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03.26.17

Heiko Maas and the State of Germany Viewed as Increasingly Complicit in EPO Scandals and Toxic UPC Agenda

Posted in Europe, Patents at 8:19 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: It is becoming hard if not impossible to interpret silence and inaction from Maas as a form of endorsement for everything the EPO has been doing, with the German delegates displaying more of that apathy which in itself constitutes a form of complicity

WE PREVIOUSLY wrote about Maas supporting the UPC, which would exacerbate the already-growing problem of patent trolls in Germany. What does Maas want for his country and what does he envision for Europe? The same mess that Battistelli is envisioning?

“The German delegation sometimes expresses strong criticism of Battistelli’s reform proposals during Council meetings,” one reader recently told us. “But in the end, they almost never vote against any of them.

Heiko Maas sale“An example is the recently-endorsed proposal ‘functional allowances’ which authorises the payment of additional boni to some selected managers. Its lack of clear criteria and transparency were criticised in the March 2017 Council meeting. Other examples are two reforms voted in the December 2016 Council meeting: the Internal Appeals Committee reform (which bears a great risk that the composition of Battistelli’s Internal Appeals Committee will be ruled illegal by the ILO tribunal again; it would be the third time), and the removal of the Boards of Appeals to Haar (which was qualified as both unnecessary and non-urgent by many delegations).

“The cartoon apparently makes fun of the German delegation’s indecisive maneuvering.”

Rent a Maas

As a reminder, the head of the German delegation might be Battistelli’s successor [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6] and German parliament (Bundestag) recently did a charade of a vote where only 5% of politicians actually voted [1, 2]. It became a publicity stunt of Team UPC and EPO management; no doubt Maas too was pleased. As far as we’re aware, neither he nor Merkel did as little as react to the letter from the International and European Public Services Organisation [1, 2]. It’s a disgrace; it damages Germany’s reputation in Europe and worldwide.

With IP Kat Coverage of EPO Scandals Coming to an End (Officially), Techrights and The Register Remain to Cover New Developments

Posted in Europe, Patents at 7:26 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

EPO is playing a game of Whac-A-Mole, but McCarthyism tends to backfire

Kieren McCarthySummary: One final post about the end of Merpel’s EPO coverage, which is unfortunate but understandable given the EPO’s track record attacking the media, including blogs like IP Kat, sites of patent stakeholders, and even so-called media partners

“Great blogs come and go,” said one person about the end of Eponia coverage by Merpel (EPO scandals) and another person asked: “So this is the end of any possibility for people to give their comments on eponia? Where else can we go?”

Well, Techrights remains committed to covering EPO matters to the very end (of Team Battistelli and those who protected it, Jesper Kongstad included). This may take some time, but we’ll get there. I’m not going anywhere, not even if the EPO is attempting to silence me. The more aggressive the EPO becomes, the more enemies it will make, and the more eager they will be to end this aggression. Battistelli and his cronies already know that they are circling down the vortex and they attempt to grab any money they can put their claws on while descending towards the drain. They’re making an implosion or brewing an explosion even bigger (when of if authorities finally tackle these issues and belatedly investigate).

Another person later said:

Dear Merpel

Thank you for your commentary and hard work. It is very sad to see you bow (meow!) out of commenting on EPONIA matters. I do not understand but I am grateful.

You have provided balanced insight into difficult situations, and hope for the unheard.

There must be a reason behind this. If it is personal – so be it – sometimes life takes us away from the path we might have wished to follow and I thank you for your efforts.

If it is something else – whether external pressure or internal frustration – could you try to find another blogger who can take on the mantel of Merpel in this role of providing sensible commentary on EPONIA. Son of Merpel (or daughter of Merpel) has a nice ring to it, someone to take on this difficult, task. Someone must be the “ringbearer” if the present incumbent cannot go on.

Who will take up the challenge – Merpel would you help such a person if they approached you anonymously? I do hope so.

“Cutting, unabashed and your often funny interventions make you special,” another reader (“Ashley”) said. “We will miss you.”

Here is a joke about Battistelli barking:

Personally I never understood that a cat could understand something of this IP business.This is not serious.

I see despite my greatness and endless competence in all matters I do not master, how difficult this is. So a cat talking IP…. Hahahahahah

All of this must be modernised at once: now the cat will be investing its time in more productive actions, eg chasing mice and if below target, the cat will meet the Dog.

Benoit stop barking, quiet please I am dealing with it, calm down my Benoit, calm down, the cat will soon get it trust me

“Raising the profile of the goings on at the EPO might have been better accomplished had the blog posting not been under the pseudonym of a kat,” noted another person. “Why anyone would believe that others will pay heed to such anonymous comments is beyond me.”

Considering the abuse by the EPO’s management against bloggers and apparently even broadcasters, anonymity may make sense. These people are so certain they’re immune from prosecution, so they’ll stop at nothing!

“Thanks Merpel,” wrote another reader. “Giving paws for thought. Enjoy a bit of me-ow time… And ignore the snarky know it all comments. We know you’ve made a difference!”

She has. She helped us too.

The following commenter asked, “can’t you stay one more year”? Well, Battistelli is staying one more year, unless delegates can get their act together and toss out Battistelli prematurely. Here is the comment in full:

During all these years Merpel has been our “radio Londres” the voice of the resistance.
Things would have been much worse without you.
Where would have Laurent found a place to speak, to be listened ?
We have heard the voice of the real Europeans who are the examiners, but also seen the pure mediocrity of those who pretend to be superior but in reality are less than nothing.
Thanks to you (and a few others) he has lost the battle of communication and this made him even more mad and mean than he already was.
I thank you for all, but things here are dark and I fear the last year is going to turn even darker.
Please Merpel, can’t you stay one more year ?

“I used to say of Merpel that her presence on the Eponia battlefield made the difference of forty thousand men,” this reader remarked and another person said:

Dear Merpel, we hate to see you go. Your coverage was precise, the documents good. The problem with the “wider press” is that often they have no clue at IP and especially the special legal construct of the EPO. You did know all that (see your impressive summary in this post) – a tip of the hat! The style of your writing is also something I’ll miss. Oh yes – one last detail re BB: the restriction of internal appeals at the EPO in 2011 already, to the effect that appeals against “general” regulations were not possible anymore, i.e. they had to go to ILO. The start of the deluge there. With all these actions, its hard not to see a master plan in action. The final goal??? All the best to your kittens, Merpel! Maybe one of them wants to continue this sorely needed blog?

That’s actually an important point right there about lack of understanding among journalists. This is so often exploited by EPO management, which attempts to paint staff as spoiled (obsessing over money) while distracting from the serious abuses against that staff.

The following comment corrected a statement made by Merpel:

But a Dutch court decision lifting the immunity of the EPO from national jurisdiction, on the basis that the delay at ILO-AT denied EPO employees effective access to justice, was overturned on appeal.

As I understood the Appeal Court ruling, that’s not quite correct, Merpel.

The EPO’s immunity was lifted not because of delays at the ILOAT but because the Staff Union (as a collective body) has no possibility to bring a complaint before the ILOAT. In other words the (main) reason for lifting immunity in that case was because the Staff Union has no access to the ILOAT.

The position taken by the Dutch Supreme court appears to have been that this did not amount to denial of access to justice. For the Supreme Court it was sufficient that individual Staff Union members could – as EPO staff members – bring individual complaints before the ILOAT.

Earlier this month EPO management lied to staff about ILOAT. They hoped that nobody would challenge them on it, so they posted this internally only.

The following comment said that “at the EPO’s Administrative Council, voters are not so dumb” but many may be corruptible and they are managed or represented by a disgraced Dane who misleads and antagonises them. Here is the comment in full:

We are living through a period in which voters notoriously cast their vote against their own long term interests. Meanwhile, at the EPO’s Administrative Council, voters are not so dumb. They vote quite deliberately in what they callously and ruthlessly perceive to be their own national (and maybe also personal) financial interest. EPO staff are seen as privileged and pampered, and therefore undeserving, so that their warnings of irreparable harm being done to the Organisation by its President are hand-waved away as nothing more than self-serving. How ironic!

