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For Some Reason, BMW Is Asking For More Time To Oppose The Latest Gwen Stacey Character Trademark

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If you feel like you're about to get a silly trademark story, your spidey-sense is working. We'll keep this short and sweet, but this whole thing centers around Gwen Stacy, otherwise known as Spider-Woman. But because this is Marvel we're talking about, there is also something of an alternate universe version of Gwen Stacy, in which she went by the name Spider-Gwen, but has more recently had that character rebooted as Ghost-Spider.Confused yet? Well, it's about to get worse.When Marvel applied for a trademark on the Ghost-Spider name, two different companies asked for more time to oppose the marks. One opposition likely makes some sense and might be rather limited to the sports equipment and apparel markets that Marvel asked for in addition to comic books. That one comes from golf club manufacturer Taylor Made, which happens to make a putter line called Ghost Spider, with the apparel to match it.

It's not an objection to the comic book trademark, but rather to the more wider ranging products that Marvel is claiming a trademark for. Maybe Marvel might agree to a change in category or working?
Basically, Marvel applied for the Ghost-Spider mark for every market under the sun and Taylor Made appears to only want to challenge the registration for the markets in which it operates. Makes a fair amount of sense.So why is BMW also opposing the mark?
John G. Froemming and Jessica D. Bradley, lawyers at Washington DC legal firm Jonas Day represent Bayerische Motoren Werke Aktiengesellschaft – better known as BMW. And they have issued a request to the United States Patent and Trademark Office for an extension of time to oppose the trademark.
There's no real detail to go on, so we're left to speculate exactly what BMW's problem with the Ghost-Spider name would be. The folks at Bleeding Cool think they've figured it out. But if they're right, BMW doesn't have a valid opposition.
BMW has the Spyder models. And it owns Rolls-Royce, with the Ghost models.
Two different brands under two different makes of car does not customer confusion make. If that really is the story here, it would be much better if the folks at BMW didn't waste everyone's time, because that's the kind of opposition that will get tossed immediately.Meanwhile, maybe the folks at Marvel can dream up a few more alternate realities, including one where trademark law wasn't so completely busted.

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posted at: 12:37am on 19-Sep-2018
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Congressional Research Service Reports Now Officially Publicly Available

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For many, many years we've been writing about the ridiculousness of the Congressional Research Service's reports being kept secret. If you don't know, CRS is a sort of in-house think tank for Congress, that does, careful, thoughtful, non-partisan research on a variety of topics (sometimes tasked by members of Congress, sometimes of its own volition). The reports are usually quite thorough and free of political nonsense. Since the reports are created by the federal government, they are technically in the public domain, but many in Congress (including many who work at CRS itself) have long resisted requests to make those works public. Instead, we were left with relying on members of Congress themselves to occasionally (and selectively) share reports with the public, rather than giving everyone access to the reports.Every year or so, there were efforts made to make all of that research available to the public, and it kept getting rejected. Two years ago, two members of Congress agreed to share all of the reports they had access to with a private site put together by some activists and think tanks, creating EveryCRSReport.com, which was a useful step forward. At the very least, we've now had two years to show that, when these reports are made public, the world does not collapse (many people within CRS feared that making the reports public would lead to more political pressure).Earlier this year, in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018, there was a nice little line item to officially make CRS reports publicly available.And, this week, it has come to pass. As announced by Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden, there is now an official site to find CRS reports at crsreports.congress.gov. It appears that the available catalog is still limited, but they're hoping to expand backwards to add older reports to the system (a few quick test searches only shows fairly recent reports). But all new reports will be added to the database.

The result is a new public website for CRS reports based on the same search functionality that Congress uses - designed to be as user friendly as possible - that allows reports to be found by common keywords. We believe the site will be intuitive for the public to use and will also be easily updated with enhancements made to the congressional site in the future.Moving forward, all new or updated reports will be added to the website as they are made available to Congress. The Library is also working to make available the back catalog of previously published reports as expeditiously as possible.
This is a big deal. The public pays over $100 million every year to have this research done, and all of it is in the public domain. Starting now, we can actually read most of it, and don't need to rely on leaks to find this useful, credible research.

