US Supreme Court reaches landmark patent ruling


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The US Supreme Court has issued a ruling that could prove to be a major setback to so-called patent trolls.

The judges ruled unanimously that a software patent was invalid because all it did was take an existing technique and add the idea of doing it on a computer.

It means that inventions must either improve the way a computer functions or introduce another advancement in order to qualify as patents.

The issue had split the tech industry.

The ruling came about because New York-based CLS Bank International had challenged a patent held by the Australian company Alice Corp.

The court ruled that Alice Corp had taken an existing abstract idea relating to financial trades and simply added the concept of “generic computer implementation” to it, which it said failed to qualify as a novelty.

CLS had accused Alice Corp of being a non-practicing entity (NPE) – a firm whose primary interest was using patents to force others to make payments rather than creating goods of its own.

NPEs are colloquially referred to as “trolls” by some commentators.

The decision could prove problematic for other NPEs that have built up massive patent libraries for the purpose of extracting payments from others, since some of the inventions might now prove worthless despite having been previously rubber-stamped by the US Patent and Trademark Office.

Google and Facebook had supported the idea of tougher restrictions on the grounds that many granted patents had been too vague, resulting in court battles and a possible brake on innovation.

But IBM – the company awarded the most US patents for 21 years in a row – had cautioned that limiting what qualified as a patent, could undermine the legitimacy of thousands of existing intellectual property rights and discourage firms from investing in research.


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Patent troll gets shafted by court


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Intellectual Ventures (IV) is the world’s biggest patent-licensing company and boasts of having collected tens of thousands of patents since it was founded in 2000. It’s raised about $6 billion from investors over the years, and to recoup that money, it started filing lawsuits over patents a few years ago. In 2013, it launched a new salvo, filing 13 lawsuits against major US banks, including Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, and Capital One.

The Capital One case ended last Wednesday, when a Virginia federal judge threw out the two IV patents that remained in the case. It’s the first IV patent case seen through to a judgment, and it ended in a total loss for the patent-holding giant: both patents were invalidated, one on multiple grounds. (An IV case against Motorola went to a jury, but it ended in a mistrial, and no new trial has been scheduled.)

The case was just weeks away from a jury trial, but US District Judge Anthony Trenga didn’t let it get that far. In an opinion published Wednesday, Trenga found that IV’s patents were simply abstract ideas: “nothing more than the mere manipulation or reorganization of data,” he wrote. “At most, the patents describe a more efficient system or method for performing tasks than could be done without a computer, i.e. monitoring expenditures according to preset limits (the ’137 Patent) or determining what would appeal to a particular user from a particular website (the ’382 Patent.)” 

The ’382 patent, invented by the same Philadelphia patent lawyer who prosecuted it, received a special smackdown from Trenga, who found it invalid on two different grounds. The patent, entitled “advanced Internet interface providing user display access of customized webpages,” dates to an original application filed in 1998. Its principal claim describes sending customized webpages “as a function of the user’s personal characteristics.” But “neither the public nor a person of ordinary skill in the art could reasonably determine the precise metes and bounds of the claimed invention” wrote Trenga.

IV lawyers argued that the ’137 patent was infringed by Capital One’s “account alerts” system, while the ShareBuilder investing website infringed the ’382 patent. Three other patents that were dropped by IV earlier in the litigation were initially said to cover widely used features of modern banking: CVV/CVC codes on the back of Visa and MasterCard cards, online bill paying, and envelope-free ATMs.

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U.S. military UAVs migrate to Linux


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Raytheon is switching its UAV control system from Solaris to Linux for U.S. military drones, starting with a Northrop Grumman MQ-8C Fire Scout helicopter.

Earlier this month Raytheon entered into a $15.8 million contract with the U.S. Navy to upgrade Raytheon’s control systems for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), according to a May 2 Avionics Intelligence report. The overhaul, which involves a switch from Solaris to Linux, is designed to implement more modern controls to help ground-based personnel control UAVs.

Image      Raytheon TCS ground station equipment

Raytheon’s tuxified version of its Vertical Takeoff and Landing Unmanned Air Vehicle (VTUAV) Tactical Control System (TCS) will also implement “universal UAV control qualities.” As a result the TCS can be used in in all U.S. Navy, Air Force, Army, and Marine Corps UAVs that weigh at least 20 pounds. By providing an open standard, the common Linux-based platform is expected to reduce costs by limiting the types of UAV control systems that need to be built and maintained for each craft. When the upgrade is completed in April 2016, the VTUAV TCS will first see action in Northrop Grumman’s 41-foot long MQ-8C Fire Scout unmanned helicopter. The MQ-8C Fire Scout, which is itself a retrofitted Bell 407 commercial helicopter, is primarily used for reconnaissance, but can also be used for precision targeting support to assist other combat aircraft.


