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03.29.17

Recognising the Death of Software Patents, Microsoft’s Largest Ally in India Belatedly Joins the Linux-Centric Open Invention Network

Posted in Asia, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, OIN, Patents at 5:17 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

But Microsoft carries on with its usual tricks, this time calling them “Azure IP Advantage”… (Microsoft-armed trolls attacking Azure’s rivals and non-customers)

Microsoft and trolls

Summary: With the demise of software patents come some interesting new developments, including the decision at Infosys — historically very close to Microsoft and a proponent of software patents — to join the Open Invention Network (OIN)

OVER the past month or so we’ve published 10 articles about Microsoft siccing patent trolls on GNU/Linux [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10]. It’s already happening on the face of it (we have since our last article learned that the Toyota patent deal covers “OS” and “file systems”, i.e. Linux), and LG adopts similar tactics that prevent responsibility/reaction by ‘proxifying’ to trolls (see this old cartoon about it — one that we’ve just ‘massaged’ or flattened to fit our layout above). This is the kind of thing OIN was supposed to protect against, but we have hardly seen any evidence of effective defense (OIN told one such tale about half a decade ago, but nothing since).

“OIN cannot guard against this.”The idea that OIN will somehow ‘snatch’ patents before they reach trolls (even where Microsoft arranges for others’ passage, e.g. from Nokia to MOSAID/Conversant) assumes that Microsoft is naïve. See what happened with CPTN. OIN cannot guard against this. OIN is not the solution to the core issue, which is patents on software. OIN stakeholders, in particular the large ones, don’t want patents on software to stop. They want GNU/Linux and they want patents on software too; they want the impossible!

Over in India, thanks to vigilant populace and local businesses, software patents have been kept illegal all these years. Infosys, a Microsoft proxy which had a change of heart on software patents (because they’re impossible to attain/enforce), joins the Open Invention Network this week [1, 2, 3, 4]. It’s rather surprising, but given the nationality of Infosys (Indian), this is not entirely shocking. Their CEO has actually lashed out at software patents — a move which we very much welcome.

“OIN is not the solution to the core issue, which is patents on software.”Over in the United States, there is still some uncertainty over the death of software patents. Companies generally know that courts are hostile towards software patents (the higher the court, the more hostile) and fewer of them — albeit not all — dare sue. It’s the initiation of a long and expensive process which typically yields nothing after Alice (only court and lawyers’ fees).

IAM, an enemy of India [1, 2, 3] and a proponent of software patents (also the mouthpiece of patent trolls, as we last showed yesterday), worries about an impending SCOTUS ruling which would most likely further inhibit patent trolls and software patents in the US. IAM wrote the following yesterday:

As anyone with even a cursory interest in patents could tell you, this means that as things stand a large proportion of patent suits are concentrated in the Eastern District of Texas, which because of its handling of issues such as discovery and early case motions, is perceived to be particularly plaintiff friendly.

Because it is. And it’s even advertising itself as such! So much for justice! It’s like a disciplinary committee under Battistelli, which evidently continues to be a problem [PDF].

“Over in the United States, there is still some uncertainty over the death of software patents.”According to this new article (sheltered behind a paywall, as usual), the USPTO is probably realising that software patents are a thing of the past. To quote the summary:

Recent Federal Circuit decisions, and updated Guidance issued by the USPTO have provided practitioners with a new roadmap to navigate the minefield left in the wake of the “Alice” case.

Alice, as we repeatedly noted last year, is here to stay. There are no signs that Justices will revisit the matter (patentability of software) any time soon. Instead, again behind paywall, Justices now look into other matters. MIP give paying subscribers a glimpse at what happens in Impression v Lexmark (oral arguments). It’s a SCOTUS patent case which along with TC Heartland will quite likely further restrict patent scope in the US (a much-needed and overdue reform).

LG Not Only Suing Rivals Using Patents But is Also Passing Patents for Trolls Like Sentegra to Sue

Posted in Asia, GNU/Linux, LG, Patents at 4:23 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

LG is copying Microsoft (or Microsoft’s method of attacking its competition)

LG

Summary: LG gives yet more reasons for a boycott, having just leveraged not just patents but also patent trolls in a battle against a competitor

TEN years ago we called for a boycott of LG, after it had agreed to pay Microsoft for Linux (over alleged patents). LG did not even put up a fight and later it adopted Android.

LG is now turning hostile even against Android (and by extension Linux), taking advantage of the US-centric ITC. It has has begun legal action. Korean companies going aggressive with patents is rather unusual (cultural reasons), but apparently not anymore. The trolls’ voice, IAM, reveals that LG used to do this via trolls. To quote the relevant parts (below):

LG Electronics appears to have launched its first-ever patent enforcement actions in the United States with a Delaware district lawsuit and International Trade Commission (ITC) complaint targeting US phone maker Blu Products.

LG’s complaint and exhibits as filed with the Delaware district court are currently under seal, while any documentation outlining the ITC filing is apparently yet to be published. As such, details are thin on the ground at the moment, though some particulars can be determined from an LG press release announcing the actions.

[...]

Indeed, these latest LG filings are not even the first time that Blu has been sued using LG patents. In January, Blu was named in litigation filed in the District of Colorado by an NPE named Sentegra LLC. One of two patents asserted by Sentegra against Blu had originally been owned by LG, and had been assigned to the NPE by the South Korean company in November 2015.

LG is doing this not in Texas but in Delaware, with the troll in Colorado. We’re going to keep an eye on this because it represent a new kind of threat and this time it comes from Korea, for a change.

March 29th: The Day the Unitary Patent (UPC) Died

Posted in Europe, Patents at 4:15 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Also see (from yesterday): Techrights Was Right About the Unitary Patent (UPC)

Summary: Stating the obvious and proving us right amid Article 50 débâcle

Kongstad and Battistelli Have Staged a Coup at the European Patent Organisation (EPO)

Posted in Europe, Patents at 3:42 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Forever tyranny, using Mafia tactics, against every rule in the book (including Battistelli's own rules)

Battistelli and Kongstad

Summary: Discussion about Battistelli and his chinchilla denying national representatives their rights and power to oust Battistelli, who is rapidly destroying not just the Office but also the whole Organisation, Europe’s reputation, and the image of France

YESTERDAY we wrote that “Benoît Battistelli ‘Pulls an Erdoğan’ Faster Than Erdoğan,” taking note of forever tyranny which becomes ever more severe over time. The crisis accelerates. The EPO has already sunk among job applicants (it's not at all or barely even listed anymore) and staff is fleeing, based on the actual numbers leaked to us (just like those striving to escape Turkey).