How naive is it, to suppose that AC members would vote any other way?

We quite liked the following comment as well. It says that the “IP world value the EPO (as was). If it were otherwise, would any of us be quite so concerned about how bad things have got?”

What is your point? Does the EPO deserve a pat on the back for some of its truly worthwhile achievements? Absolutely! But does this mean that the media should think twice before reporting very disturbing developments in Eponia? Absolutely not!!

Actually, this all goes to show how highly those in the IP world value the EPO (as was). If it were otherwise, would any of us be quite so concerned about how bad things have got?

This was preceded by the statement that “there is a layer of society that considers itself to be above the law [...] but [nothing assures] absolute immunity.”

It is not naïve to assume that AC members (and the EPO management) would respect the rule of law. On the contrary, it is the minimum that the users of the patent system (and the general public) should be entitled to expect.

Whilst this situation has been allowed to persist by the EPO management’s reliance upon legal immunities (and cronyism within the AC), this is no answer to the basic charge – that what has been done is contrary to EU law, the EPC and the European Convention on Human Rights.

I know that there is a layer of society that considers itself to be above the law, but to allow this situation to continue unchallenged would frankly not only be immoral but also a high risk strategy for those involved who do not have (or who cannot guarantee retaining) absolute immunity.

It seems as though, at least here in Britain, it’s mostly us and The Register who are left to cover the EPO saga. The Register‘s Kieren McCarthy can be contacted here and we too can be contacted anonymously.

Everyone, Including Patent Law Firms, Will Suffer From the Demise of the EPO

Posted in Europe, Patents at 6:28 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

And those bearing the most brunt are probably European businesses, which will fall victim to litigation over dubious patents

Too Much of a Good Thing Can Be Bad
The quality of patents matters, as too much of a “good thing” — as the saying goes — can be disastrous.

Summary: Concerns about quality of patents granted by the EPO (EPs) are publicly raised by industry/EPO insiders, albeit in an anonymous fashion

“It is clear that this blog has been exposed to [EPO] pressure and had ceeded to it in the past,” said one comment to IP Kat readers, after the blog had announced it would stop covering EPO scandals. “The present [EPO] management has reduced the EPO to a money printing machine which suits most applicants and more so representatives just fine.”

So there is finally growing consensus on the EPO‘s management being reduced to just a bunch of greedy people turning the Office into “a money printing machine” (and personal cash cow)? Even if that means that this will kill the Office not too long from now? The emerging consensus regarding the EPO is that its management is a “swamp” that needs draining. Here is the curious comment:

Really it is not too much of a pity that the feline is no longer reporting one what is none of its concerns. It is clear that this blog has been exposed to pressure and had ceeded to it in the past. Non-profit or not, this is a blog run by patent attorneys. The conflict at the EPO is a social question of labour law and human Rights. Here you find patent and TM and copyright attorneys, not experts in interational labour law or human rights. At most educated amateurs, in any case interested ones, It shows how desperate the staff of the EPO has got to be to look and in appearance find support by their natural adversaries. As it is not dignified for the EBOA to publish their decisions on Wikipedia it is not dignified for public officials to publish their concerns on a blog like this. The appropriate fora are others, e.g. that of the SUEPO and maybe even techrights. The applicant’s are not the customers of the examiners they don’t pay their salaries, fees are not prices, their interest is dialectically and diametrally oppossed and should remain so. Applicant’s by default are not interested in quality. The present management has reduced the EPO to a money printing machine which suits most applicants and more so representatives just fine. The vast majority of their income comes from prosecution before offices not before courts Risk of litigation nullity etc are theortical issues. A negiglible fraction of granted patents either get legally enforced or challenged. The reasons for holding a patent are different. Tax optimisation, balance sheet cosmetics and some even less noble aims. Examiners on the contrary work for the public. They protect the intellectual property of the public, not that of the applicant. A fair fraction of them is not even European and hence not a stakeholder in a European organisation.

“No real checking of quality is done” at the EPO. So says the following comment:

I fulhheartedly agree.

As chair I see a decline, as OPPO member I see a decline, and it all boils down to second and chair not having the time to actually check the work. The search checks (which get ISO 9001 recorded) are positive, because the time allowance is such, that you cannot do much more than understanding the subject-matter of the application, and see what was done, and click through the forms. No real checking of quality is done. 2h is really on the short side, at least in my field…
But then, quality is very subjective here..

A previous president, Mr Kober, took a stack of search file, had them duplicated so that another search examiner could do exactly the same file. He expected in most cases the same documents to be cited. This turned out to be illusionary. But, the same application with different searches had different documents, but the differences in which dependent claim may be positive was negligible. Different reasoning, same result.
I fear, this would not be the case anymore, if the same exercise was repeated. Also because the new search tools would find the very similar first done search, and the second search examiner would build on that or even stop the search there….

One person rightly took issue with the supposition that “attorneys and EPO staff are ‘natural adversaries’ and ‘their interest is dialectically and diametrally oppossed [sic] and should remain so’.” There’s a distinction to be made between attorneys and law firms, and moreover between the patent microcosm (or maximalists) and people who are in it for the science. To quote the explanation:

I must remember this next time I chair an opposition. Now, how do I manage to annoy both parties so that they both feel persecuted?? Once more, a comment says far more about the writer. As an examiner, my only aim is to examine applications based on the EPC. I may get it wrong – in either direction – but there really is no interest here in opposing you just for the fun of it. Under the current regime, I stand to gain a lot more from being as generous to you as possible (within the EPC). As for oppositions or appeals, the idea that the judges are adversaries of every attorney is worthy of far wittier analysis than I can muster.

Best wishes for your future dealings. Trust me, we really have never been out to get you (yes, I know, I would say that…)

Looking at the USPTO right now, patent quality has improved. It’s moving in exactly the opposite direction (opposite from the EPO’s). Very soon it might turn out that, based on the Supreme Court, patent maximalism will regress even further. Here is what the EFF wrote regarding Impression Products v Lexmark International the other day:

Today, the Supreme Court heard arguments in a case that could allow companies to keep a dead hand of control over their products, even after you buy them. The case, Impression Products v. Lexmark International, is on appeal from the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, who last year affirmed its own precedent allowing patent holders to restrict how consumers can use the products they buy. That decision, and the precedent it relied on, departs from long established legal rules that safeguard consumers and enable innovation.

When you buy something physical—a toaster, a book, or a printer, for example—you expect to be free to use it as you see fit: to adapt it to suit your needs, fix it when it breaks, re-use it, lend it, sell it, or give it away when you’re done with it. Your freedom to do those things is a necessary aspect of your ownership of those objects. If you can’t do them, because the seller or manufacturer has imposed restrictions or limitations on your use of the product, then you don’t really own them. Traditionally, the law safeguards these freedoms by discouraging sellers from imposing certain conditions or restrictions on the sale of goods and property, and limiting the circumstances in which those restrictions may be imposed by contract.

We wrote about that last year. A Justice who was involved in Alice and is now involved in this case (Stephen Breyer) seems likely to reduce the scope and magnitude of patents, which is why maximalists have been attacking him lately.

Yes, Battistelli’s Ban on EPO Strikes (or Severe Limitation Thereof) is a Violation of Human Rights

Posted in Europe, Patents at 5:55 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

British unions must defend their right to strike – and become better at it
Reference: British unions must defend their right to strike – and become better at it

Summary: Battistelli has curtailed even the right to strike, yet anonymous cowards attempt to blame the staff (as in patent examiners) for not going out of their way to engage in ‘unauthorised’ strikes (entailing dismissal)

THE EPO had a general strike one year ago. The Office was half empty. But it only lasted one day, it resulted in paycuts for those who participated, and it took a monumental effort to organise, with permission sought from the bosses under extreme constraints and risk to those voting/joining. This isn’t what we should expect in the 21st century, certainly not in the EPO. The whole thing (the strike and vote for a strike) just came to show how badly oppressed EPO staff really is. For Battistelli and Bergot, moreover, attempts to prevent the strike were self-defeating and they just served to reinforce the point made by disgruntled staff (almost everyone vote for a strike).