At the U.S. Navy’s request, Raytheon is converting the VTUAV TCS “block II” system from Sun’s aging, UNIX-based Solaris 8 OS to a “B2VL” version of Linux, says Avionics Intelligence. The company will “continue evolving the system to the military’s new Unmanned Aerial System Control Segment architecture,” says the story.

Raytheon will also implement more modern intuitive controls, as well as automate testing procedures, and support software upgrades in the field, says Avionics Intelligence. In addition, the company will upgrade the TCS full-motion video capability and shipboard messaging formats, while implementing a new training and simulation capability.

Assuming the Fire Scout implementation goes well, the U.S. military will then expand the system to other large UAVs. In addition to U.S. military UAVs, the systems will be used by NATO in its STANAG 4586-compliant UAVs. The TCS can also be configured in racks for ship-based operations, “shelterized” as a land-based system, or integrated into a shelter on land vehicles such as the Humvee.

A brief history of Linux in the military

Since the early days of embedded Linux, the U.S. military has been gradually converting selected computer equipment from real-time operating systems (RTOSes), as well as Unix and Windows platforms to Linux. RTOSes, with their greater real-time capabilities, still lead the way in embedded systems, especially in combat, but Linux is increasingly finding a role, especially in systems where advanced user interfaces and wireless communications are important.

Back in 2001, the U.S. Navy and GET Engineering announced that the latter’s commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) Navy Tactical Data Systems (NTDS) would switch to Hard Hat Linux, the forerunner of MontaVista Linux, and one of the first embedded Linux distributions. As cost controls were tightened later in the decade, the U.S. Department of Defense increasingly turned to Linux as a way to cut costs by providing common open platforms based on COTS systems.


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Patent troll gets hit with racketeering lawsuit


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Patent trolls are legal. Can one be nailed for extortion? One man is betting yes.


Most business owners sued by patent trolls don’t talk about it to anyone other than their lawyer; a typical response is to cross one’s fingers and hope the problem goes away. It won’t, of course. Often they do the next best thing—hope it will go away for as little money as possible.

FindTheBest CEO Kevin O’Connor, who also cofounded online ad giant DoubleClick, decided several weeks ago he would talk about it—publicly, and often. O’Connor wrote to tech sites like PandoDaily telling them of his determination to “slaughter” the troll, the “scum of the earth.” And in August, he pledged $1 million of his own money to fight the troll that went after his company.

Now, we’re getting a vision of how FindTheBest is putting that money to use. The company has made a novel legal claim, saying that the troll that came after it is so reckless, it has engaged in outright extortion, violating racketeering laws.

The claim follows an investigation of the troll that sued the startup, Lumen View Technology. The investigation started when O’Connor and FindTheBest Director of Operations Danny Seigle simply started making phone calls. “The first thing you think is, who the hell are these guys?” O’Connor ultimately called the lead inventor listed on the patent, which describes a system for “multilateral decision-making.”

That set in motion a bizarre series of events. Lumen View’s lawyer accused O’Connor of committing a “hate crime” by calling the inventor, Eileen Shapiro of Hillcrest Group. (“I didn’t know patent trolls were a protected class,” quips O’Connor.) Then the lawyer threatened criminal charges (again, for calling an inventor). From there, it got personal.

Instead of kowtowing to the troll’s demand for $50,000, O’Connor decided to pledge to spend $1 million fighting. He knows it’s not the rational business decision… and he doesn’t care.

“From a business perspective, it makes 100 percent sense to settle,” he said. “I decided to take it out of the business realm, and into the personal. There’s one thing I love and that’s technology, and there’s one thing I hate, and that’s injustice—people abusing the system.”

Instead of kowtowing to the troll’s demand for $50,000, O’Connor decided to pledge to spend $1 million fighting. He knows it’s not the rational business decision… and he doesn’t care.

Spending that kind of cash to fight a patent suit would be devastating to a young startup like FindTheBest, which has received $17 million in venture capital over its short life, according to a recent VentureBeat profile. O’Connor, who sold DoubleClick to Google in 2008, felt like he’s in a position to use some of his personal wealth to push back.


The suit makes technological demands that would be almost impossible to meet without shutting down one’s business. In the Lumen View letter, it instructs the target company to immediately preserve “the complete contents of each user’s network share and e-mail accounts,” writes Lumen. That’s in addition to “system sequestration,” meaning that any accused “systems, media, and devices” should be “remove[d]… from service to properly sequester and protect them.”