We honestly begin to wonder, in light of a recent proposal from Battistelli’s protectors, what if Battistelli has no intention of stepping down when his term ends, even in defiance of the EPC? Who’s there to enforce the EPC after the Battistelli coup? Tyrants can go on for decades and Battistelli wasn’t even eligible for his current term based on his age. A lot of people don’t know this! The same is true for Minnoye. Will Battistelli say that UPC woes and delays justify extension of his term? Will he rewrite the rules as he so habitually does? Or get others to do it for him? Will he stage a crisis (like a silly bicycle tale)? Nothing is impossible at the EPO. We repeat: Nothing is impossible at the EPO. Not anymore!

“I think it is wishful thinking to believe that Battistelli will be replaced in 2018,” says this new comment. Here it is in its entirety:

Another earlier comment which is interesting in the present context:

http://ipkitten.blogspot.com/2016/11/firings-will-continue-until-morale.html?showComment=1479022236581#c4108431330349887010

“the Council cannot stop Battistelli dismantling the European Patent Office if that is his plan. He can continue as long as he gets votes from 10 countries. Even for a second or third term, as far as I can tell.
All he needs are the votes from 10 countries.”

That poster refers to the majority of 3/4 necessary to elect a new president. But in the last session, Kongstadt had this strange proposal that a same majority of 3/4 was necessary to start the selection process. Isn’t that a veiled way of saying “start the selection process if you want, without a 3/4 majority Battistelli stays in post”?

What happens in June 2018 if Battistelli, who controls at least a blocking minority of 10 countries, decides that he just stays in post? Without another President, he stays in post. And he has an history of disregarding the provisions of the EPC, hasn’t he?

I think it is wishful thinking to believe that Battistelli will be replaced in 2018. He is there to stay until he has finished his task.

Battistelli continues to lie, cheat, steal and cause people to commit suicide (which is not the same thing as murder, but liability/culpability may exist though cannot be proven because Battistelli prevents authorities from actually investigating).

Consider this recent letter to Battistelli, which was about coverup attempts:

Sehr geehrter Herr Präsident,

in den Balanced Score Cards der letzten Zeit war auch immer wieder der Punkt „S12: Staff Satisfaction“ eine Größe, welche das Amt im Auge behalten wollte, weil die Zufriedenheit der Belegschaft eine für die Amtsleitung wichtige Größe dargestellt hat (siehe hier).

Die aktuelle BSC scheint diese Größe nicht mehr zu beinhalten (siehe hier). Die Personalvertretung fragt Sie daher, warum die Zufriedenheit der Belegschaft nicht mehr dargestellt wird. Liegt es daran, dass sie nicht mehr messbar ist? Oder möchten Sie das Amt mit den gemessenen Ergebnissen nicht weiter blamieren?

Mit freundlichen Grüßen,

Der Zentrale Personalsusschuss

Wir bestätigen, dass das obige Schreiben ordnungsgemäß vom Zentralen Personalausschuss beschlossen wurde.

An automated translation of it (Google Translate, unedited) goes like this:

Dear Mr President,

In the Balanced Scorecards of the last time was also always the Point “S12: Staff Satisfaction” a size which the Office in mind Because the satisfaction of the workforce was one for the (See here).

The current BSC does not seem to contain this size anymore (see here). The staff representation therefore asks you why the satisfaction of the Workforce is no longer represented. Is it because they do not Is measurable? Or would you like the office with the measured Results do not continue to embarrass?

Best regards,

The Central Staff Committee

We confirm that the above letter is correct from the Central Committee on Personnel.

Is it not obvious already why EPO staff is up in arms? They’ve been subjected to a coup by a tyrant and the media in Europe (certainly in Germany) doesn’t seem interested in covering that. Maybe it is being paid not to cover it. Or maybe simply threatened, just like in Turkey. If it wasn’t for the sanctions, IP Kat wouldn’t have gone so silent since last summer.

Europe as the World’s Laughing Stock When it Comes to Patent Quality/Scope and the Coming Appeals

Posted in America, Europe, Patents at 3:07 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The EPO has lowered the quality bar to the point of the unethical, laughable and ludicrous

Intellectual Property and Genomics
Reference: genome.gov (US)

Summary: Criticism and embarrassing coverage for the EPO, which has just decided to grant patents even on genome, in defiance of a lot of things

THE EPO has become an embarrassment to a lot more than itself. Run by a Frenchman with an Italian name connected to the 'Corsican Mafia', the Office already commits atrocious acts with the consent of the Organisation and complicity of apathetic politicians. And now Europe — not the US — bears the embarrassment of patents on life, probably the most widely denounced type of patents. Just watch yesterday’s and this morning’s news [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10]. What the EPO has just done is being attributed to “Europe”. People might soon start saying stuff like, “that’s a terrible idea. It’ll never happen, except maybe in Europe” (where patent scope became patently farcical).

“And now Europe — not the US — bears the embarrassment of patents on life, probably the most widely denounced type of patents.”Yet more articles about decline in EPO patent quality (including patents on life) were published earlier this week [1, 2] and these should be of great concern to anyone who works for the EPO, which for decades derived its pride (and high fees) from the perception of high patent quality. We still hope that perhaps someone from the inside (a whistleblower) can tell us more about the process and why this patent was granted. There are going to be many protests against this and some media alleges that appeals are on the way (attracting yet more negative publicity). To quote:

University of California’s CRISPR patent win in Europe likely to be challenged

If you enjoyed the US edition of the CRISPR patent dispute, get ready for the European one: With the announcement last week that the European Patent Office intends to grant a patent to the University of California, Berkeley, and its partners covering a broad range of uses of the revolutionary genome-editing technology, expect a similar plot to unfold on that side of the Atlantic.