The other day we noticed the following comment, which responded to provocation that we refuse to repeat (similar provocation, maybe from the same person, was posted among comments in The Register at the same time). To quote the response alone:

I understand that the examiners have moved to this working practice because Battistelli introduced Rank and Yank. Last year, the EPO granted 90,000 patents, which is 50% more than in the years before. The examiners increased their production by 50% just to compete with their colleagues for a salary increase of about 2,000 euro per year, which only half of the examiners are entitled to receive.

[provocation omitted]

I do not know anyone who works “for the bonus of 2,000 euro”. I certainly don’t. In fact, I couldn’t care less if I get the bonus or not. What is much more worrying is missing your target by such an amount that you get a poor report.

“But it is even worse. A judge remains in limbo, union officials have been fired, the appeal court will be moved to the outskirts of Munich. And the staff in the EPO remains silent. Poor people! They get what they deserve. “Even if you win the rat race, you are still a rat.” ”

Unfortunately we are powerless, with the changes that BB has introduced. We have been been as non-silent as possible, witness the various protest marches that we have held, resulting in occasional negative reports in the (local) press. I’m curious what else it is that you think we should do under the current management – you may have rights in your country (whichever that is), unfortunately, as has been repeatedly demonstrated, we don’t. Obviously, when they decide to start investigating the contents of our private electronic devices, not only will we have no rights, we will also have no privacy.

I am posting anonymously for obvious reasons.

In reply to the above, one person said: “A proper all out strike for a month would have sent a message that could not have been ignored.”

This demonstrates that some clueless people (who don’t know the EPO’s new rules) are eager to just blame the victims. If the staff strikes without permission — as ludicrous as the notion of permission may be in this context — Team Battistelli will replace staff with Google algorithms (this is already done to a degree, limiting their role in decision-making and assessment of prior art). It would further damage patent quality and thus penalise European businesses.

The person in question (maybe just blissfully naïve) said:

EPO staff have nobody to blame but themselves.

A proper all out strike for a month would have sent a message that could not have been ignored.

If people are not prepared to show solidarity and fight for their rights then there is no point whingeing when they are taken away from you.

“I would think twice before blaming the examiners” at the EPO, said a person in response to this. They’re the victim. They are well paid, but they are suffering. The reply to the above went as follows:

Wow. That’s pretty harsh. Whilst I too have never been in the employ of the European Patent Organisation, I would think twice before blaming the examiners in the way that you have done.

You do realise that BB has imposed serious restrictions upon the ability of EPO employees to strike, don’t you? So, in effect, he has taken away the very weapon that you condemn the EPO examiners for not deploying.

And as for fighting for their rights, do you not count taking court cases as far as possible in both Germany and the Netherlands? And what about making repeated pleas to the members of the AC?

Frankly, I think that you should walk a mile or two in the shoes of the examiners… deprived of rights enshrined in European law, badly let down by the “supervisory” bodies (the AC, ILOAT and the national courts) that should be there to protect you, invisible to the majority of the general public, ignored by most mainstream media and politicians, the subject of increasingly draconian rules imposed by EPO management, etc., etc. I would like to see how you coped with all of that!

About time you had treatment for your hypoempathy disorder, methinks.

If they ever go beyond the rules, they will get sacked. Battistelli is merciless and he makes “examples” out of people, even innocent people. Yet the same person persists with the idea of civil disobedience on Battistelli’s ‘production line’, where no anonymity is possible:

Not true.

BB certainly imposed some restrictions on striking but he did not prevent a strike being called if the staff really wanted it. There just has to be a strike ballot and the will to follow through.

Instead of striking, the staff has basically capitulated and even went so far as to churn out a 40% production increase.

While you are at it maybe you should ask the Appeal Boards what happened to their interview with an IP journal and why they voluntarily consented to be censored by BB?

Unless you can explain that one I don’t intend to go for any hypoempathy disorder treatment any time soon.

Someone clarified the rules even further:

Would that it were so simple.
“The President of the Office may lay down further terms and conditions for the application of this Article to all employees; these shall cover inter alia the maximum strike duration and the voting process”

http://ipkitten.blogspot.co.uk/2014/04/the-epo-rules-on-strikes-revealed-to.html

Indeed, BB is not afraid of “outlawing” strikes for which the staff have voted (in spite the draconian rules).

http://www.worldipreview.com/news/anger-as-epo-president-rejects-latest-strike-6767

Looks like you will have to start that treatment after all…

You will also have to explain what you mean about the Boards of Appeal. The structure of the EPO means that issues with DG3 are different to those with DG1. So I am not quite sure what the relevance of DG3′s actions would be to the situation in DG1. Do let me know if I’m missing something, though.

The very notion of a boss rejecting a call for a strike is utterly ludicrous. Therein lies a key issue, yet some people insist that unless EPO workers resign or engage in “illegal” strikes which would cause dismissal, they are part of the problem.

Even the EPO’s Administrative Council No Longer Trusts Its Chairman, Battistelli’s ‘Chinchilla’ Jesper Kongstad

Posted in Europe, Patents at 5:15 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Terms such as “Team Chinchilla” perhaps wrongly assume that the Council still tolerates Kongstad (who kills chinchillas for profit, as his wife demonstrates below)

LANDBRUG photo

Summary: Kongstad’s protection of Battistelli, whom he is supposed to oversee, stretches to the point where national representatives (delegates) are being misinformed

OVER the years, many letters to Jesper Kongstad fell on deaf ears. We have been covering such examples since 2014. The EPO seems to be managed by problematic people at two levels: the Office and the Organisation (or Council). This became apparent again earlier this month when Kongstad protected Battistelli from the Council rather than protect the Council from Battistelli. He got it all backwards, so both EPOs — both the Office and the Organisation — are unofficially defunct.

Not too long ago we saw our analysis cited in IP Kat comments (now that it no longer covers the subject). One comment said:

Protest in front of the main building in Munich.

http://techrights.org/2017/03/14/epo-letter-to-heads-of-delegations/

And in another thread:

EPO Protest Tomorrow, Heads of Delegations Informed Regarding the Reasons

See Techrights : http://techrights.org/2017/03/14/epo-letter-to-heads-of-delegations/

The delegates have been trying to do the right thing. Some of them, especially of the larger nations, want Battistelli ousted. But it recently came to our attention that Kongstad keeps them too in the dark. Maybe it’s time for delegates to oust Kongstad. He is part of the problem and an impediment to any solution.

“The delegates have been trying to do the right thing. Some of them, especially of the larger nations, want Battistelli ousted.”According to reliable information that we received, last year there were attempts to submit a complaint for corporate harassment to the Administrative Council (AC), “to be delivered via Kongstad.” One EPO veteran said that this would help bypass the “hopelessly longer route of an internal appeal, yet there is no guarantee of a positive decision.”

We already wrote about the ILO blasting this process. “They most probably won’t answer at all,” a source told us at the time. “But now,” we learned, “issues like this start to pile up on the AC’s table and the embarrassment becomes harder to hide.”

One person, we’re told, “was clever enough to send a complaint to Kongstad expecting he would bury it in his papers. He did. And when the issue [ultimately] burst out, the AC pulled an ear to Kongstad, asking why they hadn’t be informed. Well done.”

“Maybe it’s time for delegates to oust Kongstad.”So, put in simple terms, Kongstad is keeping delegates in the dark at Battistelli’s behest. Is that the form of behaviour which one can expect from a ‘supervisor’ of Battistelli?

For those who think that the Kongstads have withdrawn their cruel business since the negative publicity began, think again. They’re still active almost every day, posting stuff like the below (lots of dead animals, turned into ornaments in a factory-like fashion). We’re a little surprised that this is considered permissible by Facebook’s terms of service.