In other words, to comply with the demands of litigation, Wasserbauer actually suggested that FindTheBest had to immediately stop using its computers.

It’s a long shot any way you look at it. But O’Connor’s tangle with Shapiro, her co-inventor, their lawyers, and any other shadowy investors that may exist, is now set to be a knock-down, drag-out fight. It’s the kind of battle rarely seen in patent troll litigation, where trolls often want to settle for “nuisance” settlements that can be in the high five-figures.


O’Connor hopes he’ll encourage other entrepreneurs to speak out.


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UK and US Governments Warn: ‘Don’t Use Internet Explorer’


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Don’t use Internet Explorer’ — that’s the warning being given by the US and UK governments this week after a severe security flaw affecting the browser was detected. 

Both countries are advising citizens who are running Microsoft Windows to switch to an alternative web browser, such as Opera, Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome, until the vulnerability has been fixed.

Internet Explorer 6 through 11 — released on Windows 7 and 8 last year — are all confirmed to be affected.

For XP Users It Gets Worse

News of the vulnerability can’t have come at a worse time for those still running Windows XP.

With Microsoft officially ending support for it in April this year, even when a fix for this issue is released the update won’t be made available to the estimated 125 million hold-outs still running the aged OS.

As such the advice from the US and UK computer security agencies is even more stark: don’t use the browser at all.


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Original US Dept of Homeland security:


Free eBook on Advanced Linux Programming


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Download the free eBook:  “Advanced Linux Programming

1 Advanced Unix Programming with Linux
2 Writing Good GNU/Linux Software
3 Processes
4 Threads
5 Interprocess Communication
6 Mastering Linux
7 The /proc File System
8 Linux System Calls
9 Inline Assembly Code
10 Security
11 A Sample GNU/Linux Application
12 Other Development Tools
13 Low Level I/O
14 Table of Signals
15 Online Resources
16 Open Publication License Version 1.0
17 The GNU General Public License

Link :


Pay for Windows when you dont use it? No says court


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Lenovo ordered to pay €1920 for making French laptop buyer pay for Windows too

The court based its judgment on a European Union directive, which campaigners hope will make the ruling applicable elsewhere.

Marcel Tendron said that this court judgment could open the doors for further claims.

A French laptop buyer has won a refund from Lenovo after a four-year legal battle over the cost of a Windows license he didn’t want. The judgment could open the way for PC buyers elsewhere in Europe to obtain refunds for bundled software they don’t want, French campaign group No More Racketware said Monday.

Stéphane Petrus bought a Lenovo 3000 N200 laptop from French retailer Cybertek in December 2007. The PC had Microsoft Windows Vista and other software installed on it, none of which Petrus wanted, so he sought a refund from Lenovo under a French law forbidding the sale of one product to be tied to the sale of another. In November 2008, the court rejected his request, telling him that if he didn’t want to pay for the copy of Windows, he should have returned the PC.

The judgment was overturned by the Court of Cassation two years later on appeal, and sent back to the court in Aix en Provence for retrial, on the grounds that the lower court had not considered whether the case was covered by the provisions of the 2005 European Union directive on unfair commercial practices.

After reconsidering the case, on Jan. 9, Judge Jean-Marie Dubouloz ordered Lenovo to pay Petrus legal costs of €1,000 (around US$1,300), damages of €800 and to refund the cost of the Windows license. Petrus had estimated the cost of the software at €404.81, but the court found that excessive, given that he had paid €597 for the PC and software together. Observing that “it is commonly accepted that the price of a piece of software represents 10 percent to 25 percent of the price of a computer,” the court ordered Lenovo to reimburse Petrus €120 for the software.

The campaign group No More Racketware welcomed the ruling, saying it symbolized the crumbling of the bundling of hardware and software in France. But more significantly, the group said, the ruling was founded on a European directive regulating unfair commercial practices, opening up the possibility that it could set a legal precedent in other E.U. countries too.

Frédéric Cuif, attorney for Petrus, wrote in a blog posting that the ruling was a step in the right direction, although he would have appreciated something less terse.


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First Heartbleed ‘Hacker’ Arrested And Charged

A man accused of exploiting the Heartbleed bug to steal information on hundreds of people will appear in court later.

Stephen Arthuro Solis-Reyes, 19, is the first person to be charged in connection with the major internet security flaw.

Federal police in Canada say they arrested Solis-Reyes at his home in London, Ontario.

