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07.29.16

Links 28/7/2016: CORD as Linux Foundation Project, Wine 1.9.15 Released

Posted in News Roundup at 12:00 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Google acquires LaunchKit to make life easier for Android developers
  • LaunchKit team heads to Google and open-sources its tools for helping devs launch their apps

    The team behind LaunchKit, a set of tools that helps developers launch their apps, is heading to Google and joining the Developer Product Group.

    It doesn’t look like LaunchKit’s products are moving over to Google, so the team decided to open-source its products and make them available on GitHub. LaunchKit’s hosted services will be available for the next 12 months. After that, they will be discontinued.

    LaunchKit currently offers four tools and developers will now be able to take them and run them themselves: Screenshot Builder for easily creating annotated screenshots for Apple’s and Google’s store, App Website Builder for creating responsive landing pages for new apps, Review Monitor for — well… — tracking reviews in Apple’s App Store, and Sales Reporter for keeping track of sales. The team has also written a couple of how-to guides for developers, too.

  • Fork YOU! Sure, take the code. Then what?

    There’s an old adage in the open source world – if you don’t like it, fork it. This advice, often given in a flippant manner, makes it seem like forking a piece of software is not a big deal.

    Indeed, forking a small project you find on GitHub is not a big deal. There’s even a handy button to make it easy to fork it. Unlike many things in programming though, that interaction model, that simplicity of forking, does not scale. There is no button next to Debian that says Fork it!

    Thinking that all you need to do to make a project yours is to fork it is a fundamental misunderstanding of what large free/open source projects are – at their hearts, they are communities. One does not simply walk into Debian and fork it.

    One can, on the other hand, walk out of a project, bring all the other core developers along, and essentially leave the original an empty husk.

    This is what happened when LibreOffice forked away from the once-mighty OpenOffice; it’s what happened when MariaDB split from MySQL; and it’s what happened more recently when the core developers behind ownCloud left the company and forked the code to start their own project, Nextcloud. They also, thankfully, dropped the silly lowercase first letter thing.

    Nextcloud consists of the core developers who built ownCloud, but who were not, and, judging by the very public way this happened, had not been, in control of the direction of the product for some time.

  • Apache Graduates Another Big Data Project to Top Level

    For the past year, we’ve taken note of the many projects that the Apache Software Foundation has been elevating to Top-Level Status. The organization incubates more than 350 open source projects and initiatives, and has squarely turned its focus to Big Data and developer-focused tools in recent months. As Apache moves Big Data projects to Top-Level Status, they gain valuable community support.

    Only days ago, the foundation announced that Apache Kudu has graduated from the Apache Incubator to become a Top-Level Project (TLP). Kudu is an open source columnar storage engine built for the Apache Hadoop ecosystem designed to enable flexible, high-performance analytic pipelines. And now, Apache Twill has graduated as well. Twill is an abstraction over Apache Hadoop YARN that reduces the complexity of developing distributed Hadoop applications, allowing developers to focus more on their application logic.

  • SaaS/Back End

    • Spark 2.0 takes an all-in-one approach to big data

      Apache Spark, the in-memory processing system that’s fast become a centerpiece of modern big data frameworks, has officially released its long-awaited version 2.0.

      Aside from some major usability and performance improvements, Spark 2.0′s mission is to become a total solution for streaming and real-time data. This comes as a number of other projects — including others from the Apache Foundation — provide their own ways to boost real-time and in-memory processing.

  • Databases

    • Why Uber Engineering Switched from Postgres to MySQL

      The early architecture of Uber consisted of a monolithic backend application written in Python that used Postgres for data persistence. Since that time, the architecture of Uber has changed significantly, to a model of microservices and new data platforms. Specifically, in many of the cases where we previously used Postgres, we now use Schemaless, a novel database sharding layer built on top of MySQL. In this article, we’ll explore some of the drawbacks we found with Postgres and explain the decision to build Schemaless and other backend services on top of MySQL.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

    • FreeBSD Q2’2016: EFI Improvements, Prepping For FreeBSD 11.0, Package Updates

      For FreeBSD fans not closely following its development on a daily basis, the FreeBSD project has released their Q2’2016 quarterly status report that covers various activities going on around this BSD operating system project.

    • EuroBSDCon 2016 schedule has been released

      The EuroBSDCon 2016 talks and schedule have been released, and oh are we in for a treat!

      All three major BSD’s have a “how we made the network go fast” talk, nearly every single timeslot has a networking related talk, and most of the non-networking talks look fantastic as well.

    • OPNsense 16.7 released
    • pfSense/m0n0wall-Forked OPNsense 16.7 Released

      The latest major release is out of OPNsense, a BSD open-source firewall OS project derived from pfSense and m0n0wall.

      OPNsense 16.7 brings NetFlow-based reporting and export, trafic shaping support, two-factor authentication, HTTPS and ICAP support in the proxy server, and UEFI boot and installation modes.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • GNU Hyperbole 6.0.1 for Emacs 24.4 to 25 is released

      GNU Hyperbole (pronounced Ga-new Hi-per-bo-lee), or just Hyperbole, is an amazing programmable hypertextual information management system implemented as a GNU Emacs package. This is the first public release in 2016. Hyperbole has been greatly expanded and modernized for use with the latest Emacs 25 releases; it supports GNU Emacs 24.4 or above. It contains an extensive set of improvements that can greatly boost your day-to-day productivity with Emacs and your ability to manage information stored across many different machines on the internet. People who get used to Hyperbole find it helps them so much that they prefer never to use Emacs without it.

  • Public Services/Government

    • Belgium mulls reuse of banking mobile eID app

      The Belgium government wants to reuse ‘Belgian Mobile ID’ a smartphone app for electronic identification, developed by banks and telecom providers in the country. The eID app could be used for eGovernment services, and the federal IT service agency, Fedict, is working on the app’s integration.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Water resilience that flows: Open source technologies keep an eye on the water flow

      Communities around the world are familiar with the devastation brought on by floods and droughts. Scientists are concerned that, in light of global climate change, these events will only become more frequent and intense. Water variability, at its worst, can threaten the lives and well-beings of countless people. Sadly, humans cannot control the weather to protect themselves. But according to Silja Hund, a researcher at the University of British Columbia, communities can build resilience to water resource stress.

      Hund studies the occurrence and behavior of water. In particular, she studies rivers and streams. These have features (like water volume) that can change quickly. According to Hund, it is essential for communities to understand local water systems. Knowledge of water resources is helpful in developing effective water strategies. And one of the best ways to understand dynamic water bodies like rivers is to collect lots of data.

  • Programming/Development

    • Why open source programming languages are crushing proprietary peers

      It’s no secret that open source now dominates big data infrastructure. From Kubernetes to Hadoop to MongoDB, “No dominant platform-level software infrastructure has emerged in the last ten years in closed-source, proprietary form,” as Cloudera chief strategy officer Mike Olson reminded us.

    • JavaScript keeps its spot atop programming language rankings

      U.K.-based technology analyst firm RedMonk just released the latest version of its biannual rankings of programming languages, and once again JavaScript tops the list, followed by Java and PHP.

      Those are same three languages that topped RedMonk’s list in January. In fact, the entire top 10 remains the same as it was it was six months ago. Perhaps the biggest surprise in Redmonk’s list—compiling the “performance of programming languages relative to one another on GitHub and Stack Overflow”—is that there are so few surprises, at least in the top 10.

    • Plenty of fish in the C, IEEE finds in language popularity contest

      It’s no surprise that C and Java share the top two spots in the IEEE Spectrum’s latest Interactive Top Programming Languages survey, but R at number five? That’s a surprise.

      This month’s raking from TIOBE put Java at number one and C at number two, while the IEEE reverses those two, and the IEEE doesn’t rank assembly as a top-ten language like TIOBE does.

      It’s worth noting however that the IEEE’s sources are extremely diverse: the index comprises search results from Google, Twitter, GitHub, StackOverflow, Reddit, Hacker News, CareerBuilder, Dice, and the institute’s own eXplore Digital Library.

      Even then, there are some oddities in the 48 programming environments assessed: several commenters to the index have already remarked that “Arduino” shouldn’t be considered a language, because code for the teeny breadboard is written in C or C++.

Leftovers

  • Oh Twitter, Twitter, Twitter. Where did it all go wrong?

    Name and shame those who follow lots of people one week, fishing for follow backs, who then unfollow you the next. You all know who you are…Twitter influencers my arse.

  • Twitter must remember its mission if it wants to unlock new growth opportunity
  • Health/Nutrition

    • Denationalise the Olympics to really stamp out cheating

      Where is the justice in this? The Russian athlete, Yuliya Stepanova, risks death by revealing the extent of Russian doping in her Olympic sport. She has to flee her country with her family, live in hiding and train in secret. She is told that, provided she is “clean”, she may compete in the Rio Olympics next week, but “as a neutral”. She is then told she cannot compete. Instead the International Olympic Committee offers her a free ticket to the Games, so she can eat her heart out watching her compatriots perform in front of her. It is the Snowden moral: any whistleblower against any sort of power will be ostracised and humiliated.

    • US Senate Judiciary Chairman Questions High Cost Of Medicare Drug Coverage

      United States Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, an Iowa Republican, has demanded answers from the government Medicare programme regarding the rapid rise in costs of coverage of Americans’ prescription drugs. The demand follows a press report showing an extremely high climb in costs for the so-called “catastrophic coverage” program.

    • Florida regulators OK plan to increase toxins in water

      Despite the objection of environmental groups, state environmental regulators voted Tuesday to approve new standards that will increase the amount of cancer-causing toxins allowed in Florida’s rivers and streams under a plan the state says will protect more Floridians than current standards.

      The Environmental Regulation Commission voted 3-2 to approve a proposal that would increase the number of regulated chemicals from 54 to 92 allowed in rivers, streams and other sources of drinking water, news media outlets reported. The final vote came after hours of discussion, protests and emotional testimony.

    • Office workers must exercise for an hour a day to counter death risk

      Office workers must exercise for one hour a day to combat the deadly risk of modern working lifestyles, a major Lancet study has found.

      Research on more than one million adults found that sitting for at least eight hours a day could increase the risk of premature death by up to 60 per cent.