Kongstad Chinchilla

Thanks to Merpel, the World Knows EPO Scandals a Lot Better, But It’s a Shame That IP Kat Helped UPC

Posted in Europe, Patents at 4:14 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Also see: IP Kat is Lobbying Heavily for the UPC, Courtesy of Team UPC (competing interests in the same blog)

Bristows LLP and EPO

Summary: A look back at Merpel’s final post about EPO scandals and the looming threat of the UPC, which UPC opportunists such as Bristows LLP still try hard to make a reality, exploiting bogus (hastily-granted) patents for endless litigation all around Europe

Right now, with UPC lobbying in full force (just three days left before Article 50 invocation), some IP Kat circles like Bristows LLP/Bristows UPC (using the blog for lobbying) could probably use Battistelli’s EPO as an ally. Merpel never publicly acknowledged the EPO’s sanctions (blog banned), further actions, or hints thereof as playing a role in self-censorship about EPO scandals. Truth be told, it’s like an NDA scenario; I should know as the EPO tried to gag me about threats that it had sent me. It’s a classic modus operandi and SLAPP-happy lawyers use that sparingly. Shiva Ayyadurai and his lawyer (who attacks the media on behalf of Melania Trump) did this to me earlier this year.

We are gratified for the time Merpel spent shedding light on the EPO. We use a lot of her revelations to this day. In fact, to date, some information that’s in the public domain is a Merpel “exclusive”. That information is still publicly accessible, so the EPO never successfully deleted history. It’s all documented online.

Now that the Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation sounds like its master's voice (Battistelli) action is urgently needed. After the Dutch election (earlier this month) allies of EPO staff are even fewer. The EPO conflict persists and the issue is anything but resolved, or even near a solution. Merpel is unlikely to change her mind, even if she ever publicly acknowledged that her assumption was wrong (about things improving or reaching a breaking point). “‘Public’ institution threatens non-profit blog that informs the public, blog gives up,” I told her earlier this month, adding, “please don’t give up fighting for justice, for staff and parties affected (all of Europe).”

It certainly feels like IP Kat actually did want to write about EPO scandals, but someone in the blog capitulated to the bullies. Techrights will carry on of course, and The Register too does a good job covering these scandals. This already tarnishes the image of EPO management and politicians cite these articles in support of their motions (recently in Dutch Parliament for instance). It seems like too few people are both capable (have the background knowledge) and willing to expose and tackle EPO abuses. We hope IP Kat will rethink its self-censorship on the matter, but we can’t be optimistic about it. We’ll just assume that no matter the persistence and persuasion from readers, Merpel has already made up her mind. She did not respond to any of the comments urging her to carry on.

“Keep going,” one person wrote, “don’t stop! He will have his Waterloo soon…surely, please God!” (“From: a “customer” of the EPO, that like quality “products”…even if they to wait a little while to get them”).

We need to keep fighting not just for EPO workers but for Europe in general. A lot is at stake here. As the following comment put it: “No strikes anymore, no resistance, nothing. Good bye, EPO!”

Unless something is done to redeem the EPO, the whole institution will be destroyed. Here is the comment in full:

Thank you for your regular reports in the past. It appears that also applicants lost their interest in the EPO. Why should we pay enormous fees for fake quality? I feel sorry for the examiners, but they are digging their own graves by solely looking at production figures in order to get more money. No strikes anymore, no resistance, nothing. Good bye, EPO!

Someone then responds with claims that the “unfortunate reality is that highly qualified, highly intelligent examiners are viewed as mindless drones” under Battistelli. Therein lies one of the core causes of brain drain. Here is the full comment:

We EPO Examiners are not “solely looking at production figures in order to get more money” as you put it. We are doing our best to perform our job as it supposed to be done, in an increasingly hostile environment, whilst trying to keep our jobs; no more, no less. More money does not come into it, and never has.

Don’t forget, examiners are all either scientists or engineers; once you have done our job for more than a few years, it is hard to change jobs, and is especially hard to do if you have a family. The unfortunate reality is that highly qualified, highly intelligent examiners are viewed as mindless drones by EPO higher management, and are treated as such…

The next comment speaks of “dubious (AC / EPO management) practices that are a serious threat to the reputation of all of us who work in the patent microcosm.”

Yes, the term “patent microcosm” was used and they too worry about what Battistelli has done. To quote:

Merpel – many thanks for covering the EPO up to now. The information, insights and commentary that you have provided have been invaluable in shedding light on dubious (AC / EPO management) practices that are a serious threat to the reputation of all of us who work in the patent microcosm.

I do hope that you will be able to pass the baton over to another member of the IPKat family. With the reputation of the EPO now in tatters, it would be a shame if the IP world lost an important source of information that helps it to critically assess the picture painted by the management of the EPO.

“EPOmustGO,” said an anonymous comment. “Replacing the president won’t change anything in its democratic deficiency,” the person added. Actually, while the EPO was never a paradise, it wasn’t ever this horrific. Insiders say that even several years ago things were more or less acceptable.

A more courteous comment said this to Merpel at al:

Guys be proud of the work you did for the benefit of the IP community since the dysfunctionings of the EPO impact the IP community obvsiouly.

Your posts will be missed but hey that’s life.

All the best to you and thanks for work done.

“Now EPO has decided to PACE everything,” the next comment from “Observer” said, “but without listening to its users and exclusively pleasing its shareholders.”

There is also something inherently discriminatory about PACE. It reveals the favouritism. Here is the comment in full:

Warm thanks to Merpel for what she did, but I am sad to see her resign.

I hope that Merpel’s renouncement has not been provoked by threats uttered against her.

It is a pity that a voice like Merpel goes out. In the end, the president of the EPO will be grinning: another one I manage to shut down…..

That things should change at EPO which had entered a certain trot is not to be denied. But did it have to be done with an ax? There is a difference between what is legal and what is moral; what was done looks legal but is certainly not moral.

It is sad to see that how an office which was thriving and having an excellent reputation is driven in the wall by would be managers.

Under other skies it is called shareholder value. Here the shareholders will be happy that they can cash in annual fees much earlier, so that disapproval by the AC is probably not on the table.

I wonder whether this frenzy of quick granting of cases is really in the interest of the applicants at large. I have always heard that it becomes expensive once the patent is granted, and the numerous publications about PACE, i.e. acceleration of search and examination, in old editions of the OJ have never been followed by increasing numbers of such requests. There were certainly good reasons for not following this invitation, unless absolute necessity. Now EPO has decided to PACE everything, but without listening to its users and exclusively pleasing its shareholders.

In the end, one cannot suppress the feeling that what is going on at the EPO is to quickly obtain patents, which are worth what they are, so that litigation can start at the UPC. This would be to the profit of certain applicants, I do not count SMEs under those, supported by certain law firms who have been very active and keen to push the UPC through.

This also touches upon the boards of appeal and the way they have been treated. Why do we need them, if we have the UPC? The less case law the boards of appeal produce, the less chances there are of colliding jurisprudence.

I do not want to see it all as a plot. However, I cannot help but ask questions.

Mind the part about the UPC: “In the end, one cannot suppress the feeling that what is going on at the EPO is to quickly obtain patents, which are worth what they are, so that litigation can start at the UPC. This would be to the profit of certain applicants, I do not count SMEs under those, supported by certain law firms who have been very active and keen to push the UPC through.”

That’s a toxic combination of low quality patents and easy, far-reaching litigation and injunctions. We’ve braced for a disaster, but right now it seems likely that we’ll just say “UPC is dead, long live the next UPC attempt” (maybe later this week). What about all these falsely-advertised UPC jobs that never existed and probably will never exist?

EPO Critics Threatened by Self-Censorship, Comment Censorship, and a Growing Threat to Anonymity

Posted in Europe, Google, Patents at 3:21 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Police get warrant for entire Minnesota city’s Google searches in wire fraud case
Reference: Police get warrant for entire Minnesota city’s Google searches in wire fraud case

Summary: Putting in perspective the campaign for justice at the EPO, which to a large degree relies on whistleblowers and thus depends a great deal on freedom of the press, freedom of speech, and anonymity

WHEN we started covering the social conflict at the EPO (we had already written about the EPO, but different aspects of it, typically but not always software patents in Europe), Merpel had beaten us to it. Merpel started writing about it in early 2014 if not 2013; we only started studying the conflict in early 2014 and published nothing about it until the summer of that year. Prior to that we had written a lot about software patents at the USPTO; remember that this was almost exactly the same time as Alice (summer of 2014), wherein the US Supreme Court ruled against software patents — in retrospect a truly historic decision with profound implications (more so than In Re Bilski).