In particular, “now we go through opposition proceedings in Europe, where 3d parties can challenge the patent,” patent expert Jacob Sherkow of New York Law School tweeted. “And that could take a while.”

The longer it drags on for, the more damage it will do to the perception of patent quality at the EPO — something which even staff representatives openly speak about nowadays.

“This would be the overall price of lending a hand to a system that permits patents on every single thing, including life itself.”We’ve historically complained mostly (if not only) about software patents in Europe, occasionally also alluding to patents on life. How about both in the same? Yesterday we caught this news article an “agreement [which] follows the transfer of 10 drug design software patents from RCDD” (involves the UK and China).

If we’re unable to keep patent scope under control, the public will lash out against patents in general. A close friend of mine, who has many EPs and US patents, already tells me that he’s against all patents (I don’t share this sentiment) and everywhere I look on the Web these days I see people who think that all patent systems should be abolished (someone last told me this yesterday). This would be the overall price of lending a hand to a system that permits patents on every single thing, including life itself.

Links 29/3/2017: End of Linux Action Show, Top NSA Partner Pays Linux Foundation

Posted in News Roundup at 2:19 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Plesk teams with Kolab for open source groupware

    Plesk, one of the major providers of website management solutions, has chosen Kolab Systems’ groupware solution for its millions of users.

    “You can now deploy Kolab in your Plesk installation with the Premium Email powered by Kolab extension. this extension is a step forward in the field of turn key groupware and online collaboration software. This package is easy and convenient to deploy — it can literally be installed in a few clicks, and it provides full Kolab functionality without the inconveniences and potential pitfalls of having to install Kolab from the ground up,” said Kolab Systems in a press release.

    This deal shows us why smart companies put their eggs in the open source basket instead of relying on proprietary solutions.

  • Survey seeks to discover the motivations behind open source contributions

    Peer production is one of three fundamental ways to organize human economic activity, along with markets and firms. Yet, although it underlies billions of dollars in open source software production, it is the least understood. Participants in open source are not organized in firms, where they would work under the supervision of managers and earn a salary, nor are they individuals in a market, responding to price signals.

    The economics of peer production is an interesting area of study that raises many important questions regarding the incentives behind voluntary participation, the efficiency of production, the tools and models that can quantify and explain how the process works, and so forth.

    My doctoral research at Harvard University considered incentives issues that arise in a software economy. In particular, my work used principles from market design and mechanism design to address problems, such as how to incentivize high-quality submissions to address bugs or features, and how to elicit truthful prediction of task completion time.

  • The Apache® Software Foundation Announces 18 Years of Open Source Leadership

    The Apache Software Foundation (ASF), the all-volunteer developers, stewards, and incubators of more than 350 Open Source projects and initiatives, announced today its 18th Anniversary and accomplishments, and rallied support to ensure future innovation.

  • Open source software is for everyone – so where are the women?

    We all know that there is a diversity problem in tech. The depressing stats from numerous reports and studies all point to stereotypes and bias hitting young girls’ perceptions of STEM negatively, with this sitting alongside poor retention figures and a lack of women at the board level.

    However, one particular branch of tech may be struggling in more when it comes to diversity and inclusion – the one branch, in fact, which has inclusiveness at the very core of its ethos.

  • Extend open source collaboration techniques to skills development

    The skills shortage in South Africa could possibly be addressed by organisations extending their willingness to collaborate as part of the open source community to collaborating on skills development and training.

    That’s the view of Muggie van Staden, MD of open source software provider Obsidian Systems, who said that rapid skills development was particularly important in non-traditional IT areas such as big data – and open source big data in particular.

  • German Federal Police uses Pentaho for daily statistics

    The German Federal Police (Bundespolizei) is using the Pentaho Business Intelligence (BI) suite to perform business analytics for the deployment of police officers. The organisation aggregates information from various systems — more than twenty fields of operations in e.g. border entry, asylum seekers, crimes and detectives — into its data warehouse, and works this data into statistics. The resulting information is used, for example, for shift service management, specifically at the national airports, and to fulfil the department’s reporting obligations to the Federal Ministry of the Interior.

  • Google presents its open-source goodies to the world
  • Google launches new site to showcase its open source projects and processes

    Google is launching a new site today that brings all of the company’s open source projects under a single umbrella.

    The code of these projects will still live on GitHub and Google’s self-hosted git service, of course, with the new site functioning as a central directory for them. While this new project is obviously meant to showcase Google’s projects, the company says it also wants to use it to provide “a look under the hood” of how it “does” open source.

  • Google launches website to give its open source projects a new home
  • Google publishes its documentation for open-sourcing technology
  • Google unveils new site to highlight open source projects and processes
  • Google launches new open source website
  • A New Home for Google Open Source

    Free and open source software has been part of our technical and organizational foundation since Google’s early beginnings. From servers running the Linux kernel to an internal culture of being able to patch any other team’s code, open source is part of everything we do. In return, we’ve released millions of lines of open source code, run programs like Google Summer of Code and Google Code-in, and sponsor open source projects and communities through organizations like Software Freedom Conservancy, the Apache Software Foundation, and many others.

  • Events

  • Web Browsers

  • SaaS/Back End

    • [Old] Hadoop Has Failed Us, Tech Experts Say

      The Hadoop community has so far failed to account for the poor performance and high complexity of Hadoop, Johnson says. “The Hadoop ecosystem is still basically in the hands of a small number of experts,” he says. “If you have that power and you’ve learned know how to use these tools and you’re programmer, then this thing is super powerful. But there aren’t a lot of those people. I’ve read all these things how we need another million data scientists in the world, which I think means our tools aren’t very good.”

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

  • Healthcare

    • Can Open Source EHRs Offer a New Path for Health IT Usability?

      More than half a decade after the EHR Incentive Programs sparked a frenzied rush to purchase and implement certified health IT tools, the electronic health record market has largely coalesced around a core set of commercial vendors.

      The names of the industry’s leading lights – Cerner, Epic, Allscripts, MEDITECH, NextGen, athenahealth – have become very familiar to anyone with an interest in data and documentation.