      Scientists said sedentary lifestyles were now posing as great a threat to public health as smoking, and were causing more deaths than obesity.

      They urged anyone spending hours at their desk to change their daily routine to take a five minute break every hour, as well as exercise at lunchtimes and evenings.

    • Details Of September UN High-Level Meeting On Antimicrobial Resistance

      Details of the upcoming United Nations General Assembly High-Level Meeting on Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) are coming clear after the preparation of a text laying out the specifics.

  • Security

    • Linux Security Automation at Scale in the Cloud

      Ten years ago it didn’t seem like Linux growth could increase any faster. Then, in 2006, Amazon launched Amazon Web Services (AWS). Linux growth went from linear to exponential. AWS competitors sprang up and were acquired by IBM, Microsoft, and other big players, accelerating Linux expansion even more.

      Linux became the platform of choice for the private cloud. But this movement wasn’t confined to the cloud. A rush to create Linux applications and services spilled over to traditional on premises. Linux had evolved from that obscure thing people ran web servers on to the backbone operating system of the majority of IT.

    • Don’t want to get hacked? Close your laptop.

      My friends often leave their computers open and unlocked. I tell them they should probably get in the habit of locking their computers, but they don’t listen to me. So I’ve created a simple project to hack my friends and show them the importance of computer security.

      All I need to do is wait for them to leave their computer unlocked for a few seconds, open up their terminal, and type a single, short command.

    • Citibank IT guy deliberately wiped routers, shut down 90% of firm’s networks across America

      It was just after 6pm on December 23, 2013, and Lennon Ray Brown, a computer engineer at the Citibank Regents Campus in Irving, Texas, was out for revenge.

      Earlier in the day, Brown – who was responsible for the bank’s IT systems – had attended a work performance review with his supervisor.

      It hadn’t gone well.

      Brown was now a ticking time bomb inside the organisation, waiting for his opportunity to strike. And with the insider privileges given to him by the company, he had more of an opportunity to wreak havoc than any external hacker.

    • Explo-Xen! Bunker buster bug breaks out guests from hypervisor

      A super-bug in the Xen hypervisor may allow privileged code running in guests to escape to the underlying host.

      This means, on vulnerable systems, malicious administrators within virtual machines can potentially break out of their confines and start interfering with the host server and other guests. This could be really bad news for shared environments.

      All versions of open-source Xen are affected (CVE-2016-6258, XSA-182) although it is only potentially exploitable on x86 hardware running paravirtualized (PV) guests. The bug was discovered by Jérémie Boutoille of Quarkslab, and publicly patched on Tuesday for Xen versions 4.3 to 4.7 and the latest bleeding-edge code.

    • Intel Puts Numbers on the Security Talent Shortage

      The cybersecurity shortfall in the workforce remains a critical vulnerability for companies and nations, according to an Intel Security report being issued today.

      Eighty-two percent of surveyed respondents reported a shortage of security skills, and respondents in every country said that cybersecurity education is deficient.

    • NIST declares the age of SMS-based 2-factor authentication over

      2-factor authentication is a great thing to have, and more and more services are making it a standard feature. But one of the go-to methods for sending 2FA notifications, SMS, is being left in the dust by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

    • 10 Best Password Cracking Tools Of 2016 | Windows, Linux, OS X
    • By November, Russian hackers could target voting machines

      Russia was behind the hacks into the Democratic National Committee’s computer network that led to the release of thousands of internal emails just before the party’s convention began, U.S. intelligence agencies have reportedly concluded.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Horrific pictures: 300 dead in Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s national drug crackdown

      RODRIGO “The Punisher” Duterte vowed to eliminate drug crime via state sanctioned murder and he’s fulfilling that promise with chilling efficiency.

      The official death toll since the Philippine president’s call on authorities and citizens last month to kill drug users and dealers on sight is almost 300 but the true figure is certain to be higher.

      The victims nobody reported missing, or cared enough about to identify, are unlikely to have made anyone’s list.

      Now the horrific results of Duterte’s crackdown have been illustrated in an extraordinary series of photographs by Getty’s Dondi Tawatao.

      According to police data, 293 suspected users and pushers were killed during police operations between July 1 and July 24. Human rights groups say this figure does not include countless people murdered by vigilantes in street executions.

    • Watchdog to Kerry: Tell Duterte to probe killings

      The watchdog group Human Rights Watch (HRW) urged US Secretary of State John Kerry on Tuesday, July 26, to tell Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte to investigate the recent killings of suspected drug dealers in the Philippines.

      Kerry is set to arrive in the Philippines on Tuesday for a two-day trip that includes a meeting with Duterte.

      In a statement, HRW Asia deputy director Phelim Kine said Kerry should air his concern about Duterte’s war against illegal drugs.

    • In a massive attempt to stop the spread of terror, French media are no longer publishing photos of terrorists

      After a spate of violent attacks in France, several French media organizations have vowed to no longer publish the names or images of terrorists.

      In an editorial published yesterday (July 27), after the killing of a priest by knife-wielding men in a Normandy church, newspaper Le Monde said (link in French) that it would stop publishing images of perpetrators. The paper said the decision was necessary to defeat the “strategy of hatred” facing France.

    • North Korea: U.S. declared war with sanctions
    • North Korea: U.S. “crossed the red line,” effectively declared war

      North Korea’s top diplomat for U.S. affairs told The Associated Press on Thursday that Washington “crossed the red line” and effectively declared war by putting leader Kim Jong Un on its list of sanctioned individuals, and said a vicious showdown could erupt if the U.S. and South Korea hold annual war games as planned next month.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Are we ready for the gold rush on the sea floor?

      THE submersible Alvin encountered its first “black smoker” 2000 metres deep off the coast of the Galapagos Islands. It was 1977, and the realisation that life could survive in pitch darkness next to deep sea hydrothermal vents was about to stun the world. Now we are returning to those vents, this time on the other side of the Pacific – and armed with diggers.

      The hot water shooting out of these vents contains all sorts of dissolved precious metals. On contact with the cold ocean water, these immediately precipitate out, showering the vicinity with gold, silver, copper and more (see diagram). Some want to tap into this booty, arguing that deep sea mining is not only lucrative, but also a more sustainable alternative to mineral extraction on land. But not everyone is convinced we can exploit the deep without damaging it.

    • The Ocean Could Be the New Gold Rush

      The bottom of the world’s ocean contains vast supplies of precious metals and other resources, including gold, diamonds, and cobalt. Now, as the first deep-sea mining project ramps up, nations are trying to hammer out guidelines to ensure this new “gold rush” doesn’t wreck the oceans.

      People have dreamed of harvesting riches from the seafloor for decades. A project off Papua New Guinea could begin as early as 2018, serving as a test case for an industry that could be highly lucrative. If it proves successful, it could kick off a boom of deep-sea mining around the world.

      In response, representatives of many nations, the mining industry, and environmental groups are meeting this week in Kingston, Jamaica, at an annual session of the International Seabed Authority. The purpose is to agree on safeguards and operating procedures for deep-sea mining, especially in the high seas. Under international jurisdiction, the high seas represent roughly two-thirds of the world’s oceans.

    • A Fracking Pipeline Puts Tim Kaine’s Fossil Fuel Industry Ties to the Test

      Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Tim Kaine is facing pressure from landowners in his home state of Virginia to stand against the planned Atlantic Coast Pipeline, which would carry fracked gas from Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia to mid-Atlantic markets.

      He’s made some moves in that direction: He’s held private meetings with landowners in the pipeline’s pathway; he’s asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to strengthen the consultation process for residents; and he introduced an amendment to a federal energy bill that would encourage regulators to carry out a review of the cumulative impact of the region’s four planned pipelines.

  • Finance

    • HMRC cleaners striking over pay: ‘They’ve treated us appallingly’

      When George Osborne announced a new “national living wage” (NLW) to boost low-paid workers’ income and help people off welfare, cleaner Maria Hill looked forward to the modest rise the extra 50p per hour would bring her. Hill, 54, has cleaned the Liverpool offices of HM Revenue and Customs for more than 15 years.

      “Things are tight, really tight to be honest,” she says. When you are earning £201.60 a week “every bit helps”. It never occurred to her that she would be left much worse off and would end up on strike.

      As the April deadline for bringing in the NLW approached, ISS, the company that employs the HMRC cleaners in a complex subcontracting chain, told staff that it could not afford the mandatory rise. It informed them that it intended to claw back any increase in hourly pay by cutting each worker’s number of hours so that their overall wages stayed the same.

    • Clinton Friend Admits What Everyone Knows Is True: Clinton Still Supports TPP & Will Back It

      If you’ve followed the whole TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership) thing at all, and/or the Presidential election this year, you probably already know that Hillary Clinton famously flip-flopped on TPP. She was for it, before she was against it (and tried to rewrite history to hide her support of it). Of course, basically everyone recognized that her newfound concerns about TPP were made up, as a response to (at the time) surging support for Bernie Sanders, who was vocally against the agreement. But, of course, as tons of people have been saying all along, everyone expects that after the election she’ll magically flip flop back to supporting TPP.

    • Anglo American cuts net debt to $11.7 billion, on track for less than $10 billion
    • Anglo’s Year of the Turnaround Puts Debt Targets Within Reach
    • Lloyds to cut 3,000 jobs, close more branches after Brexit shock

      Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY.L) said on Thursday it would step up its cost cutting plans to help to offset a more testing economic environment caused by Britain’s vote to quit the European Union.

      Britain’s largest retail bank aims to save 400 million pounds ($528.56 million) by end-2017 by axing a further 3,000 jobs and closing an additional 200 branches to protect its earnings and dividends against the effects of lower-for-longer interest rates.

      Lloyds, rescued in a 20.5 billion pound taxpayer bail-out during the financial crisis, is the first major British bank to report results since the referendum and is the most exposed to any downturn in the British economy.

      Chief Executive Officer Antonio Horta-Osório is searching for ways to prop up Lloyds’ dividend, one of its key attractions, and sustain profit growth in its main UK consumer and commercial lending market, still reeling from the Brexit result on June 24.

    • Lloyds cuts a further 3,000 jobs and doubles branch closure plan

      Lloyds has ramped-up its job-cutting scheme, axing a further 3,000 roles, even as it reported a 101% increase in pre-tax profits.