“In the interim, truth itself got compromised, human rights got abolished, and the workplace atmosphere darkened.”I’ve written about software patents since my teenage years or early twenties (at different capacities), so the subject isn’t new to me. It’s a very important subject, particularly so as more and more things get implemented in software over time. The issues associated with overpatenting visibly irritated EPO staff too. About a decade ago we wrote about and posted many photographs from an EPO walkout. Things got a lot more serious in recent years, as management chose to start a campaign of oppression rather than a process of reconciliation. In the interim, truth itself got compromised, human rights got abolished, and the workplace atmosphere darkened.

IP Kat, to its credit, especially Merpel and Jeremy, wrote about the conflict. But some people chose to move on, possibly at the worst time. “Don’t stop covering the EPO,” one person wrote the other day. “Everything changes, so does the IPKat. Don’t change too much please. It would be good if you could keep some of the charm this blog used to have in abundance under Jeremy, Johanna, Illana, Brigit [sic], David.”

“Jeremy,” another person wrote, “Jeremy! Wherefore art thou Jeremy? Missing you…”

“Many ‘free’ (public) hotspots engage in DPI and try hard to decipher one’s identity, then put the data up for sale.”Well, he retired after he had made a real difference in EPO matters. Since then it has felt like free speech suffered a bit. “I wonder why my comment was deleted,” a person said a couple of days ago, “my question is genuine: what is the point of this post?”

IP Kat censorship has become a real issue that we’ve composed several articles about as some of our readers had their comments deleted. I too had my few comments there deleted. I know the feeling and I know it’s not due to obscenities. And yet, when the EPO censored IP Kat I stood up for them. Now, a year later, rather than the EPO censoring IP Kat it’s IP Kat self-censoring, i.e. not covering EPO scandals anymore.

“The price good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men,” Plato said. It seems apt now.

“For some people, this could potentially be threatening to their career (if Google, which is close to the EPO, was ever to drop a hint to Team Battistelli).”“…a thousand quarrels arise and numberless insults of offensive words could be heard across the IP world,” said this person over the weekend (responses to that were posted last night), but many of these insults are heard offline, not online. When asked about it confidentially, it’s clear how stakeholders feel about the EPO.

Thankfully, quite a few insiders and stakeholders have, over the years, left anonymous comments in IP Kat, which at one point added a restriction by insisting that people at least use a pseudonym (that was about 2 years ago). Such pseudonyms only represent growing danger as they enable correlation between disparate comments, potentially posted from different locations (e.g. one from home and another from a public hotspot somewhere). We have all along warned that Google (which owns and operates Blogspot) cannot be trusted for anonymity and we cited court cases to that effect. Things escalated even further in recent weeks (earlier this month) as Google’s practice of activity/log retention is clearly becoming a liability to users. One journalist asked me about it the other day, knowing that I’ve covered privacy for a number of years. It’s worth quoting just so that readers are aware of the pitfalls of Google for anonymity:

Dear Dr. Roy Schestowitz,
I was forwarded your contact information by █████. My name is ████ Walsh and I write for ████ about digital privacy and > cybersecurity issues. I am currently writing a story about Edina Police in Minnesota being granted a warrant to collect every person’s data that searched for a specific name on Google during a 5 week period. The police believe that someone from the area searched for the victim’s photo on Google to create a fake passport.

The implications for digital privacy are obviously huge, as this could set quite a nasty precedent. The warrant is far too broad and if this type of procedure became the norm it is a slippery slope toward blanket search engine surveillance. The good news is that Google does intend (apparently) to fight the warrant. Any quote on the subject from yourself (plus how you would like me to refer to you in the article) would be a valuable addition to the article. Thanks.

My response was this: “The core of the problem is that Google logs and maintains (in the long run) logs of people who search, what they search for, and even compiles this information (for purposes of advertising or customised results) in a fashion that facilitates such warrants. No search engine ought to collect this much information. People who choose to use search engines that do put themselves at risk of wrongful accusations, i.e. a potential legal Hell even if they are entirely innocent. Society which is based on the principles of privacy is required for free inquiry, be it about a particular topic, a person, and a lot more.”

This is true also for comments, not just search. It is likely that Google has the real identity of each anonymous commenter who ever left a comment at IP Kat (based on browser cookies/MAC address/DPI and so on). Many ‘free’ (public) hotspots engage in DPI and try hard to decipher one’s identity, then put the data up for sale. For some people, this could potentially be threatening to their career (if Google, which is close to the EPO, was ever to drop a hint to Team Battistelli). Such leads needn’t be traceable back to Google if Parallel Construction tricks were implemented. We already know, based on one EPO dismissal (Els Hardon), that EPO investigators managed to intrude Google’s GMail. Whether that was owing to hidden cameras, screenshots, keylogging, DPI or even a tip from Google (or spying agencies that intercept Google traffic and are connected to Control Risks) we don’t know. Whatever the case may be, never trust anything from Google to preserve anonymity or even offer true anonymity in the first place (incompatible with Google’s business model).

Google Translate
Older: Why Anonymous Dissent Against EPO on Google Platforms May be Risky

03.25.17

Links 25/3/2017: Maru OS 0.4, C++17 Complete

Posted in News Roundup at 6:00 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Communities of Communities: The Next Era of Open Source Software

    We are now about 20 years into the open source software era. You might think that open source simply means publishing the source code for something useful. While this is correct by definition, the most important component of any open source project is its community and how it works together.

    Open source projects are not isolated islands. In fact, it’s common for them to depend on each other. As new projects are created, it is also common that members come from related projects to work on something new. Apache Arrow is an example of a new project that worked across many related projects, creating a new community that from the beginning knew it needed to build a community of communities.

  • 9 Open Source Storage Solutions: A Perfect Solution To Store Your Precious Data

    Whatever business nature you have, there must be some precious data which you want to store in a secured place. Finding a right storage solution is always critical for business, especially for small and medium, but what if you get a perfect solution at no cost.

    There is no doubt that business cant runs without data, but while looking for a solution, you might need to spend a fortune to cover all your storage requirements. Open source tools come as the viable solution where you won’t spend money yet get a suitable solution to store your precious data. And don’t worry we will help you to find one of the best.

  • 15 Open Source Solutions To Setup Your Ecommerce Business

    In the past few years, there is a rapid growth in the online sales. According to a survey, more than 40% people are now shifted to online stores and majorly buying products from their smartphones and tablets.

    With the expeditious rise in the online marketplace, more business introducing online stores. For the big fishes in the industry, the expenses of setting up an online store is like spending peanuts, but for the small or startups, it appears to be a fortune.

    The smart move could be open source platforms, to begin with as they are not only free also reliable and scalable. One can set up the online store not only quickly as well as, in future if you want to add some of the functionalities, which are available with only premium, can be done by paying quite a small amount.

  • An Industry First: Teradata Debuts Open Source Kylo to Quickly Build, Manage Data Pipelines
  • Why You Should Consider Open Sourcing Your Software

    Free & Open source software have grown so rapidly in the last few years. Just compare the situation of being ignored and considered like a nerds-movement in the early 2000’s to the situation today in 2017. We surly made a huge advancement so far. Thanks to the amazing ecosystem of open source which links both communities and enterprises together.

    However, when it comes to individuals, a lot of people are hesitant when it comes to open-sourcing their software. They think that the “secret” behind it will be stolen. They think that they will be releasing their work “for nothing in return” when they do so. That’s definitely false.

  • Events

    • Speaking at FOSSASIA’17 | Seasons of Debian : Summer of Code & Winter of Outreachy

      I got an amazing chance to speak at FOSSASIA 2017 held at Singapore on “Seasons of Debian – Summer of Code and Winter of Outreachy“. I gave a combined talk with my co-speaker Pranav Jain, who contributed to Debian through GSoC. We talked about two major open source initiatives – Outreachy and Google Summer of Code and the work we did on a common project – Lumicall under Debian.