      When searching for a new EHR, a population health management solution, or a big data analytics toolset, providers have a lot of decisions to make. Cloud or server-based? CommonWell or Carequality? API-compatible or largely proprietary?

    • Bolton goes live with OpenEyes open source software

      A million-pound open source electronic patient record has gone live in a northern NHS trust’s eye department.

      Bolton NHS Foundation Trust deployed the ophthalmic OpenEyes software in January.

      David Haider, consultant ophthalmologist and chief clinical information officer at Bolton, told Digital Health News that he was doing a “slow deployment”, with the EPR being used in cataracts first.

      “Because we’re running from a fairly digitally immature trust, we didn’t want to do anything to fast.”

      Haider said the deployment had “not been particularly painful at all”.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

    • Benchmarks & Trying Out DragonFlyBSD 4.8

      With DragonFlyBSD 4.8 making its debut yesterday, I was excited to give this updated BSD operating system a try now that it has UEFI support and some performance improvements. Here are some early benchmark results of DragonFlyBSD 4.8 compared to 4.6 and Intel’s Clear Linux for some additional reference points.

  • Licensing/Legal

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

  • Programming/Development

Leftovers

  • Hardware

    • IEEE Looks Beyond Moore’s Law with IRDS Technology Roadmap

      IEEE is taking a lead role in building a comprehensive, end-to-end view of the computing ecosystem, including devices, components, systems, architecture, and software. In May 2016, IEEE announced the formation of the IRDS under the sponsorship of IEEE RC. The historical integration of IEEE RC and the International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors (ITRS) 2.0 addresses mapping the ecosystem of the new reborn electronics industry. The new beginning of the evolved roadmap—with the migration from ITRS to IRDS—is proceeding seamlessly as all the reports produced by the ITRS 2.0 represent the starting point of IRDS.

  • Health/Nutrition

  • Security

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Yazidi ‘superhero’ earns award for helping survivors of ISIS atrocities

      “The story of the Yazidis forced to flee the Islamic State genocide shocked the world in 2014, but the story of those who returned, who today risk their lives to help others, is still to be recognized,”

    • NYT Says Congress Has ‘Duty’ to Make War–Rather Than the Right to Reject It

      As reports come in detailing the degree to which Donald Trump has escalated the “War on ISIS”—and killed hundreds more civilians in the process—this would seem like a good time for the country to sit back and examine the United States’ approach to fighting “terrorism” and its recent iteration, the so-called Islamic State.

      Not for the New York Times editorial board, which didn’t take the wave of civilians deaths as a reason to question the wisdom of America’s various “counter-terror,” nation-building and regime-change projects in the Middle East, but instead chose to browbeat Congress into rubber-stamping a war that’s been going on for almost three years.

    • Advocate of Saddam/Al Qaeda Conspiracy Will Save Us From Fake News

      The New York Times’ Jim Rutenberg (3/26/17), alarmed by right-wing websites with “no commitment to truth,” is eager to balance them out with some respectable conservative journalists—and seems to think he has found one in Weekly Standard editor-in-chief Stephen Hayes.

    • Warning that Beijing’s military bases in South China Sea are ready for use

      “Beijing can now deploy military assets, including combat aircraft and mobile missile launchers, to the Spratly Islands at any time,” said the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI), part of Washington’s Center for Strategic and International Studies.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Humans are ‘learning to think as a species’

      Humanity is in the early stages of the most significant evolution in its history: learning to think as a species.

    • Sea Urchins Help Combat Invasive Algae on Corals

      Tiny sea urchins are helping to combat invasive algae in Kaneohe Bay—part of a restoration plan from the settlement of the 2005 grounding of the ship M/V Cape Flattery on the coral reefs south of Oahu. The grounding, and response efforts to free the ship, injured 19.5 acres of coral. Despite the injuries, the reef began recovering on its own. Rather than mess with that natural recovery, NOAA Fisheries, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Hawaii’s Division of Aquacitec Resources focused on restoring coral reefs in Kaneohe Bay.

    • The Rebirth of a Healthy Eelgrass Meadow

      The largest and most successful eelgrass restoration project on the planet is now growing in the very place where, since the 1930s, eelgrass had been uprooted by successive hurricanes and destroyed by disease. Located on the Atlantic side of Virginia’s Eastern Shore, the project’s innovative methods—supported by the Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program—are rapidly expanding eelgrass in the region and restoring habitat using methods that may be effective in other regions around the world.

      Seagrass beds not only improve coastal water quality by absorbing nutrients and trapping fine sediments but they also provide critical habitat for commercially important juvenile fish and crabs while absorbing large quantities of carbon dioxide from the air.

  • Finance

    • ‘Dog kennel’ flats in Barnet will be 40% smaller than Travelodge room

      Homes converted from London council offices are permitted to be far below national minimum size due to deregulation of planning rules.

    • Tencent Emerges as Musk’s China Booster With 5% Tesla Stake

      The Chinese internet giant isn’t just an investor, Musk said after his electric-car maker disclosed Tencent had bought a 5 percent stake in his company for $1.8 billion. He also referred to the owner of the WeChat and QQ messaging services as an adviser.

    • Tesla sells 5 percent stake to Chinese firm Tencent

      The same Chinese company that bought League of Legends a couple of years ago just became one of Tesla’s largest shareholders. According to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing dated March 24th, Tencent Holdings Ltd. has purchased a five percent stake in the company—8,167,544 shares to be exact. According to TechCrunch, the deal was arranged a week earlier, and Tencent paid $1.7 billion for the shares.

    • Uber to shut down Denmark operation over new taxi laws

      A company spokesman, Kristian Agerbo, said on Tuesday Uber “must take the consequences” of the new rules, which among other things will require cabs to be fitted with seat occupancy sensors and fare meters.

    • GameStop closing at least 150 stores due to poor Q4 sales

      Specific closures have yet to be announced, but the number makes up 2-3% of its overall business.

      Supposedly the closures are happening due to poor holiday sales. The Q4 window is often the high point of video game sales, yet despite the launch of new hardware in the PlayStation 4 Pro and a few major releases, it wasn’t enough in the company’s eyes.