      The bank also doubled its planned branch closures, with 200 more set to vanish from the UK’s high-streets by the end of 2017.

      The cuts are in addition to the 9,000 job and 200 branch closures Lloyds announced in 2014.

      Lloyds reported a £2.5bn pre-tax profit for the half year to the end of June.

      In the same period last year, it made £1.2bn.

    • Not Just In The US: TPP Meeting More Resistance In Australia And Japan, Too

      It’s remarkable how TPP, a previously obscure trade deal known only to a few specialists — and to enlightened Techdirt readers, of course — has suddenly become one of the hottest issues in the US Presidential contest. But it’s important to remember that TPP is still a live issue in many of the other participating countries too. Malaysia seems to be the furthest along in the ratification process, and Peru is also moving forward. But there are signs that resistance could be growing, rather than diminishing, in some key nations.

    • Ford considers closing factories and raising prices in Europe in wake of Brexit

      Ford has warned it is considering closing factories and raising prices in the UK and Europe in the wake of Britain’s vote to leave the European Union.

      Announcing disappointing results on Thursday, the motor company forecast that the referendum decision could cost the company $1bn over the next two years.

      Ford is the largest car brand in the UK and Bob Shanks, Ford’s chief financial officer, warned price rises would be necessary there in order to offset currency fluctuations in the wake of Brexit. The pound has crashed 11% against the dollar since the Brexit vote on 23 June.

    • Clinton-Kaine Campaign Should Support TPP, Says CTA

      The following statement is attributed to Gary Shapiro, president and CEO, Consumer Technology Association (CTA)™, regarding the Clinton-Kaine campaign’s “evolving” position on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP):

      “As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, the Trans-Pacific Partnership ‘holds great economic opportunities to all participating nations.’ As recently as last Thursday, Sen. Tim Kaine reiterated his support for granting President Obama ‘fast-track’ authority to negotiate the trade deal. We can only hope the politics of the moment are driving the Clinton-Kaine campaign’s evolving rhetoric on TPP, not the substance of the deal.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Can Facts Slow The DNC Breach Runaway Train?

      Yesterday, Professor Thomas Rid (Kings College London) published his narrative of the DNC breach and strongly condemned the lack of action by the U.S. government against Russia.

      Susan Hennessey, a Harvard-educated lawyer who used to work at the Office of the General Counsel at NSA called the evidence “about as close to a smoking gun as can be expected where a sophisticated nation state is involved.”

      Then late Monday evening, the New York Times reported that “American intelligence agencies have “high confidence” that the Russian government was behind the DNC breach.

      It’s hard to beat a good narrative “when explanations take such a dreadful time” as Lewis Carroll pointed out. And the odds are that nothing that I write will change the momentum that’s rapidly building against the Russian government.

    • NSA could hold ‘smoking gun’ in DNC leak
    • Donald Trump Just Asked Russia To Hack The US Government

      Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, the Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump urged Russia to hack into the US government servers, releasing the personal emails of Hillary Clinton when she was the secretary of State.

    • Can Jill Stein Lead a Revolution?

      Jill Stein takes public transportation to the Democratic National Convention. On the day after Hillary Clinton made history as the first woman to win a major party presidential nomination, the Green Party presidential candidate is on the subway en route to the Wells Fargo Center. Adoring fans spot her on the way over and demand selfies. A heavily tattooed woman complains to Stein: “It’s been a Hillary party the whole time. It’s like brainwash, like waterboarding. It’s awful.”

      Stein is in high demand. The populist progressive tells me that after Bernie Sanders endorsed Clinton two weeks ago, effectively ending his insurgent campaign for president, a lot more people started paying attention to her campaign. “The floodgates opened,” Stein says. “I almost feel like a social-worker, being out there talking to the Bernie supporters. They are broken-hearted. They feel really abused, and misled, largely by the Democratic Party.”

    • Is the Elite Media Failing to Reach Trump Voters?

      The release of hacked Democratic National Committee emails last week was followed on Wednesday by Donald Trump’s invitation to Russia to find and release Hillary Clinton’s missing emails. Trump has since claimed that he was being “sarcastic,” but some believe that he is all too happy to rely on hacked materials to further his campaign for the White House—and doesn’t appreciate the national security implications of Russian intelligence’s alleged breach of DNC servers. Others believe that Trump’s more isolationist foreign policy ideas, such as retreating from NATO, should be discussed rationally and that the DNC hack is being used as a cudgel with which to attack anyone who isn’t sufficiently hawkish on Russia. The hack, and its political and geopolitical implications, has also occasioned a debate about whether and how the media ought to cover leaked—or in this case stolen—information.

    • DNC insiders detail months of escalating dysfunctio

      First, she asked Biden to do a fundraiser for her own reelection to her House seat in Florida in the primary challenge she’s facing next month. He agreed.

      The second was to get down to Boca Raton for the bat mitzvah.

      Biden’s staff balked. They offered to tape a video message from him instead, hoping that would satisfy her.

      Wasserman Schultz eagerly said yes. They played it for everyone who came.

      The meeting with Biden was symptomatic of the way the DNC was veering off the rails just as the presidential election was heating up. More than a dozen people inside the party apparatus, speaking in the wake of Wasserman Schultz’s resignation on Sunday, describe an internal culture in which few felt they could challenge an increasingly imperious and politically tone-deaf chair who often put her own interests ahead of party functions.

      Last week’s WikiLeaks dump, releasing thousands of emails showing DNC officials sparring with Bernie Sanders supporters and with one another, was what finally got Hillary Clinton’s top aides to force her out Sunday on the eve of the convention.

    • Latest from the DNC: Bernie loyalists plan prime-time protest

      Members of the group — Caitlin Glidewell, 20, an alternate delegate from Colorado, North Carolina delegate Joshua “Fox” Brown, 34, and Tennessee delegate Katie Cowley, 39, — tell USA TODAY that they are fed up with the Democratic Party’s treatment of Sanders and they signaled they would be part of a sort of Democratic tea party movement, agitating for more progressive policies going forward.

      They want everyone to read the nearly 20,000 hacked emails released last weekend by WikiLeaks showing some DNC officials have been biased toward Clinton all along and attempted to undermine Sanders by proposing to push stories in the media saying his campaign was a mess and questioning his religious beliefs.

    • Democratic Convention Targets Delegates Holding Signs Which Stray From Party Line

      Democratic Party personnel at the national convention are ejecting any Bernie Sanders delegates, who hold up hand-made signs or signs not officially produced by the party. There are whips walking aisles of the arena or sitting in seats engaged in monitoring the actions of delegates they believe will act out independently and stray from approved party messaging.

      Bryce Hill, a twenty-five year-old delegate from California, watched a number of Secret Service agents eject a delegate after he argued with them about whether the sign he made was dangerous to the convention.

      “They’ve told us not to make any signs,” Hill explained. “They will just warn us if we hold any hand-made or outside signs. We have ‘Ban Fracking’ signs that were brought in and ‘No TPP’ signs. And they say they won’t take them. They’ll just ask us to leave if we hold them up.”

      Democratic National Convention personnel have informed delegates they will receive one warning and then their credentials will be revoked.

    • Don’t blame Bernie’s #NeverHillary voters if Trump beats Clinton

      After the glowing testimonials, the gracious concession by Bernie Sanders, and the star power of the current president and an ever-popular past president, Hillary Clinton is sure to get a bounce in the polls from this week’s Democratic convention.

      With virtually the same certainty, however, the other woman running for president this year, the Green Party’s Jill Stein, will also get a bounce coming out of the Philadelphia convention.

      Even though Sanders urged his supporters to back Clinton, a stubborn #NeverHillary faction are poised to flock to Stein, potentially draining votes from Clinton that may — in the headline of the Washington Post’s print edition — “rob” the former first lady of the election.

    • Bernie Sanders Announces He Is Leaving The Democratic Party

      He revealed this week that he is resuming his status as a political independent and leaving the Democratic Party when he goes back to work in the U.S. Senate.

      The Vermont senator, a self-described socialist and runner-up to Hillary Clinton in the presidential primary sweepstakes, ran for president as a Democrat.

      Last November, when filing his paperwork for the New Hampshire primary, Sanders said “I am running as a Democrat obviously, I am a Democrat now,” the Burlington Free Press reported. “Sanders says he’ll run as a Democrat in future elections,” the Free Press added.

      On Tuesday, Sanders seemed to change his tune about his party affiliation. During the Bloomberg Politics breakfast in Philadelphia, he declared that “I was elected as an independent; I’ll stay two years more as an independent,” the Wall Street Journal detailed.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • ‘Pearls Before Swine’ Cartoon Mocking NSA Wiretapping Censored

      The comic strip “Pearls Before Swine” is no stranger to controversy and is well-known for pushing the envelope. Apparently, yesterday’s scheduled strip went a bit too far, and was not published in newspapers. Pearls Before Swine’s cartoonist Stephan Pastis tweeted it out anyways, saying that he thought the strip was “harmless” and that the censorship was unnecessary.

    • Comic Strip Pulled Over ISIS Reference

      Cartoonist Stephen Pastis, creator of the popular comic Pearls Before Swine, announced on his Facebook yesterday that his July 27 strip was pulled by syndicators and newspapers for being overly offensive.

      Pearls Before Swine is a daily comic strip that runs in over 750 newspapers. Its main characters are the sarcastic, narcissistic, beer-loving Rat and his roommate, the blissfully ignorant Pig. Other main characters include Goat, an arrogant intellectual; Zebra, who seeks to avoid the incompetent fraternity of imbecilic crocodiles next door; and Guard Duck, a violent and delusional veteran. Pearls Before Swine won the National Cartoonists’ Society Newspaper Comic Strip Award in 2003 and 2006 and the 2015 Reuben Award for Best Newspaper Comic. It is beloved for its dark humor, violence, foul language, and infamously elaborate puns.

    • Trump Shows the Flaws of NSA Surveillance
    • Donald Trump’s most chilling comment on the DNC hack had nothing to do with Russia
    • Democrats Seem to Want to Forget Obama’s Role in Our Surveillance State

      Anti-war Democrats found their voices again, albeit briefly, when former CIA Director Leon Panetta spoke on behalf of Hillary Clinton at the convention last night. A large pack of delegates (likely Bernie Sanders’ supporters) attempted to drown out part of Panetta’s speech—which attempted to present Clinton as the choice to take on terrorists—with chants of “No More War.”