    • Notes from Linaro Connect

      The first of two 2017 Linaro Connect events was held March 6 to 10 in Budapest, Hungary; your editor had the privilege of attending. Reports from a number of the sessions there have appeared in separate articles. There were a number of discussions at the event that, while not being enough to fill an article on their own, were nevertheless worthy of some attention.

      Connect is an interesting event, in that it is a combination of an architecture-specific kernel developers’ gathering and a members-only meeting session. Not being a member, your editor only participated in the former aspect. Sessions at Connect are usually short — 25 minutes — and focused on a specific topic; they also routinely run over their allotted time. There is an emphasis on discussion, especially in the relatively unstructured “hack sessions” that occupy much of the schedule. Many of the sessions are focused on training: how to upstream code, for example, or kernel debugging stories in Mandarin (video).

    • Your guide to LibrePlanet 2017, wherever you are, March 25-26

      The free software community encompasses the globe, and we strive to make the LibrePlanet conference reflect that. That’s why we livestream the proceedings of the conference, and encourage you to participate remotely by both watching and participating in the discussion via IRC chat.

      If you are planning to attend LibrePlanet in Cambridge, we encourage you to register in advance through Tuesday morning at 10:00 EST (14:00 UTC) — advance registration helps us plan a better event. Walk ups are also welcome. Students and FSF members receive gratis admission.

    • IBM Interconnect 2017 first day keynote recap
    • Community Leadership Summit 2017: 6th – 7th May in Austin

      Secondly, the bulk of the event is an unconference where the attendees volunteer session ideas and run them. Each session is a discussion where the topic is discussed, debated, and we reach final conclusions. This results in a hugely diverse range of sessions covering topics such as event management, outreach, social media, governance, collaboration, diversity, building contributor programs, and more. These discussions are incredible for exploring and learning new ideas, meeting interesting people, building a network, and developing friendships.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • MUA++ (or on to thunderbird)
      • Caspia Projects and Thunderbird – Open Source In Absentia

        What does this have to do with Thunderbird? I sat in a room a few weeks ago with 10 guys at Clallam Bay, all who have been in a full-time, intensive software training program for about a year, who are really interested in trying to do real-world projects rather than simply hidden internal projects that are classroom assignments, or personal projects with no public outlet. I start in April spending two days per week with these guys. Then there are another 10 or so guys at WSR in Monroe that started last month, though the situation there is more complex. The situation is similar to other groups of students that might be able to work on Thunderbird or Mozilla projects, with these differences:1) Student or GSOC projects tend to have a duration of a few months, while the expected commitment time for this group is much longer.

  • BSD

    • Make Dragonfly BSD great again!

      Recently I spent some time reading Dragonfly BSD code. While doing so I spotted a vulnerability in the sysvsem subsystem that let user to point to any piece of memory and write data through it (including the kernel space). This can be turned into execution of arbitrary code in the kernel context and by exploiting this, we’re gonna make Dragonfly BSD great again!

  • Licensing/Legal

    • OpenSSL Re-Licensing to Apache License v. 2.0

      The OpenSSL project, home of the world’s most popular SSL/TLS and cryptographic toolkit, is changing its license to the Apache License v2.0 (ASL v2). As part of this effort, the OpenSSL team launched a new website and has been working with various corporate collaborators to facilitate the re-licensing process.

  • Programming/Development

Leftovers

  • We need a software revolution for the greater social good

    Five years ago, tech entrepreneur and venture capitalist Marc Andreessen famously wrote, “Software is eating the world.” It’s hard to think of more prophetic words coming out of Silicon Valley, and new players that have software at their core continue to reinvent entire industries. Uber disrupting the taxi industry and Airbnb the hospitality industry are just two examples.

  • FedEx Caught Off-Guard By Browsers Blocking Flash, Will Give Customers $5 To Enable It

    FedEx will give customers that use the Chrome 56 and Safari 10 browsers or newer a $5 discount once they enable the Flash plugin. The offer comes after both Chrome and Safari have started blocking Flash content by default in the past few months.

  • Science

    • Robots are stronger, faster, more durable… and hackable

      We hear a lot about robots getting smarter as the AI juggernaut rolls on, but less about significant gains in strength and durability thanks to better electric motors and batteries.

      That growing physical prowess raises risks to people near them should something go wrong, which means it is more vital than ever that these devices, set to share our living and working spaces, remain entirely under our control.

  • Hardware

    • Five reasons why I’m excited about POWER9

      There’s plenty to like about the POWER8 architecture: high speed interconnections, large (and flexible) core counts, and support for lots of memory. POWER9 provides improvements in all of these areas and it has learned some entirely new tricks as well.

  • Security

    • Google Threatens to Distrust Symantec SSL/TLS Certificates

      Google is warning that it intends to deprecate and remove trust in Symantec-issued SSL/TLS certificates, as Symantec shoots back that the move is unwarranted.

    • Hackers Stole My Website…And I Pulled Off A $30,000 Sting Operation To Get It Back

      I learned that my site was stolen on a Saturday. Three days later I had it back, but only after the involvement of fifty or so employees of six different companies, middle-of-the-night conferences with lawyers, FBI intervention, and what amounted to a sting operation that probably should have starred Sandra Bullock instead of…well…me.

    • Google Summer of Code

      The Linux Foundation umbrella organization is responsible for this year’s WireGuard GSoC, so if you’re a student, write “Linux Foundation” as your mentoring organization, and then specify in your proposal your desire to work with WireGuard, listing “Jason Donenfeld” as your mentor.

    • Takeaways from Bruce Schneier’s talk: “Security and Privacy in a Hyper-connected World”

      Bruce Schneier is one of my favorite speakers when it comes to the topic of all things security. His talk from IBM Interconnect 2017, “Security and Privacy in a Hyper-connected World“, covered a wide range of security concerns.

    • [Older] Make America Secure Again: Trump Should Order U.S. Spy Agencies to Responsibly Disclose Cyber Vulnerabilities

      Last week, WikiLeaks released a trove of CIA documents that detail many of the spy agency’s hacking capabilities. These documents, if genuine (and early reports suggest that they are), validate concerns that U.S. spy agencies are stockpiling cybersecurity vulnerabilities. The intelligence community uses undisclosed vulnerabilities to develop tools that can penetrate the computer systems and networks of its foreign targets. Unfortunately, since everyone uses the same technology in today’s global economy, each of these vulnerabilities also represents a threat to American businesses and individuals. In the future, rather than hoard this information, the CIA and other intelligence agencies should commit to responsibly disclosing vulnerabilities it discovers to the private sector so that security holes can be patched.

    • Announcing Keyholder: Secure, shared shell access

      The new software is a ssh-agent proxy that allows a group of trusted users to share an SSH identity without exposing the contents of that identity’s private key.

      [...]

      A common use of the ssh-agent is to “forward” your agent to a remote machine (using the -A flag in the OpenSSH client). After you’ve forwarded your ssh-agent, you can use the socket that that agent creates to access any of your many (now unencrypted) keys, and login to any other machines for which you may have keys in your ssh-agent. So, too, potentially, can all the other folks that have root access to the machine to which you’ve forwarded your ssh-agent.

    • pitchfork

      After years of training journalists and NGOs communication and operational security, after years of conducting research into the tools and protocols used, it took some more years developing a reasonable answer to most of the issues encountered during all this time.

      In todays world of commercially available government malware you don’t want to store your encryption keys on your easily infected computer. You want them stored on something that you could even take into a sauna or a hot-tub – maintaining continuous physical contact.

      So people who care about such things use external smartcard-based crypto devices like Ubikey Neos or Nitrokeys (formerly Cryptosticks). The problems with these devices is that you have to enter PIN codes on your computer that you shouldn’t trust, that they are either designed for centralized use in organizations, or they are based mostly on PGP.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Lawsuits blaming Saudi Arabia for 9/11 get new life

      Sovereign immunity usually protects governments from lawsuits, but the bill creates an exception that lets litigants hold foreign governments responsible if they support a terrorist attack that kills U.S. citizens on American soil.