    • Robots do destroy jobs and lower wages, says new study

      They found that each new robot added to the workforce meant the loss of between 3 and 5.6 jobs in the local commuting area. Meanwhile, for each new robot added per 1,000 workers, wages in the surrounding area would fall between 0.25 and 0.5 percent.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Is Donald Trump Functionally Illiterate?

      His use of Twitter demonstrates another one of his failings. The man cannot spell simple words, even with spellcheck on his phone. “Honor” becomes “honer.” Unprecedented” became “unpresidented.” This is also a common failing of people with dyslexia. The reading public can now easily distinguish between tweets written by Trump and those written by someone on his staff. You don’t need to know which phone was used to figure it out. The staff-written tweets contain complete sentences and correctly spelled words. They rarely, if ever, contain exclamation points. Twitter has been a perfect medium for Trump as he never has to write more than 148 characters. And don’t forget that this is a man who also never uses e-mail, something of a startling admission now that most business communications are conducted via e-mail.

    • Donald Trump Keeps Taking Credit For Tech Sector Jobs He Had Absolutely Nothing To Do With

      Last week, buried under the fracas surrounding the failed update to the Affordable Care Act, the Trump administration conducted an adorable little stage play few actually noticed. The Administration invited Charter CEO Tom Rutledge to the Oval Office, where the CEO — alongside Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Energy Secretary Rick Perry, repeatedly implied that Trump’s policies were somehow to thank for the creation of 20,000 jobs and $25 billion in investment at the cable giant. Press Secretary Sean Spicer was quick to applaud the “new” jobs on Twitter.

    • Sexism is OK (As Long as it’s Aimed at Melania, Apparently)

      She doesn’t sleep with him. They have separate beds, according to one anonymous source. And him?

      He has had a lot of women, some public and much, much younger, some only rumored about (but we know.) One of the most talked-about involved him, an older, powerful man, bedding a younger woman infatuated with him, and likely controlled by him.

      And it’s apparently OK to talk about all this, and shame the dutiful wife, even by feminists. At least as long as it is about Melania Trump, and not, for heaven’s sake, about that other White House power “couple.”

    • ‘He’s Going to Find a Way to Rule With the Corporations’

      The Washington Post ran an op-ed last month by a Princeton professor headlined “Ignore the Attacks on Neil Gorsuch. He’s an Intellectual Giant—and a Good Man.” But at that point, especially, you had to ask—what attacks?

      Well, it’s somewhat different now, with an announcement just this morning that Democrats may filibuster the nomination. But for media, it’s all over. The New York Times says Gorsuch will probably be confirmed, the Chicago Tribune said he’s earned it, USA Today says he “sailed through.”

    • Trump signs order dismantling Obama-era climate policies

      President Donald Trump on Tuesday signed an order to undo Obama-era climate change regulations, keeping a campaign promise to support the coal industry and calling into question U.S. support for an international deal to fight global warming.

      Flanked by coal miners and coal company executives, Trump proclaimed his “Energy Independence” executive order at the headquarters of the Environmental Protection Agency.

      The move drew swift backlash from a coalition of 23 states and local governments, as well as environmental groups, which called the decree a threat to public health and vowed to fight it in court.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • The Surveillance State Behind Russia-gate

      Amid the frenzy over the Trump team’s talks with Russians, are we missing a darker story, how the Deep State’s surveillance powers control the nation’s leaders, ask U.S. intelligence veterans Ray McGovern and Bill Binney.

      [...]

      This news presents Trump with an unwelcome but unavoidable choice: confront those who have kept him in the dark about such rogue activities or live fearfully in their shadow. (The latter was the path chosen by President Obama. Will Trump choose the road less traveled?)

      What President Trump decides will largely determine the freedom of action he enjoys as president on many key security and other issues. But even more so, his choice may decide whether there is a future for this constitutional republic. Either he can acquiesce to or fight against a Deep State of intelligence officials who have a myriad of ways to spy on politicians (and other citizens) and thus amass derogatory material that can be easily transformed into blackmail.

      This crisis (yes, “crisis” is an overused word, but in this highly unusual set of circumstances we believe it is appropriate) came to light mostly by accident after President Trump tweeted on March 4 that his team in New York City’s Trump Towers had been “wiretapped” by President Obama.

    • ORG calls out Amber Rudd on Investigatory Powers codes consultations

      The Open Rights Group (ORG), and a number of other such groups, were given a six-week period in which to respond to the Investigatory Powers crap that started in February. They’ve finished early and voiced a number of criticisms and concerns. They are concerned that the Home Office has been a bit of a dick here, and chose to communicate in lawyer speak, presumably with the intention of bamboozling people.

    • Amber Rudd will break encryption

      Today Home Secretary Amber Rudd claimed that end-to-end encryption is “absolutely unacceptable” when referring to how she believed terrorists primarily communicate.

      Speaking on The Andrew Marr Show, the Home Secretary said: “It used to be people just steam open envelopes or just listen in on phones when they wanted to find out what they were doing” and has further added “…but in this situation we need to make sure our intelligence services have the ability to get into situations like encrypted WhatsApp.”

      When Rudd was told directly that she may need to legislate in order to achieve this goal, she responded by saying “…we would not resile from taking action if we need to.” and later added that she was not stepping away from legislation.

    • Republicans in Congress Are Disregarding Their Own Privacy Policies

      Under the repeal, the companies that provide your broadband service—be it Comcast, Cox, Time Warner, AT&T, or Verizon—will be able to engage in all sorts of underhanded ways to monetize your personal information. They’ll be allowed to collect your browsing history, hijack your search results, insert unwanted advertisements, and sell your data to marketers. In other words, if this repeal passes, no user should rest assured again.

    • Five Ways Cybersecurity Will Suffer If Congress Repeals the FCC Privacy Rules

      Back in October of 2016, the Federal Communications Commission passed some pretty awesome rules that would bar your Internet provider from invading your privacy. The rules would keep Internet providers like Comcast and Time Warner Cable from doing things like selling your personal information to marketers, inserting undetectable tracking headers into your traffic, or recording your browsing history to build up a behavioral advertising profile on you—unless they got your permission first. The rules were a huge victory for U.S. Internet users who value their privacy.