    • Dentist Sues Another Unhappy Patient; Offers To Let Journalist See Patients’ Private Files To Dispute Claims

      Yelp — both a frequent target of misguided lawsuits and the host of many, many targets of similarly-misguided lawsuits — has instituted a nifty new flag that lets readers and reviewers know which businesses are issuing legal threats or filing lawsuits over negative reviews. The warning — pictured below — first showed up in May after Prestigious Pets went legal over a review it didn’t care for.

    • NSA Surveillance Compliance Reports Show Typos, Lack Of Communication Resulting In Erroneous Targeting And Collection

      The Director of National Intelligence’s office (ODNI) has just released three Section 702 compliance reports covering December 2012 – May 2014. Considering the six-month lag time between the period covered and the reports’ release, this is very likely as up to date as it can be at this point.

    • Get ready to use your fingerprints to make bank withdrawals

      USING a PIN for cash withdrawals and credit card transactions will soon seem as old-fashioned as signing your name.

      The Payments Association of SA has announced a new standard for biometric authentication‚ which will mean fingerprints‚ palms‚ voices‚ irises and even faces can be used to identify cardholders at any bank or shop.

      But the association says it has no plans to force businesses to use the technology‚ and none of the big banks has plans to use biometrics.

      Association CEO Walter Volker said the new standard meant biometric systems would not be limited to individual vendors.

    • Tor Project says it has confirmed sexual misconduct by developer Jacob Appelbaum

      The Tor Project, a nonprofit known for its online anonymity software, says it has verified claims that former employee Jacob Appelbaum engaged in “sexually aggressive behavior” with people inside and outside of its organization. “We have confirmed that the events did take place as reported,” Shari Steele, Tor’s executive director, tells The Verge.

      In a blog post today, Steele says that Tor began an investigation into Appelbaum’s behavior after several people came forward with allegations of misconduct in late May. “Many people inside and outside the Tor Project have reported incidents of being humiliated, intimidated, bullied, and frightened by Jacob, and several experienced unwanted sexually aggressive behavior from him,” Steele writes. Steele says the investigation found additional people, beyond those making public accusations, who experienced similar “incidents.”

    • What Can a Hacker Do with Your Genetic Information?

      Learning about the genetic markers stored in your DNA can be an illuminating experience, even a life-altering one. Now that direct-to-consumer genetic testing companies such as 23andMe have made these tests more accessible and affordable, it’s no wonder that more than 1 million people have shipped their spit off to be genotyped, and have all their genetic information catalogued (and sold) in the process.

      When a massive cache of private information is all stored in one place, it will naturally be a target for hackers. Though there hasn’t been a hack of any consumer genetic testing company yet, it may just a matter of time before someone breaches one of these sites and gains access to not just your credit card, but also your genetic markers.

      So how concerned should we be, and what might happen if a hacker ever did get his or her hands on your DNA?

    • ‘Wish I Had The Power’ To Hack Enemies’ Emails, Says Man Very Close To Having Such Power

      This weird presidential election continues to get weirder. Donald Trump, perhaps upset about being overshadowed this week by the Democratic Convention, held a press conference on Wednesday morning where he said a whole bunch of completely nutty stuff. A lot of the attention is being placed on his weird possibly half-joking request that Russia hack into Hillary Clinton’s emails and reveal the 33,000 that were deleted (or maybe just give them to the FBI, as he later said in a tweet). That was bizarre on a number of levels, including coming right after denying he had any connection to Russia and the possibility that they had hacked the Democratic National Committee’s computer system.

    • Court Says Bugs The FBI Planted Around California Courthouses Did Not Violate Anyone’s Expectation Of Privacy

      The FBI’s surreptitious recording devices — scattered around three California courthouses — raised a few eyebrows when the recordings were submitted as evidence. The defense lawyers wondered whether the devices violated the conversants’ expectation of privacy, admittedly a high bar to reach considering their location near the courthouse steps — by every definition a public area.

      The defense team cited a Supreme Court decision involving phone booths, hoping to equate their clients’ “hushed tones” with closing a phone booth door. Small steps like these — used by everyone — are attempts to create privacy in public areas, but courts are very hesitant to join defendants in erecting privacy expectations in public places.

    • As surveillance gets smart, hackers get smarter

      There is an escalating technological arms race underway between governments and hacktivists. As governments step up their surveillance, the hacktivists find new ways to subvert it.

    • The Phone Case To Protect You From Prying Eyes, Designed By Edward Snowden
    • Edward Snowden Designs Device To Detect iPhone Snooping
    • Federal Prosecutors Use All Writs Order To Compel Suspect To Unlock Phone With His Fingerprint

      While courts generally agree that a fingerprint is non-testimonial — despite its ability to unlock all sorts of testimonial stuff — there aren’t too many courts willing to extend that coverage to passwords. There are exceptions, of course, but items held in someone’s mind are given a bit more deference than those at their literal fingertips.

      And that’s likely why the All Writs-compelled fingerprint access hasn’t allowed the ATF inside Keys’ phone. The feds can force Keys to place his finger on the iPhone screen all they want, but it likely won’t unlock the device. Apple’s security requires a passcode as well as a fingerprint if it’s been more than 48 hours since the phone was last unlocked. The time elapsed between when the phone was seized and the order obtained for Keys’ fingerprint added another layer of security to the phone — one not so easily defeated with All Writs orders.

      Keys is no one’s idea of a sympathetic party. He allegedly forced two teen girls, aged 14 and 15, to have sex with men for several hours a day by drugging them into submission. Whether or not his phone contained more evidence is unknown. It’s unclear from the recently unsealed documents whether federal investigators found another way into the device after the application of Keys’ fingerprint failed to unlock the phone.

    • In Secret Battle, Surveillance Court Reined in FBI Use of Information Obtained From Phone Calls

      Beginning over a decade ago, the country’s surveillance court intervened to limit the FBI’s ability to act on some sensitive information that it collected while monitoring phone calls.

      The wrangling between the FBI and the secret court is contained in previously undisclosed documents obtained by the Electronic Privacy Information Center, or EPIC. The documents, part of an ongoing Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, were shared with The Intercept.

      The documents reveal that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) told the FBI several times between 2005 and 2007 that using some incidental information it collected while monitoring communications in an investigation — specifically, numbers people punch into their phones after they’ve placed a call — would require an explicit authorization from the court, even in an emergency.

      “The newly obtained summaries are significant because they show the power that the [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court] has to limit expansive FBI surveillance practices,” Alan Butler, an attorney for EPIC, wrote in an email to The Intercept.

    • Raytheon Gets NSA Certification for Ethernet Encryption Tool; John Droge Comments
    • Raytheon launches NSA-certified, next-generation Ethernet encryption system
    • Raytheon launches NSA-approved ethernet encryption system
  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Protesters clash with police in South Korea as Japan-funded ‘comfort women’ foundation opens in Seoul

      South Korean protesters clashed with the police on Thursday (July 28) as they tried to disrupt the opening in Seoul of a Tokyo-funded foundation for women forced to work in Japanese wartime brothels.

      Last December, the two nations reached a “final and irreversible” agreement, under which Tokyo offered an apology and a 1 billion yen to open the foundation for the dwindling number of so-called “comfort women” who are still alive. But the deal was condemned by some of the women and South Korean activists, who took issue with Japan’s refusal to accept formal legal responsibility.

      “You can’t silence the victims with money!” scores of protesters chanted at Thursday’s opening event, which they picketed with banners reading: “This is not what the comfort women want!”

      Several college students forced their way into the venue where foundation officials were due to hold a press conference, and had to be forcibly removed by police.

    • Yes, democracy is under huge threat; not from Trump or Brexit voters, but liberals

      Sounds like an exaggeration? This is precisely the argument British blogger Andrew Sullivan put forward in his 8,000-word op-ed against Donald Trump, “Democracies end when they are too democratic.” Democracies, argued Sullivan, often drift into passionate excesses, and super smart people must come to their rescue. “Elites matter in a democracy..”, because they are “the critical ingredient to save democracy from itself.”

      The liberal position is an open challenge to the century-old struggle that the world has emerged from in recognising people’s power. It is quite often that the words ‘freedom’ and ‘democracy’ are interchanged. But there is a difference between the two. Democracy presents the architecture for freedom. Through a set of ideas, principles, set of practices and procedures that have been moulded through a long, arduous history, it institutionalises freedom. Voting is a precious right.

      If Brexit and Trump and the rise of far right in Europe present a challenge, it will take much more agile thinking than merely putting forth cosmetic, superfluous and reckless arguments.

    • People smugglers ‘making a mockery’ of UK borders: Damning evidence shows how easy it is for criminals to avoid penalties after a third of fines are never paid

      People smugglers are making a ‘laughing stock’ of Britain’s porous borders, a withering report concludes today.

      Damning evidence shows the Home Office’s failure to crack down on immigration abuse, as well as how easy it is for rule-breakers to avoid penalties.

      In the latest example, it was revealed that more than a third of fines issued to lorry drivers for carrying illegal immigrants into Britain are never paid.

    • ‘I am not an extremist’: What ISIS priest murderer told French judges who released him with an electronic tag that only worked after lunch time

      The known ISIS terrorist who murdered a Catholic priest in northern France had told judges ‘I am not an extremist’ before being freed from prison to kill, it emerged today.

      Shocking details about the lax manner with which 19-year-old Adel Kermiche was treated emerged following the slaughter of Father Jacques Hamel, 86, in Normandy.

      Kermich was wearing an electronic tag, after serving part of his sentence for a range of terrorist offences including trying to join ISIS in Syria, and then being released in March.

    • I am a Muslim doctor. I saved a Christian in Pakistan and it nearly cost me my life

      I am a Pakistani medical doctor, currently receiving political asylum in the US for the past year and a half. I sought refuge here after having to go through much humiliation and outright hatred for trying to practice ethical medicine and for belonging to a religious minority in my own motherland.