He has been charged with mischief and the unauthorised use of a computer to steal data from the Canada Revenue Agency’s (CRA) website.

Police said Solis-Reyes “extracted private information held by the CRA” by exploiting the security vulnerability.

The CRA said 900 social insurance numbers – similar to National Insurance numbers – were stolen last week.

Its website was closed for several days as a result.

Police said it took four days to track down the alleged culprit, adding that his computer equipment has been seized and the investigation is ongoing.

The so-called Heartbleed flaw in online encryption software OpenSSL allows hackers to eavesdrop on online communications, steal data, impersonate websites and unlock encrypted data.

OpenSSL is commonly used to protect passwords, credit card numbers and other data sent via the internet.


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Ubuntu One falls from the clouds


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I’ve been a huge advocate of Ubuntu for as long as I can remember. As I watched Canonical grow the distribution into something that could easily become a household name, I felt they could do no wrong. Canonical even shifted their focus to convergence in order to include the largest growing market in technology — mobile. Their plan has been (for some time now) to merge the desktop, the tablet, and the phone into one cohesive whole. They had all the infrastructure there, including Ubuntu One, which was one of the more seamless cloud storage services available.

I have used Ubuntu One since its inception. I purchased extra storage early on and never stopped using it. I tried other cloud storage services and always came back to Ubuntu One. Why? It was easily configured to work how I wanted, it was fast, and it was seamlessly integrated into my favorite operating system. Yes, it had its share of hiccups, but what service doesn’t? And the Ubuntu One Music Store made purchasing and syncing music as simple as it gets.

But as of June 1st, 2014, syncing will stop. On July 31st, 2014, all data will be wiped. Ubuntu One will be no more.

The reason for this shutdown is quite clear — Canonical simply can’t afford it. With Google offering 100 GB for $1.99/month, no one can compete. But there’s a hole in the fiscal logic that Canonical will have to very quickly patch. That hole is the shape of a smartphone. With Canonical set to release their first ever smartphone, they’ll have to come up with (or partner with) a cloud service well before its release. That means a possible change in codebase or design. If the Ubuntu Phone is released without the ability to connect to a cloud service, the device will fail. Why? Have we become that reliant on the cloud already? In a word, yes.

Imagine a smartphone trapped within itself, unable to easily sync data between devices. Your only recourse for sharing is to email, SMS, or (shudder) FTP documents. How would a smartphone of that nature succeed? It won’t.

Of course, this could be as simple as Canonical partnering with, say, Google Drive, Dropbox, or SpiderOak to get an instant, well-supported cloud service for the Ubuntu Phone. But it has to be considered a must-have feature for the Ubuntu Phone.

Here’s an interesting bit of information: Without the aid of a cloud computing service, average mobile users would lose 240 productive hours per year.

That doesn’t necessarily pertain specifically to a cloud storage service, but storage plays a huge role in the world of the smartphone (and tablet). Those devices have very limited storage, and most users use said devices on the road to keep them connected to family and work. Without a cloud storage service, the ability to share and work with saved documents becomes a logistical nightmare.

This is something Canonical must resolve immediately.


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Ubuntu ‘highest score’ in UK gov security test


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Ubuntu Linux scores the highest in a security assessment of end user computer devices by CESG, the UK’s government’s information security arm, reports Canonical, the software firm behind this Linux distribution. CESG in October last year published its security guidance for laptops, desktops, tablets and smartphones. Comparing the results, Canonical on 10 January concludes its Ubuntu Linux is “the only operating system that passes as many as 9 out of 12 requirements without any significant risks.”

“This is roughly equivalent to a standard set of best practice security features”, Canonical writes in its summary of the 9 CESG guidance reports. “Any enterprise would be interested in implementing these to make sure that information is not leaked from their organisation.”

CESG writes that its online guidance “is designed to help UK public sector security architects, system administrators and end-users as they deploy and use the latest laptops, desktops, tablets and smartphones.” The guidance “provides advice to those deploying devices by providing details on how particular platforms can be configured to achieve the key security recommendations”.

The department is part of Government Communications Headquarters, one of the UK’s intelligence agencies.

Its official

Apart from its review of Ubuntu Linux, it looked at the use of the open source system Android for mobile devices. CESG also published reports for several proprietary operating systems, used for PCs and mobile devices.

In its guidance on Ubuntu, CESG writes that the Linux distribution can be used for accessing ‘official’ email, for creating, editing, reviewing and commenting on ‘official’ documents and for accessing the ‘official’ intranet resources, the internet and other web-resources.


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