    • Small ISPs Oppose Congress’s Move to Abolish Privacy Protections

      The Internet is up in arms over Congress’s plan to drastically reduce your privacy online, and that includes small Internet providers and networking companies. Many of them agree that we need the Federal Communication Commission’s rules to protect our privacy online, and seventeen of them have written to Congress today to express their concerns.

      The situation before the FCC’s intervention was succinctly described in the fine print of Verizon’s privacy policy: “If you do not want information collected for marketing purposes from services such as the Verizon Wireless Mobile Internet services, you should not use those particular services.” That was refreshingly honest. Other ISPs including AT&T, Charter, and Sprint also monitored their customers in intrusive ways, but were less frank in admitting it, even in their privacy policies.

    • Privacy By Practice, Not Just By Policy: A System Administrator Advocating for Student Privacy

      When Matt L. started to raise the alarm about educational technology in his school district, he knew it would ruffle some feathers.

      As a system administrator (or sysadmin), Matt has had a front-row seat to the increasing use of technology in his rural, public school district. At first, the district only issued Chromebooks to students in guest “kiosk” mode for test-taking. Over time, though, each of the district’s 10,000 students got individual access to school-issued devices, from iPads for younger students who cannot yet type to Chromebooks and G-Suite for Education logins for students as young as third grade.

    • Consumer Broadband Privacy Protections Are Dead

      Last week, the Senate voted 50-48 along party lines to kill consumer broadband privacy protections. That vote then continued today in the House, where GOP lawmakers finished the job, apparently happy to advertise how ISP campaign contributions consistently, directly manifest in anti-consumer policy with a 215 to 205 vote (you can find a full vote breakdown here). The rules, which were supposed to take effect this month, were killed using the Congressional Review Act — which not only eliminates the protections, but limits the agency’s ability to issue similar rules down the road.

      The broadband industry’s effort to kill the rules is one of the uglier examples of pay-to-play government in recent memory. The protections, originally passed last October by the FCC, have been endlessly demonized by the broadband industry, despite the fact that they’re relatively straight forward. The rules would have simply required that ISPs are transparent about what they collect (and who they sell it to), and provide working opt out tools. ISPs were also required to have consumers opt in for more sensitive data collection (financial, browser history data).

    • [Older] Your browsing history may be up for sale soon. Here’s what you need to know
    • For sale: Your private browsing history

      The White House issued a statement today supporting the House’s action, and saying that Trump’s advisors will recommend that he sign the legislation. That would make the death of the Federal Communications Commission’s privacy rules official.

    • House of Representatives votes 215-205 to do away with Broadband Privacy, allow ISPs to sell your private internet history

      After only one hour of debate and no allowance for amendments, S.J. Res 34 passed through the House of Representatives with a majority vote of 215-205 along party lines. President Trump has signaled that he supports S.J.Res 34 and will sign it.

    • More Prosecutors Abusing Their Access And Power To Illegally Eavesdrop On Conversations

      Last time we checked in with (former) Brooklyn prosecutor Tara Lenich, she was facing state charges for abusing wiretap warrants to listen in on conversations between a police detective and one of her colleagues. This stemmed from what was termed a “personal entanglement” between her and the detective.

      The wiretap warrants couldn’t be obtained without a judge’s signature. Since there was no probable cause for the warrant, no judge would sign them. Lenich had a solution. She just forged the judge’s signature on the warrant. And then she kept forging judges’ signatures, stretching out her illicit surveillance for more than a year, with a faked signature on every 30-day renewal.

    • Facial recognition database used by FBI is out of control, House committee hears

      Database contains photos of half of US adults without consent, and algorithm is wrong nearly 15% of time and is more likely to misidentify black people

    • When border patrol demands your phone: Our view

      Shibly — a 23-year-old filmmaker, New York native and the son of Syrian immigrants — had already given up his cellphone and password for an unwarranted search a few days prior while re-entering the USA. This time, he refused. Within seconds, Shibly was surrounded by officers who grabbed his legs, placed him in a chokehold and physically removed his cellphone, according to an NBC News report. Watching this, McCormick dutifully complied when asked to surrender her phone.

    • Erdogan’s International Network of Muslim Cleric Spies

      it also reflects a longer-standing problem specific to Turkey and Europe — namely, the Turkish government’s conviction that diaspora Turks everywhere in the world owe their first allegiance to Turkey. Erdogan doesn’t just want Turkish expats’ votes; he wants their unwavering loyalty, and, to the consternation of European governments, he has proved willing to go to extreme lengths to secure it.

    • German official accuses Turkey of ‘unacceptable’ spying against Gulen supporters

      Prosecutors are already investigating the use of imams to transmit information on Gulenists to Ankara from German mosques.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Large Amount Of Consumer Tech Is Counterfeit, OECD Report Finds

      The report was launched ahead of the 2017 OECD Global Anti-Corruption and Integrity Forum on 30-31 March.

    • Trademarks

      • Urban Homesteaders Win Cancellation of Bogus Trademarks

        Urban homesteaders can speak freely about their global movement for sustainable living, after convincing the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to cancel bogus trademarks for the terms “urban homesteading” and “urban homestead.” The authors and activists were represented by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and law firm of Winston & Strawn.

        “This is a victory for free speech and common sense. Threats over this trademark harmed us and the whole urban homesteading community—a group of people who are dedicated to sharing information about sustainable living online and elsewhere,” said Kelly Coyne, co-author with Erik Knutzen of The Urban Homestead: Your Guide to Self-Sufficient Living in the Heart of the City. “We are so pleased to have this issue settled at last, so we can concentrate on making urban life healthier and happier for anyone who wants to participate in this global effort.”

    • Copyrights

      • Let’s Make The Copyright Office Less Political, Not More

        After three years of discussing changes to copyright law, Congress’s first bill is a strange one. House and Senate Judiciary Committee leaders have introduced a bill that would radically change the way the Register of Copyrights is picked – taking the process out of the hands of the Librarian of Congress and putting it into the hands of Congress and the President. That sounds like a pretty technical move, but it could have real consequences for future innovation and creativity. Let’s break it down.

        As it stands now, the Register is appointed by the Librarian of Congress, and serves under her direction and oversight. The “Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act of 2017” would require that the head of the Copyright Office be appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate, and would authorize the President to remove the Register. This would make the Register’s appointment process more democratic – but also more a captive of special interests.