      A while back, my father retired from a reputed local bank in Pakistan and moved to the US, along with the rest of my family. I continued to live in Pakistan: I was a fresh medical graduate pursuing the dream of post-graduate education in nephrology.

      Life seemed well on track until one night while working an ER shift, when I received a patient needing urgent dialysis. Unattended and disheveled as he was, there was no one with him to get him the medicine he needed. Fearing he might die, I instinctually grabbed the emergency medicine donated via zakaat, an Islamic system of alms-giving, and performed the life-saving hemodialysis.

    • Senate to probe drug killings

      The Senate is set to investigate the rising incidence of extrajudicial killings of alleged drug pushers even as President Duterte has vowed there will be no letup in his anti-drug campaign.

      The inquiry will be spearheaded by the Senate committee on justice and human rights, chaired by Sen. Leila de Lima, along with Sen. Panfilo Lacson as chairman of the committee on public order and dangerous drugs.

      De Lima earlier filed Resolution No. 9 seeking an investigation into “recent rampant extrajudicial killings and summary executions of suspected criminals to strengthen the mechanisms of accountability of law enforcers and to institute corrective legislative measures to ensure full respect of basic human rights, especially the right to life.”

    • We need the Obamas to keep reminding us that America was built by slaves

      It was easily one of the most moving moments of the convention thus far, playing and replaying on various broadcasters throughout the following day. It also inspired some rather predictable blowback from the right, with Rush Limbaugh demanding the First Lady “get over” America’s slaving past, and Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly delivering perhaps the most egregious “but-actually” with a screed on how not all the laborers who built the White House were slaves, and that those who were were “well fed.”

      Her husband, president Barack Obama, was obviously unconcerned by such objections, adding his own acknowledgement of the legacy of slavery in his own DNC speech, delivered Wednesday (July 28). Speaking to the values of “hard work, kindness, courtesy, humility, responsibility, helping each other out,” he noted, “My grandparents knew these values weren’t reserved for one race. They could be passed down to a half-Kenyan grandson, or a half-Asian granddaughter. In fact, they were the same values Michelle’s parents, the descendants of slaves, taught their own kids, living in a bungalow on the South Side of Chicago.”

    • Texas Cop Says He Was Threatened For Trying To Tell The Truth About Sandra Bland

      Over a year after Sandra Bland died in police custody, an officer involved in the case is giving the world a glimpse into how the “blue wall of silence” works inside the law enforcement industry.

      Prairie View, TX, police officer Michael Kelley says that a local prosecutor and police officials suppressed facts about Bland’s initial arrest while investigating Brian Encinia, the man who actually cuffed and booked Bland. Encinia was eventually charged, but only with perjury — a decision that sparked further outrage.

      Kelley got to the scene too late to see exactly what happened between Encinia and Bland during the key moments off a dash-cam video where the two are out of frame and Bland says he’s knocked her head against the pavement. But Encinia said he didn’t know what he was arresting Bland for but would come up with something, Kelley says. “She had a large mark on her head. Maybe she fell when she was in handcuffs. Maybe she got kicked,” he told the Huffington Post’s Michael McLaughlin.

    • Inside the CIA’s Penal Colonies

      In June 2006, President George W. Bush told Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) director Michael Hayden that he was worried. The subject of Bush’s concern was a picture of a CIA detainee chained to the ceiling, clothed in a diaper. This came almost five years into the agency’s detention and interrogation program, four years since it began waterboarding prisoners, three years after the revelations of Abu Ghraib, two years after a top-secret report had condemned the agency’s “inhumane and undocumented techniques,” and a year after the Washington Post reported the existence of the CIA’s “covert prison system” — but now President Bush was concerned.

      The public knows this because the CIA recently released fifty previously classified documents — 821 pages in all. Among them is a two-page memorandum from June 7, 2006, consisting of nothing but redactions, save one sentence in which Hayden passed along the president’s concern.

    • Government Continues to Deny Manning Access to Health Care

      Imprisoned whistleblower Chelsea Manning received a document from Army officials today informing her that she is being investigated for serious new charges related to her July 5th attempt to take her own life.

      If convicted of these “administrative offenses,” she could be placed in indefinite solitary confinement for the remainder of her decades-long sentence.

      “It is deeply troubling that Chelsea is now being subjected to an investigation and possible punishment for her attempt to take her life. The government has long been aware of Chelsea’s distress associated with the denial of medical care related to her gender transition and yet delayed and denied the treatment recognized as necessary,” said ACLU Staff Attorney Chase Strangio. “Now, while Chelsea is suffering the darkest depression she has experienced since her arrest, the government is taking actions to punish her for that pain. It is unconscionable and we hope that the investigation is immediately ended and that she is given the health care that she needs to recover.”

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • How The EU Might Keep Internet Access Open To The Public

      Earlier this summer, the Body of European Regulators of Electronic Communications (BEREC) took in around a half million public comments on its draft guidelines for member states on implementing end user protections for fixed and mobile Internet connections. The largest telecoms in Europe are lobbying hard for weakened interpretations of the so-called “net neutrality” Regulation passed late last year, which also covers data roaming and the EU Digital Single Market.

      A few weeks ago, the largest telecom ISPs issued a 5G Manifesto in which they threatened not to invest in 5G wireless networks unless BEREC waters down its guidelines for enforcement of open Internet access.

      Fortunately for American consumers, startup entrepreneurs and small businesses, the FCC was not swayed by similar ISP threats about how common carrier law would kill network investment here. And so even with U.S. open Internet law now firmly in place after a recent court decision, Verizon has announced significant continued investment in 5G networks and field testing in multiple locations.

      But carriers in Europe, that don’t face competition from cable broadband providers like American phone company ISPs do, enjoy even stronger market dominance that allows them to intimidate regulators attempting to defend end user rights. The current generation of online startups needs to be able to count on the same open Internet connectivity that the most popular global platforms enjoyed in their infancy a decade or two ago. Only now it’s a battle against corporate lobbyists to get it.

    • Slovakia to extend reach of broadband network

      The government of Slovakia wants to extend the country’s broadband Internet infrastructure to small villages and communities. In a video speech on 27 June, Deputy Prime Minister for Digitisation Peter Pellegrini said that it is the state’s responsibility to connect the country’s remote areas.

      The country is about to start the construction of broadband infrastructure, and is organising a public consultation to determine which regions and municipalities should be connected first, the Deputy Prime Minister’s office explains in a statement.

    • After Ripping Off Cities, States For Years, Verizon Makes Some Familiar Broadband Promises To Boston

      We’ve long discussed how Verizon has a bit of a pattern of getting billions in tax breaks and subsidies in exchange for fiber broadband it only half deploys. State after state, city after city, Verizon gets politicians to sign off on cozy deals that effectively give Verizon everything it wants — in exchange for promises of “full” city or state fiber broadband deployment. Except time, and time, and time again, cities that signed these sweetheart, loophole filled deals then stand around with a dopey look on their face when they realize they’ve been had.

    • United Arab Emirates Makes Using A VPN A Crime… To Protect The Local Telcos From VoIP Competition

      The PIA article does point out that there is an “approved” VPN from the two state approved telcos, Etisiat and du, but that it blocks lots of services itself and is prohibitively expensive. And while the natural assumption about any attempt to ban VPNs is that it’s for surveillance purposes, that may just be a side benefit here. The key focus does appear to be very much about blocking access to VoIP services to prop up the two official telcos. In other countries, the concern about net neutrality was always that telcos would do things like block VoIP. In the UAE, the government goes so far as to not just support such blocking, but actively work to criminalize the use of a VPN to get around such blocks.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • MSF Hearing On Opposition To Pfizer Pneumonia Patent In India

      Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF, Doctors Without Borders) filed a patent opposition in March in India to prevent Pfizer from patenting a pneumonia drug and will defend its position in a hearing tomorrow at the Indian Patent Office.

    • Intellectual Property Fun: Is Comedy Central Claiming It Owns The Character Stephen Colbert?

      For years, when Stephen Colbert was on Comedy Central, he actually would discuss intellectual property issues with surprising frequency, including taking on SOPA back when it was a thing. Perhaps this is because he has a brother who is an intellectual property lawyer (who apparently works for the Olympics, which is not very encouraging). So it’s interesting to see that Colbert is now claiming that a lawyer from Comedy Central or Viacom (he’s not entirely clear) has contacted CBS to say that it holds the rights to the “character” of Stephen Colbert.

      If you’re not at all familiar with Colbert, this will take some unpacking. For many years, Colbert hosted a TV show on Comedy Central (owned by Viacom) called The Colbert Report, in which he played a pompous/clueless TV news blowhard… also named Stephen Colbert. A big part of the conceit was that this was a character, quite different than the actual Stephen Colbert in real life. More recently, Colbert ended that show, to move to network TV to take over David Letterman’s old slot, where it’s now the Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Importantly, on the Late Show, Colbert insisted that he was leaving “the character” of Stephen Colbert behind and would actually be himself, Stephen Colbert. Got that?

    • Copyrights

      • TPB Founder Peter Sunde — “I’ve Been Saying For Years That I Want The Pirate Bay To Shut Down”

        Peter Sunde, co-founder of The Pirate Bay, talked about the decentralization of the torrent ecosystem on TorrentFreak’s audio podcast series Steal The Show. Sunde said that relying on a limited number of torrent websites is not a good idea. These bigger websites lack innovation and thus, become vulnerable.

      • Kim Dotcom’s lawyer will also represent alleged KickassTorrents founder

        Just over a week ago, federal authorities announced the arrest of a Ukrainian man that they say is the mastermind of KickassTorrents (KAT), which, until recently, was the world’s largest BitTorrent search site.

        Now, the suspect, Artem Vaulin, 30, has retained Ira Rothken, the California lawyer who has successfully kept Kim Dotcom out of custody in New Zealand since 2012.

        Rothken serves as Dotcom’s lead global counsel—his client still faces criminal charges over alleged massive copyright infringement on his now-shuttered site, Megaupload. American prosecutors have failed to get Dotcom extradited to the United States.

        Vaulin was charged last week in Chicago federal court with one count of conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement, one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, and two counts of criminal copyright infringement.

