entities (PAEs), or patent trolls.

            The OIN was created to provide patent non-aggression cross-license in the “Linux System.”

          • Open Invention Network Teams with IBM, Linux Foundation and Microsoft to Further Protect Open Source from Patent Trolls [Ed: OIN even issued a paid (by OIN members like Microsoft and IBM) press release to portray Microsoft as "fighting trolls" when in fact it's arming them, as does IBM]

            Open Invention Network (OIN), the largest patent non-aggression community in history, announced today it is partnering with IBM, the Linux Foundation and Microsoft to further protect open source software (OSS) from Patent Assertion Entities (PAEs) leveraging low quality patents, also called patent trolls. The group will support Unified Patents’ Open Source Zone with a substantial annual subscription. This expands OIN’s and its partners’ patent non-aggression activities by deterring PAEs from targeting Linux and adjacent OSS technologies relied on by developers, distributors and users.

          • Big tech firms join the Open Invention Network to fight against patent trolls

            IBM Corp., Microsoft Corp. and the Linux Foundation are teaming up with the Open Invention Network to help protect open-source software projects from so-called patent assertion entities, more colloquially called “patent trolls.”

            The OIN is a “patent non-aggression community” that cross-licenses patents to its members on a royalty-free basis. It also has its own patents, which are licensed royalty-free to any organization, so long as they agree not to assert their own patents against its members.

            “Open-source development continues to expand into new products and markets, delivering unrivaled innovation,” OIN Chief Executive Officer Keith Bergelt said today. “Its use continues to spread, and patent trolls increasingly look to leverage questionable patents against open source.”

      • Trademarks

        • GC excludes likelihood of confusion between marks representing stylized human figure and relating to same goods due to low distinctiveness of shared concept

          In an intriguing judgment delivered earlier this month (T-149/19), contrary to the earlier decision of the EUIPO Second Board of Appeal, the General Court (GC) excluded any likelihood of confusion between the two signs represented below, despite sharing the same public and considering the latter’s average level of attention, and the average degree of conceptual similarity between the signs.


          In 2017, the Opposition Division rejected the opposition, assuming that the goods at issue would be identical (there was also a question regarding the senior trade mark’s use).

          The decision was upheld by the Second Board of Appeal (the Board), which emphasized, among other things, the low distinctiveness of the earlier trade mark and the average degree of visual and conceptual similarity of the signs at issue. In particular, a likelihood of confusion within the meaning of Article 8(1)(b) EUTMR could be established if the goods in question were regarded as identical. The case was therefore sent back to the Opposition Division for a decision on the genuine use of the earlier mark and the actual comparison of the relevant goods.

      • Copyrights

        • Public statement by Rachana Institute of Typography on the copyright/credit issue of SMC and RIT fonts

          We — KH Hussain, CV Radhakrishnan, PK Ashok Kumar and KV Rajeesh — are the copyright holders of TN Joy font. Many of us have worked on free/libre/open source software for years in our spare time and contributed code, design, fonts, documentation, localization and financial support to various free software projects. Our contributions can be found easily on the Web and elsewhere.


          During the first week of Nov-2019 for the summit organized by Kerala Media Academy, all the copyright holders of TN Joy font met and discussed the issue raised by Santhosh.

          As free software developers and users, it was not our intention to violate copyright or appropriate credit of another free software developer’s work at all. Not only in intention, but we strived to achieve that in all our projects by acts. So, this accusation came as a surprise to us and we decided to take a deeper look at how this issue originated and what the root cause is, to address it properly.

        • Oracle vs Google will be decided once and for all in the Supreme Court

          ORACLE AND GOOGLE will decide the future of open-source software in the Supreme Court.

          The long-running feud between the two tech giants has already travelled through every part of the court system in the US with appeals being won and lost on an unerring basis. Now the final act will play out in the highest court of the land.

          Oracle has argued repeatedly that although its Java code was open-source, the APIs were proprietary and therefore subject to copyright and licensing fees.

          Google claims that just isn't cricket and that if the code is free-to-use then charging from the APIs has repercussions not just for Android which heavily depended on them in its early days, but for the entire open-source community.

          Google has since written its own code and no longer requires the use of the contested APIs, but Oracle argues that it should still receive royalties worth billions, to cover every single Android device ever released.

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