      • Supreme Court Won’t Hear Case About Copyright Protection Of Pre-1972 Sound Recordings

        For many years now, we’ve been talking about the copyright questions surrounding pre-1972 sound recordings. There are a ton of ongoing cases about this and it may be a bit confusing to keep up with it all. In short, under old copyright law, copyright only applied to the composition itself, but not the recordings. Many states then tried to step in and created state copyright laws (or common law doctrine via the courts) that gave sound recordings some form of copyright protection — some of it much crazier than ordinary copyright law. Eventually Congress federalized copyright for sound recordings, but it didn’t apply to any sound recordings from before 1972 (and a few at the very, very, very beginning of 1972, but it’s easier just to say “pre-1972 sound recordings.”) And then, even though the 1976 Copyright Act took away state copyright laws having any power, they still applied to certain aspects of pre-1972 sound recordings. This has… made a mess of things. The easiest solution would be to just admit this is dumb and say that pre-1972 works should be covered by federal copyright law, but lots of folks have been against this, starting with the RIAA (more on that in a bit).

        And with things being confusing, some copyright holders have been using the weird status on pre-1972 sound recordings to effectively try to shakedown online streaming music sites into giving them better deals. The various cases have been all over the place, with the first few cases coming out saying that because pre-1972 sound recordings aren’t covered under federal copyright law, things are different and copyright holders can sue over them. This upended decades of what was considered settled law.

      • The Web Screws Artists Again… By Letting Them Have A Normal Life

        For pretty much all of the history of Techdirt, we’ve been hearing from the legacy entertainment industries about how the internet has been destroying art and destroying culture. They were making things worse, and we’d have more starving artists and less content — and whatever content we did have would definitely be terrible. That’s the story we were told over and over and over again — and there are still a few in the industry who pitch this story.

        The problem is it’s simply not true.

        [...]

      • DMCA Doesn’t Shield Cloudflare From Anti-Piracy Injunctions, Court Rules

03.28.17

In Attempt to Promote the Horrific UPC (Poor Quality of Patents Everywhere), Minnoye and Casado Cerviño Attack Their Own Staff for Saying the Truth

Posted in Europe, Patents at 9:37 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Heralding an era of endless, frivolous patent litigation in Europe?

Minnoye MAGA
Destroying the Office and making the staff pay for it!

Summary: An attack on truth itself — the disintegration of the European Patent Office (EPO) — carries on, after staff found the courage to tell delegates what had happened due to Battistelli’s policies and incredible oppression that prevails and expands

10 days ago we mentioned an attack on staff for saying the truth about decline in patent quality at the EPO — a serious issue that would damage if not destroy Europe’s industry, more so (and more quickly) if the UPC ever became a reality, enabling a lot more financially-prohibitive litigation — often using bogus patents — against vulnerable companies all around Europe (unable to afford a defense, i.e. challenge to the patents). Companies already know they would hobble under a UPC-like regime and they complain about this.

The rant from Minnoye and Casado Cerviño was documented here before. The cause for their rant was originally delivered in German and the Central Staff Committee thankfully translated that into English. “Attack on quality delivered by EPO staff” is what they call it (playing along with the misleading narrative of “attack”), explaining that “Vice-Presidents of DG 1 and DG 2 stated on 17 March 2017 in the Intranet: “Staff Representation criticizes EPO quality during Administrative Council”.

Here is the transcript of the intervention:

Sehr geehrte Delegierte,

der Weg zum einheitlichen Patentschutz ist sicher von größter Bedeutung für das Amt und das Personal. Daher ergreift der Personalausschuss in Absprache mit dem Ratspräsidenten auch regelmäßig das Wort, um Sie über die neuesten Entwicklungen im Personal diesbezüglich zu informieren. Es ist ja die statuarische Aufgabe des Personalausschusses, die Interessen des Personals zu vertreten und für den erforderlichen Kontakt zu der zuständigen Stelle, hier dem Verwaltungsrat, zu sorgen.

Mehr und mehr Kolleginnen und Kollegen sprechen den Personalausschuss mit ihren Sorgen an, dass der Weg zum einheitlichen Patentschutz in Gefahr ist. Drei häufig genannte Probleme möchte ich herausgreifen und Sie um Ihre geschätzte Aufmerksamkeit bitten.

1. In der täglichen Arbeit des Patentprüfers ist nicht mehr genügend Zeit, um den Stand der Technik zu einer Patentanmeldung hinreichend zu ermitteln. Daher werden mehr und mehr Patente erteilt, die nie hätten erteilt werden dürfen. Wenn die renommierte juristische Fachzeitschrift JUVE Rechtsmarkt davon berichtet, dass 54 % der Industrievertreter nicht mehr mit der Qualität unserer Patenterteilungsverfahren zufrieden sind, dann sollten wir uns Sorgen machen. Die implementierten Qualitätsmechanismen sind ungeeignet, um die Qualität der Recherchen und erteilten Patente zu gewährleisten. Dies berichten unsere Kolleginnen und Kollegen.

2. Die in Recherche, Sachprüfung und Formalprüfung eingesetzte Software weist zahlreiche Mängel auf, sie ist unergonomisch und teilweise unbrauchbar. Dies berichten unsere Kolleginnen und Kollegen.

3. Die Prüfungsabteilungen fühlen sich immer mehr der Einflussnahme durch die Verwaltung ausgesetzt. Aus objektiver Sicht ist immer öfter die Besorgnis der Befangenheit der Patentprüfer begründet. Dies berichten unsere Kolleginnen und Kollegen.

Dies sind keine guten Nachrichten, es ist aber die Pflicht des Personalausschusses, den Verwaltungsrat darüber zu informieren, welche Sorgen das Personal äußert. Ich kann Ihnen lediglich versichern, dass der Personalausschuss immer bereit sein wird, durch konstruktive Vorschläge dabei zu helfen, die Probleme zu beseitigen.

Meine Damen und Herren, ich danke Ihnen für Ihre geschätzte Aufmerksamkeit!