      • Photographer Sues Getty Images For $1 Billion For Claiming Copyright On Photos She Donated To The Public

        Getty Images has a bit of a well-deserved reputation as a giant copyright troll, sending all kinds of nasty threat letters to people who use the images that Getty licenses. And even though it’s showed some signs of adapting to the modern internet world, it hasn’t given up on its standard trolling practices. It’s also famously bad at it, often sending absolutely ridiculous threat letters.

        But it may have sent one so stupid that it could potentially cost Getty itself a lot of money. That’s because it sent a threat letter to famed photographer Carol Highsmith… demanding she pay up for posting her own damn photo. That would be bad enough on its own… but it’s actually much, much worse. You see, Highsmith is such a wonderful person that she donated a massive collection of her photographs to the Library of Congress — over 100,000 of them, for them to be released royalty free for the public to use. She didn’t put them fully into the public domain, though, instead saying that anyone could use them so long as they gave credit back to her. It was basically a very early kind of version of what’s now known as the Creative Commons Attribution License (which didn’t exist at the time she made that agreement with the Library of Congress).

      • Photographer sues Getty Images for selling photos she donated to public

        A well-known American photographer has now sued Getty Images and other related companies—she claims they have been wrongly been selling copyright license for over 18,000 of her photos that she had already donated to the public for free, via the Library of Congress.

        The photographer, Carol Highsmith, is widely considered to be a modern-day successor to her photographic idols, Frances Benjamin Johnston and Dorothea Lange, who were famous for capturing images of American life in the 19th and 20th centuries, respectfully.

        Inspired by the fact that Johnston donated her life’s work to the Library of Congress for public use in the 1930s, Highsmith wanted to follow suit and began donating her work “to the public, including copyrights throughout the world,” as early as 1988.

      • Sometimes The Good Guys Win

        Many of the issues discussed here involve abuse of copyright by some to enslave the many. Chuckle… This is a classic example of an extremum. Getty Images threatened to sue a photographer for use of an image which the photographer had taken, and donated to the public domain. That ticked her off enough to sue the bastards and I expect she will win. Where there’s smoke there’s fire. I wonder how many other instances of such abuse there is in Getty’s collection.

      • Photographer Files $1bn Copyright Claim Against Getty Images

        When Getty Images sent photographer Carol Highsmith a $120 settlement demand for using one of ‘their’ images without permission, things were about to get messy. The image in question was actually Highsmith’s own work, displayed on her own website. Highsmith has now responded with a $1bn lawsuit.

      • Whose Copyright Office?

        In 2013, in a lecture at Columbia University, Register of Copyrights Maria Pallante announced an ambitious vision for the “Next Great Copyright Act.” That vision appropriately included a prominent role for the Copyright Office in helping policy makers work through some difficult issues relating to copyright and evolving technologies. The Register closed her lecture by stating that a revised Copyright Act “[m]ost importantly…would serve the public interest.” For those of us in the copyright world who believe that balance in the system between the interests of right holders and the interests of the public is structurally and substantively critical to good copyright policy, the Register’s words were greatly reassuring. Some recent developments raise questions, however, about the extent to which the Copyright Office is demonstrating genuine commitment to balanced copyright policy in the public’s interest.

        One such development came last month, when the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in Capitol Records v. Vimeo sharply criticized a Copyright Office report which concluded that the DMCA safe harbors do not apply to infringement claims involving pre-1972 sound recordings. The Office’s report supported the record label plaintiffs’ position in the litigation. In its opinion, the court engaged in an extended deconstruction of the Office’s argument, concluding that it was “flawed in several respects” and that it “substantially overstated, and misapplied, what the Supreme Court said.” In a blog post at the time, I pointed out how unusual it is for a court to speak in such strong terms about shortcomings in the legal analysis of an expert government agency on a matter within its domain of expertise. Had the court accepted what it concluded was the Office’s highly problematic analysis of the safe harbor eligibility question, the recording labels would have been handed a significant windfall, and Vimeo (and similarly situated online service providers) would have suffered a commensurate loss.

      • Libraries, Groups Welcome WIPO Copyright Appointment, With Hope

        A range of highly active groups at the World Intellectual Property Organization representing libraries, archives, and digital civil liberties this week welcomed the appointment of a copyright industry lobbyist to lead WIPO copyright issues. But they have voiced their hope that the appointee, Sylvie Forbin of France, will quickly show leadership on the promotion and support of the cultural heritage sector as it relates to copyright.

07.28.16

EPO Loses More Than 80% of Cases at the International Labour Organisation (ILO)

Posted in Europe, Patents at 10:13 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

EPO management would rather see staff keeping their eyes shut in the face of it

Battistelli eyes shut

Summary: The International Labour Organisation (or Organization) helps show just to what degree the European Patent Office (EPO) violates the rights of workers

THE EPO is facing a hard time at ILO right now, having abolished or demolished labour rights. “Better late than never,” goes to saying, even if justice comes many years late and many receive no justice for purely clerical reasons (more than anything else).

Someone who follows the ILOAT judgments has taken a closer look at what goes on there. Having gone through the EPO cases for the last session, that person gave us some statistics about it. Most EPO workers haven’t heard of ILO for months, but a lot is going on there. While people are in holiday…

“Most EPO workers haven’t heard of ILO for months, but a lot is going on there.”“As usual,” we got told, “most of the cases were dismissed on formal grounds. 21 cases, 10 were irretrievable (internal remedies not exhausted, etc). Of the eleven remaining, the EPO basically lost 9.”

That’s more than 80% of all cases lose by EPO!

“Check the cases out,” we were told, “you can Google it, the cases are all public, but I think it is pretty interesting. There is such a long delay to get to the ILOAT that it is only now that the “Battistelli cases” are starting to cone through. And the ILOAT doesn’t seem very impressed.”

“That’s more than 80% of all cases lose by EPO!”Over at IP Kat somebody wrote about a particular case: “The judgment 3694 of the ILO administrative tribunal is very interesting. It confirms that the EPO does not follow the rules of law.”

Here is a response to that:

Interesting indeed, because it confirms that by excluding the two members appointed by the Staff Committee, the Appeal Committee was improperly composed.

Also interesting, the decision of the Tribunal took less than 4 years.

In the meantime, how many decisions have been taken by the Appeal Committee in this faulty composition?

Techrights intends to publish and comment on outcomes of these rulings. This might take a while, but there is no lack of time. As it takes nearly half a decade for outcomes to be reached, a few extra weeks or months aren’t that huge a lag/latency.

In related news, we recently learned about labour abuses at WIPO as well. “While I don’t have time for WIPO stories,” one reader told us, “I know you’ve commented on that crooked organization’s dealings before…”

For those wishing to express solidarity or help WIPO workers (where Mr. Battistelli tried to become head but lost to Mr. Gurry), here are some details about a new WIPO petition titled “Stop union-busting and stop retaliation against whistleblowers at WIPO”. We reproduce the text below for future reference:

In September 2014 the Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), Francis Gurry, fired WIPO Staff Council President, Moncef Kateb, as he was about to reveal damaging information about fraud, wrongdoing, mismanagement and theft of staff DNA. Now Gurry is trying to close down the Staff Council and replace it with a new compliant, management-friendly model.

Gurry decided to set up his own WIPO Staff Council and is currently preparing illegal elections in order to dislodge the current duly elected Staff Council which is too critical for his liking. This will leave WIPO staff deprived of the last independent voice that is prepared to expose bad practices and abuse of power in this United Nations Specialized Agency.

It is a desperate move by Gurry at a time when attempts are being made to cover up and suppress an investigation report, apparently containing adverse findings on allegations made against him. It follows a public hearing at the US Congress at which he was compared to Sepp Blatter, the former President of FIFA, and a letter from the heads of several bipartisan sub-committees demanding his dismissal.

We need your support.

Please tell Gurry to stop retaliation against whistleblowers and the legally elected Staff Council. Please tell the WIPO Member States to call for Gurry’s resignation. The credibility of the Organization, its Member States and the entire UN system is at stake.

“Staff all over the world are kindly invited to demonstrate their support for the duly elected WIPO Staff Council by electronically signing the petition using the following link,” said a concerned person, possibly a WIPO insider. We already explained some of the similarities between what happens at WIPO and at the EPO. We recently learned from a reliable source that there may also be fraud at the EPO, albeit those who have the evidence are afraid to come out with it (due to fear).

To Understand What Battistelli Has Turned the EPO Into Look at Turkey and China

Posted in Asia, Europe, Patents at 9:38 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Not just in terms of human rights, potentially patent quality as well

Erdoğan and EPO
Original photo: Erdoğan, 2012

Summary: Battistelli and his notorious Vice-President from SIPO (Croatia) turn the European Patent Office, once the pride of Europe, into a human rights cesspool with SIPO (China) connections

Battistelli is dangerous. He destroys the Office (EPO) having already repelled and driven away a lot of the top talent. There’s no way to attract these workers back and the EPO, based on the hard facts (not Bergot's lies), is unable to attract skilled workers. Maybe that’s what Battistelli wants. A bunch of young workers would be more obedient (also cheaper as per the salaries scale) and they would fail to identify or understand prior art, thus approve a lot more applications erroneously. Battistelli sure doesn’t stand any judges (maybe “penis envy” as per the psychological theory, metaphorically alluding to intelligence), not even the ones who rule against him in high courts at The Hague. Remember who has just suspended literally thousands of judges (among people in other ranks). It was Erdoğan.

“Remember who has just suspended literally thousands of judges (among people in other ranks).”In many ways, Battistelli is not just a French republican (he is a politician) but somewhat of a Maoist Chinese ruler or Sultan like Erdoğan. AMBA, which represents the broads of appeal that Battistelli has been busy attacking lately, issues a statement in the front page of its Web site. The statement (noted in this comment) says: “Much depends on the how the BoAC and the President of the BoA choose to act. This could lead either to an increase in independence, or the opposite. For 40 years, the President of the Office and the Vice President of DG3 have enjoyed broad discretionary powers. The BoAC and the President of the BoA have similar powers, and their decisions could lead to problems similar to those underlying R19/12. The reform, rather than transferring the problem, should rather have set new guarantees in the written text of the law (albeit secondary law).”

Well, since the President of the BoA is elected in part by Battistelli himself, we can safely assume that he or she will either be a Battistelli crony or somewhat afraid enough of Battistelli (no independence) to simply appease Battistelli at every turn. How is that improved independence?