    • Westminster killer left jail a Muslim – childhood friend [iophk: “UK jails are incubators for Islam”
    • Cornerstone of Afghan Reconstruction Effort — Roads — is Near-Total Failure

      One of the planned cornerstones of the 15+ year Afghan Reconstruction Effort was to be an extensive, nationwide network of roads.

      The United States’ concept was roads would allow the Afghan economy to flourish as trade could reach throughout the country, security would be enhanced by the ability to move security forces quickly to where they were needed, and that the presence of the roads would serve as a literal symbol of the central government’s ability to extend its presence into the countryside.

    • Right-Wing Foundation, Scary Nuke Maps Drive Narrative on North Korea ‘Threat’

      Tensions between the United States and North Korea are making their way back into the news after a series of missile tests and presidential Twitter threats. Meanwhile, a conservative think tank—previously thought all but dead—has seen a resurgence in relevancy, thanks to its alignment with Donald Trump. The result is that the Heritage Foundation has provided much of the narrative backbone for North Korean/US relations in the age of Trump, making the rounds in dozens of media articles and television appearances.

      Heritage talking heads have been featured in North Korea stories in the Washington Post (2/28/27, 3/19/17), New York Times (3/16/17), AP (3/19/17), Christian Science Monitor (3/17/17), Boston Herald (3/9/17), BBC (3/17/17), Fox News (3/10/17), CNN (3/15/17), MSNBC (3/19/17), CNBC (3/7/17), Voice of America (2/24/17) and Vox (3/17/17).

      The most prominent of Heritage’s experts is former CIA analyst Bruce Klingner, who plays the part of the Reasonable Hawk, insisting North Korea is “growing [its] nuclear and missile capabilities” and is an “existential threat to South Korea and Japan and will soon be a direct threat to the continental United States,” but opposes preemptive bombing or invasion until the threat is “imminent”—a term he never quite defines (but one, it’s worth noting, the current Secretary of State uses to describe the situation.)

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • INTERNATIONAL JOURNALISM PRIZE AWARDED BY MEXICO FOR JULIAN ASSANGE INTERVIEW

      John Pilger has been awarded the International Journalism Prize by the Press Club of Mexico in the XLIV National and International Competition of Journalism, founded in 1951 by Antonio Saenz de Miera. The citation reads, “The exclusive interview with WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, through which international public opinion was able to ascertain the extent of the key issues of the current political situation [is] journalism that allows people to defend themselves against powerful, clandestine forces.”

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Earth’s worst-ever mass extinction of life holds ‘apocalyptic’ warning about climate change, say scientists

      According to a paper published in the journal Palaeoworld, volcanic eruptions pumped large amounts of carbon dioxide into the air, causing average temperatures to rise by eight to 11°C.

      This melted vast amounts of methane that had been trapped in the permafrost and sea floor, causing temperatures to soar even further to levels “lethal to most life on land and in the oceans”.

    • TransCanada Drops Keystone XL NAFTA Lawsuit One Hour After Trump Approves Pipeline Project

      [...] Donald Trump reversed the Obama Administration’s rejection of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, and within the hour, TransCanada, the company behind the massive pipeline project, announced it will drop its $15 billion North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) complaint against the U.S. over the project’s rejection.

      [...]

      TransCanada dropped this NAFTA lawsuit only after Donald Trump caved on his demand that Keystone XL will be built with American steel.

  • Finance

    • Singapore will ratify Trans-Pacific Partnership: PM Lee [iophk: “stupid and dangerous for all”

      Singapore will push forward with ratification of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Friday (24 March), at the end of a four-day official visit to Vietnam.

    • Pay crash expected in online gig economy as millions seek work

      The report argues that because only a handful of countries are responsible for the demand in digital work, concentrated mostly in North America and western Europe, it should be these countries that enforce a minimum standard. That way, workers would have their rights protected regardless of their location.

    • Guy Who Wants Everyone To Believe He Created Bitcoin, Now Patenting Everything Bitcoin With An Online Gambling Fugitive

      As you may recall, there was a giant fuss last year, when an Australian guy named Craig Wright not only claimed that he was “Satoshi Nakamoto” — the pseudonymous creator of Bitcoin — but had convined key Bitcoin developer Gavin Andresen that he was Nakomoto. That was a big deal because Andresen was one of the first developers on Bitcoin and regularly corresponded with Nakamoto (Andresen’s own name sometimes popped up in rumors about who Nakamoto might be). Even with Andresen being convinced, plenty of others soon picked apart the claims and found the claims severely lacking in proof.

      Then, last summer, Andrew O’Hagan published an absolutely massive profile of Wright that only served to raise a lot more questions about Wright, his businesses, his claims to having created Bitcoin, and a variety of other things. However, as we noted at the time, buried in that massive article was a bizarre tidbit about how Wright was actively trying to patent a ton of Bitcoin related ideas. As we noted, the article stated that Wright’s plan was to patent tons of Bitcoin stuff, reveal himself as Nakamoto and then sell his patents for a billion dollars.

    • Ukip’s only MP Douglas Carswell quits party

      Ukip’s only member of parliament, Douglas Carswell, has quit the party to become an independent MP, prompting a backlash from within Ukip and among its supporters.

      Carswell, who defected from the Conservative party to Ukip in August 2014, said he was leaving “amicably, cheerfully and in the knowledge that we won”.

      He said he would not be standing down before the next general election, and claimed there was no need for a byelection because he was not joining another party. Ukip, he added, had achieved its founding aims with the vote to leave the EU. “After 24 years, we have done it. Brexit is in good hands,” he said.

    • Tens of thousands march against Brexit

      Unite for Europe campaigners marched through central London to Westminster, the scene of floral tributes to those killed and injured in Wednesday’s atrocity.

      Opening the event, Alastair Campbell said: “Before we talk about Brexit, before we call on any of the speakers, we need to recognise that something really bad happened not far from here just the other day.”

      Campaigners stood with their heads bowed for a minute-long silence on Saturday, with the only sound the chiming of Big Ben.

    • Brexit talks will fail without compromise: José Manuel Barroso

      Brexit negotiations are on course to fail unless both Britain and the European Union ditch their winner-takes-all approach to the coming talks, the former president of the European commission José Manuel Barroso has said.

      With just days to go before Theresa May formally notifies Brussels of the UK’s intention to leave the EU, Jean-Claude Juncker’s predecessor said the two sides were playing a dangerous game.

      The UK’s prime minister has said she believes “no deal is better than a bad deal”, and some in her cabinet have openly talked up the prospect of walking away from the negotiating table.

      Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, has placed the settlement of Britain’s £50bn in financial liabilities as the prerequisite for any progress. Last week the French former minister conjured up a vision of queues of Dover, nuclear fuel shortages and chaos for citizens as a consequence of Britain’s failure to live up to its responsibility.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Trump: Liar, Loser, Not A Leader

      The debacle of Trump and Ryan being unable to pass their “sicknesscare” bill through a Congress that the GOP controls is diagnostic.

    • Michael Moore warns Dems: Now is not the time to gloat

      “This is not the time for the Democrats to gloat,” Moore said. “This is the time we have to now double down. [...]”

    • The Political Economy of ‘Moral Authority’

      The implication of this phrase, of course, is that the United States derives its greatness from a presumed moral authority. Corporate media are now sounding the alarm that the US’s moral authority is suddenly under attack by the Trump administration.

    • Black Man Stabbed to Death by White Supremacist–Then Smeared by Media

      According to police, white 28-year-old Maryland man James Harris Jackson took a Bolt bus up to New York City Friday for the express purposes of killing black men and did just that, stabbing 66-year-old Timothy Caughman in Hell’s Kitchen Monday night. Police say the suspect, an ex-military member of a white supremacist hate group, asked police to arrest him, warning he would attack again if they didn’t.