English translation:

Dear Delegates

The path towards Unitary Patent protection is for sure of the utmost importance both for the Office and for its staff. Therefore, the Staff Committee regularly takes the floor – in agreement with the Chairman of the Council – in order to inform you about the latest staff developments in this regard. According to our Codex, the Staff Committee shall represent the interests of staff and maintain appropriate contact with the competent administrative authorities, which here is the Administrative Council.

More and more colleagues have addressed the Staff Committee about the perceived risks that concern them as we head towards the Unitary Patent. There are three specific issues repeatedly mentioned that I would like to bring to your attention:

1. Patent examiners no longer have enough time in their daily work for an adequate search and analysis of the “state-of-the-art” for a patent application. This implies that more and more patents are being granted than should ever have been. When the renowned, independent judicial journal JUVE Rechtsmarkt reports that 54% of industry representatives are no longer satisfied with the quality of our patent grant procedures, then we should all be very concerned. The internally implemented quality controls are insufficient for guaranteeing to maintain the current quality of search reports and granted patents. This is what our colleagues tell us.

2. The software tools used in search, examination and formalities show numerous deficiencies: many are not ergonomic and some of them are simply unusable. This is what our colleagues tell us.

3. The Examining Divisions feel more and more to be under the influence of the administration. From an external, objective viewpoint, it seems more and more justified to question the impartiality of the patent examiners. This is what our colleagues tell us.

Although this is not good news, it remains the duty of the Staff Committee to inform the Administrative Council about any such concerns expressed to them by the staff. Nevertheless, I can ensure you that the Staff Committee shall always be ready to help with constructive proposals for resolving any of these identified problems.

Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you very much for your kind attention!

Regarding claims that “path towards Unitary Patent protection is for sure of the utmost importance both for the Office and for its staff,” we don’t quite agree. In fact, UPC would make many people redundant. The EPO has not been honest about it. It’s basically honest about nothing these days, including the prospects (of lack thereof) of the UPC. Regarding ergonomics, it will be the subject of future articles of ours.

We are gratified to see that EPO staff is finally speaking out about a subject that has irked us for years, seeing in particular how software was being patented in defiance of directives, the EPC, common sense, and economic sense. Software developers absolutely do not want patents in their vicinity. It only inhibits progress.

Another Likely Casualty of the Battistelli Regime at the EPO: Validity of Decisions of Terrified Boards of Appeal Judges

Posted in Europe, Patents at 8:53 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

A shocked Battistelli

Summary: Under pressure and habitual intervention from a demoralising, overreaching, and out-of-control President (from an entirely different division), examiners and judges ‘normalise’ the practice of granting patents on genetics — a very slippery slope in terms of patent scope

EARLIER today we wrote about patents on life being granted by the EPO, even though the USPTO — owing largely to an excellent PTAB — rejects these after Mayo and Alice. This served to show that the EPO had probably become more lenient than the US patent system and strict on nothing except 100% obedience to Battistelli with his ‘production’ obsession. A recent decision from BoA publicly complained about loss of independence, so it’s not unthinkable that the Battistelli-led thugs exercise control over judges too, particularly ones who deny patents.

“So they’re competing over who will ‘own’ genetics. Get it? Life.”There is a lot of news today about the CRISPR decision/s that we mentioned in the morning. ERS Genomics, for example, issued a press release and copies of it all over the place. To them, it’s great news, but at whose expense? US media explains today that “[w]ith such a radical new technology, there is extreme financial opportunity. Rights of ownership over the CRISPR technique have lingered since its initial discovery. Recently, the CRISPR patent disputes were partially settled between the Broad Institute of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard, and the University of California (UC) Berkeley. On Feb. 15, the U.S. Patent Trial and Appeal Board ruled in favour of the Broad Institute. As a result, the Broad Institute won the patent pertaining to editing eukaryotic genomes, a patent that UC Berkeley considers to be interfering with its claim.”

So they’re competing over who will ‘own’ genetics. Get it? Life.

“More importantly, why did examiners (and maybe BoA some day) allow this? Could it be pressure from the top-level management — pressure that they have already complained about?”This afternoon we have found many new articles and briefs about it, e.g. “CRISPR Therapeutics Announces European Patent for CRISPR/Cas Gene Editing” (also here), “EPO to grant UC, Berkeley CRISPR patent”, “Take that Editas: CRISPR Therapeutics and colleagues win a European round in the IP tug-of-war over gene editing tech”, and “CRISPR Therapeutics announces European patent for CRISPR/Cas gene editing”. So will the EPO now receive a lot of applications for similar patents on life? ‘Production’! Is the EPO prepared to become the world’s laughing stock? It was bad enough when pigs, plants and seeds got patented — something which even the EPO eventually realised it cannot carry on allowing (only after many protests, including from the highest offices in Europe).

Based on today’s trading [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11], some people expect to profit from this grab or monopolisation of genetics, but again, at whose expense? The externalities are vast!

“This will be another toxic legacy of Battistelli, which extends well beyond the Office and tarnishes the track record of the entire Organisation. It’s therefore imperative that the tyranny is smashed as soon as possible.”More importantly, why did examiners (and maybe BoA some day) allow this? Could it be pressure from the top-level management — pressure that they have already complained about?

In the mean time, based on another filing and press release, “Key BioTime Patents [are] Upheld by European Patent Office” and this one says that a “large pharmaceutical company and an anonymous filer challenged the EPO’s previous grant of two European patents (EP2554661 and EP2147094), which cover the proprietary directed differentiation methods to produce pluripotent stem cell-derived cell replacement therapies being developed to treat retinal degenerative diseases such as age-related macular degeneration (“AMD”).”

We are not trying to suggest that the BoA are corruptible but rather to suggest that their loss of independence — something which Battistelli was very eager to ensure (with persistent punishments) — will impact their decisions and set precedential laws (decisions) that are dangerous. This will be another toxic legacy of Battistelli, which extends well beyond the Office and tarnishes the track record of the entire Organisation. It’s therefore imperative that the tyranny is smashed as soon as possible.

Europe is up for sale. Now it’s the turn of living organisms to be ‘sold’ to US corporations that assert they ‘own’ genetics and can therefore tax reproduction, medical treatments, breeding, etc. Where does this madness end?

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