EPLAW, which represents patent law firms, commented on this ‘extrajudicial killing’ of the appeals processes at the EPO (that’s pretty much what the systematic attacks on the boards boil down to), citing AMBA and saying: “Eventually, the perception of independence has turned out to be the guidance for the structural reform, not independence in substance. The EBA’s decision R 19/12 continues to show its consequences.”

“Whatever remains of the EPO after DG3 is priced out of reach and understaffed even further in tiny overcrowded out-of-Munich offices, it will never be the same.”Battistelli is killing one of the cornerstones of the EPO as per the EPC, namely the appeals process. “Killing it softly” as the song goes… and “the trickle approach of undermining DG3 until it becomes untenable,” this one new comment noted. The full comment says: “My sympathies from DG1. Decisions made openly and for a logical reason, however personally painful, can be borne and normally solutions would be sought. In this case , it’s plotting and playing with people’s lives for no clearly stated reason. As you say, it’s the trickle approach of undermining DG3 until it becomes untenable – no replacement of members leads to an inevitable running down of DG3′s effectiveness. A normal consideration, if this were to be inevitable,would be to manage this and to involve staff in preparing both the office and their careers for the future. The current situation could not be further from this. You don’t deserve this. Nobody does. Again, my sympathies.”

Whatever remains of the EPO after DG3 is priced out of reach and understaffed even further in tiny overcrowded out-of-Munich offices, it will never be the same. Talented judges are likely to seek employment elsewhere and this is probably what Battistelli wants. He wants to dim down the lights and make life rather hard so as to induce a ‘natural death’. This is something he has already done to SUEPO (only with limited success because blowback comes from the entire staff).

The EPO now shares more than just disregard for human rights with China. It also adopts the low(er) patent quality which China is notorious for. AFD China Intellectual Property Law Office has just said that “SIPO and the European Patent Office (EPO) decided to renew the MOU on beefing up patent classification cooperation for another 6 years.”

“Turkey is a member of the EPO, don’t forget that, and Battistelli already meets similar types of rulers (if not much worse)…”Oh, look, another MoU. The original page (in English) is dated two weeks ago. Is this something which Battistelli can really brag about? Becoming more like China?

The country is ranked very low (boding poorly) on human rights in many areas and Western think tank (or propaganda mill) “Freedom House rates China as a 6 (the second lowest possible rank) in political freedoms.”

Team Battistelli sent me several legal threats for my reporting, even after I had gotten a high-profile solicitor on my side. Erdoğan would be proud of Battistelli; have they met yet? Turkey is a member of the EPO, don’t forget that, and Battistelli already meets similar types of rulers (if not much worse)…

07.27.16

Patent Lawyers Move Closer to Battistelli’s Rubber-stamping Office While the Appeal Boards Pushed Away as Collective Punishment Which Masks Decline in Patent Quality

Posted in Europe, Patents at 7:39 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

‘Pesky’ quality control cannot coexist with Battistelli and middlemen who are paid to trick examiners

Urgent

Summary: Urgently sending appeal boards away and urgently granting applicants patents without proper examination will be Battistelli’s sorrow legacy at the European Patent Office

TODAY’S EPO is not the EPO which existed decades ago or even a decade ago (before Battistelli). It is so ruthless an employer that critical thinking is simply disallowed or better kept to oneself (because thoughtcrime is impossible to prove/enforce/incriminate).

One judge who allegedly spoke out (anonymously) was not only ousted but also defamed thereafter (in an effort to rationalise the illegal ousting). Now there is collective punishment for those who defended him or simply insisted on a fair trial, justice, and proper (legally-acquired) evidence, not defamatory-yet-unchallengeable claims. “It is not about taking decisions that make sense,” one person wrote the other day about Battistelli’s methods. “It is about punishing…”

One can soon see the similarities to Turkey.

“I know that the president and his cronies will be furiously spinning the “reforms” as being fully justified.”
      –Anonymous
Earlier today the EPO wrote about a page titled “Boards of appeal and key decisions 2016″. How much more of the boards of appeal would Battistelli allow to exist/vanish? He already punishes them like never before. The boards of appeal are the one thing Battistelli is killing faster than anything else (even SUEPO); it helps him lower patent quality without this decline being measurably noticed in the short term (while his term as President continues). Low occupational capacity means that year-to-year figures would not be comparable, never mind the imminent rise in costs (self-fulfilling prophecy when it comes to demand for appeals).

One person wrote to us earlier this week (in relation to the ‘exile’ of the appeal boards) that: “To add insult to injury, the office space available to the Board members and chairmen will be reduced by 36% when moving to Haar (even although office space in Haar is substantially cheaper than in Munich). To put it into perspective: a Board chairman will get less space than an examiner, even although he or she has the same grade as a principal director!”

Another deliberate attack by Battistelli against appeal judges? Incentive to leave/resign/retire? Against those who threaten to show that quality control under his administration has been severely compromised? Battistelli’s “focus upon punishing the Boards of Appeal has led him to a situation that makes no sense,” one person wrote the other day. Here is the full comment:

I know that it is about punishing. That much is blindingly obvious from the plain facts.

The point that I was making is that BB’s [Battistelli] focus upon punishing the Boards of Appeal has led him to a situation that makes no sense from any other perspective.

For example, the Boards have:
been “reformed” in a manner that (according to the perception of many users and AMBA) actually reduces their independence;
been moved, against the express wishes of the users (who argued that physical location had little to do with (the perception of) independence of the Boards); and
had the fees for their services substantially increased, which was directly against the interests of the users and has no objective justification whatsoever (as, for example: there is certainly no shortfall in the EPO’s funding under the current fee structure; and being “subsidised” by renewal fees certainly has no bearing upon independence if the there is no “outside” interference in the setting of the budget of the Boards).

Thus, by any objective measure, BB has failed to achieve his stated objective and has acted against the express wishes of the users. I know that the president and his cronies will be furiously spinning the “reforms” as being fully justified. However, I now wonder whether sanity can be restored by the emergence of a sufficient groundswell of opinion that, contrary to the EPO management’s line, is based upon a credible interpretation of the facts.

“The move may not influence where Oral Proceedings before the BoA will take place,” one person wrote in response. “Does anyone know if just the offices of the BoA members will been moved, or whether also future invitations to Oral Proceedings will be for the “new” building?”

One response to that said: The intention is for oral proceedings also to take place in the Haar building. It is however apparent that only a limited number of o.p. rooms are foreseen, and that it will be necessary to use the same trick which airlines already use, i.e. “overbooking”. If on a particular day all oral proceedings for which summons were issued actually take place and not enough rooms are available, the participants for one or more of those proceedings would be sent home.”

“Battistelli policy is not simple retribution,” said another person. “The aim is to get rid of the board of appeal” (because of the UPC, in our humble assessment). Here is the full comment:

Battistelli policy is not simple retribution. The aim is to get rid of the board of appeal and it is a war of attrition. Let me list the facts:
-the boards have been understaffed for the past 3 years. Members who retired have simply not been replaced, we miss about 30% people.
-as the recent events discussed here show, boards members can be removed from their post at will. They just still get 50% pay till their 5 years contract runs out.
-the new fees make appeal extremely expensive and therefore unattractive.

From talks in the corridors of the Isar building, I would say that most board members recognise the writing on the wall. It is just that they have nowhere to go, they will be prevented to work for 2 years. A large amount of members will simply retire this or next year. What else is there to do? The planned removal to Haar will probably take place with a much smaller DG3.

Furthermore, as the event listed here shows, the Council agrees.

Whatever is happening in Munich right now, it’s not good. Battistelli and his ilk are opportunistically unifying officials around mass shootings today (classic political trick) and this new article shows patent law firms trying to reside in the EPO’s back yard — so to speak — for quicker access if not fast lanes (there are other strategic moves being reported today). “The move aims to strengthen the firm’s European presence and provide a “convenient” meeting place for its clients who appear before the European Patent Office (EPO), which is based in Munich,” says the article. They can even have lunch in some lobby together with examiners, or choose office space in the same building as the judges. And at the same time the boards of appeals are being repelled and pushing out of Munich? Sure, that makes a lot of sense!

Software Patents a Dying Breed, But Patent Lawyers in Denial Over it and Notorious Judge Rodney Gilstrap Ignores Alice (Supreme Court)

Posted in America, Courtroom, Patents at 6:37 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The trolls’ best friend, Mr. Gilstrap

Rodney Gilstrap

Summary: A look at what law and practice are saying about software patents, contrasted or contradicted by the patent industry and trolls-friendly courts (which make business out of or together with patent aggressors)

TECHRIGHTS spent a lot of time writing about Microsoft’s hijack of Yahoo. Microsoft took everything it wanted from Yahoo and left a dead company to rot, as usual (that’s Microsoft’s modus operandi as one can see in Corel, Novell, Nokia et cetera).

Now that Yahoo is sold (and journalists don’t bother mentioning how Microsoft killed Yahoo) the think tank which is IAM says: “While that deal will involve the bulk of Yahoo!’s traditional business, it does not involve the Excalibur patent portfolio, a stockpile of around 2,700 assets that the company has spun out into a separate vehicle to be sold separately.”

“Microsoft took everything it wanted from Yahoo and left a dead company to rot, as usual (that’s Microsoft’s modus operandi as one can see in Corel, Novell, Nokia et cetera).”We always sensed the danger that Yahoo would give its software patents to some hostile entity or a Microsoft-made entity like CPTN. Yahoo has a lot of software patents, but they’re quite worthless after Alice and some are nearing their expiry. The good news is, one single decision at the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) had supreme impact and this lowers the risk to software developers everywhere in the world (if they trade within the US or export to the US).

A lot of patent lawyers/attorneys keep pondering/assessing tricks for portraying software patents as non-abstract (even though they always are), in light of Alice whose impact was incredibly profound.