    • Dan Goldberg on Neil Gorsuch, Marianne Lavelle on Climate Change Denial

      This week on CounterSpin: When Neil Gorsuch’s name was first announced as a candidate for the Supreme Court, corporate media’s focus was on his “eloquence” and “intelligence.” The Washington Post published 30 articles, op-eds, blog posts and editorials in the 48 hours after the announcement—not a single one overtly critical or in opposition to his nomination. That changed somewhat when Gorsuch actually faced questions, but have we learned enough about the record and the ideas of the man who may get one of the most powerful jobs in the country? We’ll talk about Gorsuch with Dan Goldberg from Alliance for Justice.

    • Trump advisor Steve Bannon ordered conservative Republicans to vote for Trumpcare and they just laughed at him

      The general consensus seems to be that the failure to replace Obamacare is unexpectedly bad for both president and GOP: he’s exposed as a crêpe leopard, and them as a bunch of unprincipled bickering morons with nothing to show for 7 years’ empty ranting about Obamacare.

    • Advice for Trump: It’s All About the Infrastructure
    • You Can Be a Journalist, Too, Just Calling Names Like 7th Graders

      The New York Times employs a columnist named Charles Blow (above). Blow writes the same column twice a week, about 800 words of simple name calling directed at Trump. That’s what his job is. He gets paid a lot of money for something that must take him about 15 minutes to type up. It is an amazing world we’ve entered since November.

      [...]

      He continues to have explosive Twitter episodes — presumably in response to some news he finds unflattering or some conspiracy floated by fringe outlets — that make him look not only foolish, but unhinged.

      Trump’s assaults on the truth are not benign. Presidential credibility is American credibility. There is no way to burn through one without burning through the other.

      And when he’s not making explosive charges, he’s taking destructive actions.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Data Privacy: 7 Trackers Collecting Your Personal Data

      Whether we think about it or not, there’s an agreement at work behind the scenes when you visit some websites and use many popular apps. Call it the price of “free.” For every website visit and app use, you agree to give up certain personal data in exchange for whatever information or service you’re using.

      The problem isn’t only that these activities are taking place, it’s that many apps or services are lax in clearly disclosing that they’re monetizing your personal data. And in many cases, doing so without your explicit approval. We’re automatically being opted in when we agree to Terms of Service and Privacy Policies. Even the most conscientious reader can struggle to make sense of those agreements and the data collection activities they describe.

    • Ban on electronic devices Disproportional and Impractical

      In a written statement yesterday the Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling, announced a ban on “Phones, laptops and tablets larger than 16.0cm x 9.3cm x 1.5cm in the cabin on flights to the UK from Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Tunisia.”

      The United States issued a similar ban earlier in the day. It was not long after that that the UK followed suit, however the UK ban is structured around any inbound flights from the afore mentioned countries rather than specific airports, which is the case with the US ban.

      Whilst security is increased on these items coming into the UK, Chris Grayling does state that “These new measures apply to flights into the UK and we are not currently advising against flying to and from those countries.” so anyone travelling to any of the countries on the list is still able to do so, and there is no change to the Foreign Office’s advice against travelling there.

    • The Ad Industry Is Really Excited About Plans To Gut Broadband Privacy Protections

      The broadband, advertising and marketing industries are absolutely thrilled about plans to kill the FCC’s new broadband privacy protections for consumers. Passed last year, the rules simply require that ISPs provide working opt-out tools, go to reasonable lengths to protect data and notify users of hack attacks, and be transparent about what data they collect and who they sell to. The rules also require that ISPs obtain opt-in consent (public enemy number one for marketing folks) for the collection and sale of more personal data like financial details or browsing histories.

    • How ISPs can sell your Web history—and how to stop them

      The House is also controlled by Republicans, but “we think we’ve got a shot at killing it off,” Gillula said. The House is expected to vote on the measure next week, but there’s still time to contact your legislator before a vote.

      “If we kill it [in the House], we don’t have to worry about any of this creepy tracking,” Gillula said.

    • Encryption Workarounds Paper Shows Why ‘Going Dark’ Is Not A Problem, And In Fact Is As Old As Humanity Itself

      That analogy reveals something profound: that the supposedly new problem of “going dark” — of not being able to find out information — has existed as long as humans have been around. After all, there is no way — yet, at least — of accessing information held in a person’s mind unless some kind of interrogation technique is used to extract it. And as the analogy shows us, that is exactly like needing to find some encryption workaround when information is held on a digital device. It may be possible, or it may not; but the only difference between the problems faced by those demanding answers thousands of years ago and today is that some of the required information may be held external to the mind in an encrypted digital form. Asking for guaranteed backdoors to that digital data is as unreasonable as demanding a foolproof method to extract information from any person’s mind. We accept that it may not be possible to do the latter, so why not accept the former may not be feasible either?

    • Three privacy tools that block your Internet provider from tracking you

      Recently, the United States Senate saw fit to allow Internet Service Providers to sell your web browsing history and other data to third parties. The action has yet to pass the House, but if it does, it means anyone concerned about privacy will have to protect themselves against over zealous data collection from their ISP.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

  • DRM

    • It’s happening! It’s happening! W3C erects DRM as web standard

      The World Wide Web Consortium has formally put forward highly controversial digital rights management as a new web standard.

      Dubbed Encrypted Media Extensions (EME), this anti-piracy mechanism was crafted by engineers from Google, Microsoft, and Netflix, and has been in development for some time. The DRM is supposed to thwart copyright infringement by stopping people from ripping video and other content from encrypted high-quality streams.

      The latest draft was published last week and formally put forward as a proposed standard soon after. Under W3C rules, a decision over whether to officially adopt EME will depend on a poll of its members.

    • The End of Ownership

      The internet of things, End User License Agreements, and Digital Rights Management are increasingly being used to give electronics manufacturers control and ownership over your stuff even after you buy it. Radio Motherboard talks to Aaron Perzanowski and Jason Schultz, authors of The End of Ownership about what we stand to lose when our songs, movies, tractors, and even our coffee makers serve another master. 

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Why You Should Care About The Supreme Court Case On Toner Cartridges

      [...] the crux of a Supreme Court case that will answer a question with far-reaching impact for all consumers: Can a company that sold you something use its patent on that product to control how you choose to use after you buy it?

    • Copyrights

      • Another Loss For Broadcast TV Streaming, And A Dangerous Shift Of Decision-Making Power

        Another court has ruled that streaming local broadcast TV channels to mobile devices is something that only traditional pay-TV companies can do—startups need not apply. The Ninth Circuit appeals court has ruled that FilmOn, an Internet video service, cannot use the license created by Congress for “secondary transmissions” of over-the-air TV broadcasts. That likely means that FilmOn and other Internet-based services won’t be able to stream broadcast TV at all. That’s a setback for local TV and the news, weather, local advertising, and community programming it carries.

      • Brazil Proposes New Digital Copyright Rules for the WTO

        Copyright rules don’t belong in trade agreements—so where do they belong? For the most part, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is probably the right place; it’s a fully multilateral body that devotes its entire attention to copyright, patent, and other so-called intellectual property (IP) rules, rather than including them as an afterthought in agreements that also deal with things like dairy products and rules of origin for yarn. Although we don’t always like the rules that come out of WIPO, at least we can be heard there—and sometimes our participation makes a tangible difference. The landmark Marrakesh Treaty for blind, visually impaired and print disabled users provides a good example.

        But there’s another multilateral international body that can also lay claim to authority over international intellectual property rules—the World Trade Organization (WTO). When the WTO first covered copyright and patent rules in a dedicated agreement called TRIPS, it was decried by activists as being far too strict. Today, ironically, those same activists (even EFF) often tout TRIPS as a more appropriate baseline standard for global IP rules, in contrast to the stricter (or “TRIPS-plus”) rules demanded for inclusion in preferential trade agreements such as the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

      • Netflix Gets Serious About Its Anti-Piracy Efforts
      • [Older] ‘Plan B’ to get Dotcom out of New Zealand drags on for 29 months

        An inquiry into deporting Kim Dotcom has been underway for 29 months and is set to be the longest, most drawn out investigation of its type.

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