As expected all along, Bascom is exploited by software patents proponents including Watchtroll’s site (patent attorney John M. Rogitz in this case). He says that the case of “DDR begins with Mayo step 1 analysis without definitively declaring whether the claims are or are not abstract. Instead, the opinion observes what the claims are not: they are not a mathematical algorithm or a fundamental economic or longstanding commercial practice, but instead address a business challenge (retaining website visitors), a challenge particular to the Internet. Instead of declaring this not to be “abstract”, however, Judge Chen simply points out that identifying the precise nature of the abstract idea is not as straightforward as in Alice given the various varying formulations of the underlying abstract idea presented by the infringer and by the dissent.”

Unless Judge Chen actually wrote a computer program, it is likely that understanding of abstractness of algorithms would be deficient. Watch the very latest pro-software patents lobbying/promotion from Shelston IP [1, 2]. They’re preying on ignorance and looking for exceptional court decisions not only to preserve software patents in the US/Australia but also bring them elsewhere (like Australia’s neighbours and in particular a defiant New Zealand).

“Unless Judge Chen actually wrote a computer program, it is likely that understanding of abstractness of algorithms would be deficient.”Speaking of judges, Rodney Gilstrap is a villain, not a judge (recall his track record in East Texas [1, 2, 3, 4]). He deals with an enormous number of troll cases where software patents are treated favourably and practicing businesses are forced to pay parasitic trolls. As it turns out, he also publishes documents in Microsoft Word format (maybe a clerical error). He is publishing in formats that only Microsoft customers can properly access, much like the EPO (see today’s tweet which mostly matters to people who are using Microsoft Windows, not anything else).

“Section 101 is a powerful tool for patent defendants, if they can get heard,” Joe Mullin says in his summary and here is the beginning of the article “East Texas judge backs off restrictive “abstract” patent motion rules”:

US District Judge Rodney Gilstrap of the Eastern District of Texas hears more patent cases than any other federal judge. Last year, he installed a set of controversial rules for those cases, leading to rare public criticism. Changes to Gilstrap’s order (Word file), dated last week, suggest some of those rules have been withdrawn.

Section 101 of the US patent laws is what the Supreme Court has deemed bans overly abstract patents. Since the high court decided Alice v. CLS Bank in 2014, Section 101 has become more important, since courts have been reading it as banning many software patents that recite basic processes.

Last year, the patent rules for Gilstrap’s court held that defendants seeking to file a motion under Section 101 “may do so only upon a grant of leave from the Court after a showing of good cause, which shall be presented through the letter briefing process.”

Gilstrap is out of control. More people need to speak about it. CAFC too had such a judge, but he was ejected for misconduct.

Patent trolls are going after small companies if they don’t wish the claims to be challenged or for trials to be concluded. It’s a rogue system, so in addition to ending sofwtare patents it would be useful to prevent venue shifting to Rodney Gilstrap with his bogus Texan ‘court’ (whose district openly advertises itself as being friendly towards trolls). What a mess of a system! This needs to be tackled immediately.

“There`s no present. There`s only the immediate future and the recent past.”

George Carlin

CAFC Meddling in PTAB Affairs; Unified Patents Fights a Good Fight by Invalidating Software Patents

Posted in America, Courtroom, Patents at 5:55 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

PTAB

Summary: A look at how the AIA’s Patent Trial and Appeal Board is invalidating software patents post-Alice, with or without involvement of patent courts

PATENT QUALITY at the USPTO seems to be improving as more courts rule against patents, PTAB challenges the USPTO’s examiners, and even examiners are growingly worried because of those first two group (courts and PTAB), so they are cautious in granting patents, thus rejecting more of them, especially when these are abstract.

Michael Loney, writing for MIP from New York, says that the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC), originator of software patents, has just “ruled that the burden of proof does not shift to the patent owner on institution of an inter partes review (IPR) trial, in In re Magnum Tools International. It reversed the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB)’s determination that the challenged claims were invalid for obviousness.”

“This means that, regardless of CAFC’s notorious past, it has become somewhat of a solution to the software patents epidemic.”One may be tempted to say that this is just typical of CAFC, but actually, judging by the numbers, CAFC very often rules against software patents these days. Hugo Roy from the Free Software Foundation Europe has just “updated https://hroy.eu/posts/patentFacts/ … listing some interesting facts about #patents. (Check the invalidation rate in the US! 91%)”

The 91% figure refers to CAFC and here is the relevant part from the updated page: “In the US, patents challenged on the basis of the US Supreme Court Alice v. CLS Bank decision are invalidated by Federal Circuit courts in 91.9% of cases (66.5% for all courts).”

This means that, regardless of CAFC’s notorious past, it has become somewhat of a solution to the software patents epidemic. It has no choice after Alice at a superior level (SCOTUS). In another article, one which Michael Loney found and shared, an inter partes review (the way PTAB slays software patents) is mentioned as follows: “On July 25, 2016, Unified Patents Inc. filed a petition for inter partes review of all claims 1-15 of U.S. Patent 6,415,207. In IPR2016-01465, Unified challenged a patent directed to automated tracking, one that Shipping and Transit has asserted against more than 90 small businesses.”

It’s no coincidence that small businesses are targeted; small businesses cannot afford or don’t have the incentive to take this to court. Imagine what UPC would do to European SMEs if it ever became a reality. This would help patent trolls at the expense of small businesses (in particular the smallest ones).

Early Certainty That Benoît Battistelli is Dangerously Clueless and a Major Risk to the EPO

Posted in Europe, Patents at 5:24 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

No scientists wanted or needed in Team Battistelli

MoU signed by Bergot

Summary: The chaos which Team Battistelli is assured to deliver if it doesn’t treat scientists like scientists, instead viewing them as a production line with rubber-stamping duties

THE EPO never ceases to amaze. What the USPTO stopped being (or is trying hard to put an end to) the EPO is now trying to become. Quality of patents is treated as a ‘nuisance’ because backlog, which means pendency, isn’t tolerated by people in suits who never earned a scientific degree and cannot grasp the complexity of peer review, literature surveys, etc.

Judging by today’s tweet which links to this tripe from Benoît Battistelli (warning: the EPO may be able to track click-through sources), patent quality is being increasingly disregarded/discarded. In relation to ECfS, which we mentioned here before (e.g. [1, 2, 3]), Battistelli says the “EPO has addressed this issue effectively through the implementation of “Early Certainty from Search” (ECfS),” having also stated (correctly) that the “EPO has built its reputation upon quality.” For those who don’t know how ECfS works, see our prior posts. Battistelli destroys that great reputation of the EPO not just by mocking justice, labour rights, human rights, the European courts etc. but also by ending the very essence of the patent office. “Since July 2014,” he says (that’s when we started reporting on many EPO scandals), we are supposed to think his office “aims to provide a high quality search report with a preliminary opinion on patentability within six months of filing.”

“These incompetent managers have no grip on reality, they have no scientific background (watch who was put in charge of hiring scientists in Human Resources and how she lies to staff), and they are basically self-serving amateurs who are treating professors and judges like kids in need of discipline so as to compensate for their own insecurities.”Working based on self-imposed or top-down deadlines alone (we leaked some E-mails about it last year) is not wise. It encourages sloppy work. Having peer-reviewed papers for international journals since my twenties, I know how unreasonable this demand can be when thousands of patent applications come through the door and one needs to cooperate with other examiners (or reviewers). For good (high-impact) international journals it can take up to half a decade for a single paper to get accepted. Battistelli clearly does not understand any of this. Unlike previous EPO Presidents, he’s no scientist, he’s just a politician with ENA ‘education’. He habitually fabricates ‘studies’ (which he pays for!), just like anti-scientific lobbies and think tanks.

Unless Battistelli gets fired (or resigns), he will leave nothing of the EPO (devalue existing patents and erroneously grant future ones). This promises to damage the whole of Europe as a result. But does he care? He would be retired (if not dead) by then. He wants a hero’s welcome in his lobbying festival (one is being organised at the EPO's expense for next year and is mentioned every day by the EPO in Twitter). He won’t be around to see something hitting the fan, will he? It’s like Republican politicians who leave a mess behind themselves (like a nation in tatters, e.g. Iraq), in order for another party and another Presidential term to have to cope with.

Longtime (senior) staff of the EPO is not dangerous. It’s Battistelli and his ilk who are dangerous because they threaten to put the entire Office (and Organisation) out of business. Senior examiners who already retired and/or left care because they have their pensions and old comrades at stake. They don’t like what they see in Team Battistelli. These incompetent managers have no grip on reality, they have no scientific background (watch who was put in charge of hiring scientists in Human Resources and how she lies to staff), and they are basically self-serving amateurs who are treating professors and judges like kids in need of discipline so as to compensate for their own insecurities.

OIN Makes Claims About “Open Source Innovation”, But It Produces Nothing and Protects Virtually Nobody

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, OIN, Patents at 4:43 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

A better initiative would strive and work towards ending software patents, not faith-based ‘protection’

“Where knowledge ends, religion begins.”

Benjamin Disraeli

Summary: The Open Invention Network (OIN) reports growth, but in practical terms it does little or nothing to help developers of Free/Open Source software

THE function of OIN seems benign if not benevolent on the surface; the problem is, it helps distract from better efforts that would more effectively defend Free/Open Source software (FOSS). Another not-so-useful initiative was Peer-to-Patent, but it seems to be gone by now.

OIN is growing (see the OIN ‘Community’) and MRV has just joined OIN (see the press release [1, 2], mostly or completely overlooked by reporters). This is a sign of growth, but it is growth which won't help FOSS all that much because it was never truly designed with FOSS in mind. The “Open Source Innovation” mentioned in the title of the press release wrongly assumes this will be beneficial to FOSS, but unless every company in the world joined and vowed not to sue any of the other members (like Oracle suing Google), what would it achieve? And what about lawsuits by proxy? Even if Microsoft was ever to join, its patent trolls (two of which we wrote about last night) would still be capable of suing Linux developers/companies.

Speaking of which, even Android players are a patent menace at times (e.g. Sony). A new and relatively long article by Professor Jason Rantanen speaks about Ericsson’s patent troll, Unwired Planet, and its case against Apple. “This post will focus on the issue of fault in the context of Unwired Planet,” he wrote upfront, “although its observations about fault are relevant to issues of culpability in the context of enhanced damages determinations.”

Even if Ericsson was ever to join OIN, this would not prevent it from suing Android OEMs, directly or via proxies like Unwired Planet (which even operates in Europe now).

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