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posted at: 12:37am on 19-Sep-2018
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Software Patch Claimed To Allow Aadhaar's Security To Be Bypassed, Calling Into Question Biometric Database's Integrity

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Earlier this year, we wrote about what seemed to be a fairly serious breach of security at the world's largest biometric database, India's Aadhaar. The Indian edition of Huffington Post now reports on what looks like an even more grave problem:

The authenticity of the data stored in India's controversial Aadhaar identity database, which contains the biometrics and personal information of over 1 billion Indians, has been compromised by a software patch that disables critical security features of the software used to enrol new Aadhaar users, a three month-long investigation by HuffPost India reveals.
According to the article, the patch can be bought for just Rs 2,500 (around $35). The easy-to-install software removes three critical security features of Aadhaar:
The patch lets a user bypass critical security features such as biometric authentication of enrolment operators to generate unauthorised Aadhaar numbers.The patch disables the enrolment software's in-built GPS security feature (used to identify the physical location of every enrolment centre), which means anyone anywhere in the world -- say, Beijing, Karachi or Kabul -- can use the software to enrol users.The patch reduces the sensitivity of the enrolment software's iris-recognition system, making it easier to spoof the software with a photograph of a registered operator, rather than requiring the operator to be present in person.
As the Huffington Post article explains, creating a patch that is able to circumvent the main security features in this way was possible thanks to design choices made early on in the project. The unprecedented scale of the Aadhaar enrollment process -- so far around 1.2 billion people have been given an Aadhaar number and added to the database -- meant that a large number of private agencies and village-level computer kiosks were used for registration. Since connectivity was often poor, the main software was installed on local computers, rather than being run in the cloud. The patch can be used by anyone with local access to the computer system, and simply involves replacing a folder of Java libraries with versions lacking the security checks.The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), the government body responsible for the Aadhaar project, has responded to the Huffington Post article, but in a rather odd way: as a Donald Trump-like stream of tweets. The Huffington Post points out: "[the UIDAI] has simply stated that its systems are completely secure without any supporting evidence." One of the Aadhaar tweets is as follows:
It is because of this stringent and robust system that as on date more that 50,000 operators have been blacklisted, UIDAI added.
The need to throw 50,000 operators off the system hardly inspires confidence in its overall security. What makes things worse is that the Indian government seems determined to make Aadhaar indispensable for Indian citizens who want to deal with it in any way, and to encourage business to do the same. Given the continuing questions about Aadhaar's overall security and integrity, that seems unwise, to say the least.Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or identi.ca, and +glynmoody on Google+

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posted at: 12:36am on 18-Sep-2018
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Thanks To ISP Bahnhof, We Know Just How Crazy Copyright Trolling In Sweeden Is Getting

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For some time, Swedish ISP Bahnhof has been sounding the alarm over copyright trolling practices in its home country. While cynics will note that Bahnhof has absolutely made its refusal to hand over customer data a central part of its marketing messaging, the ISP has also made a point to publicly track copyright trolling court cases, threat letters, and pretty much everything else related to copyright trolling in Sweden. And, frankly, it's due pretty much solely to Bahnhof's tracking efforts that we now know just how insanely worse copyright trolling in Sweden has gotten in just the last year or so.

According to Swedish Internet provider Bahnhof, which keeps track of these cases on a dedicated website, records are being broken this year.“Thousands of Swedes have received threatening letters from law firms which accuse them of illegal downloading. They are asked to pay a sum of money, ranging from a couple of thousand Swedish Kronors up to several thousand, to avoid being brought to justice,” Bahnhof Communicator Carolina Lindahl notes. “During 2018 the extortion business has increased dramatically. The numbers have already exceeded last year’s figures even though four months still remain.”
The over 35,000 individuals targeted totals more than the number of targets in the last two years combined. It also totals more than all of the filesharing cases in the United States and Canada combined. And, in case the point isn't sinking in just yet, that's insane. And, again, while Bahnhof today is using all of this data in its messaging to the public as to why they should be Bahnhof customers, the company's long-term goal is actually to get the government involved to clarify the law and disallow this business practice.
“It’s time to reverse the trend before another 100, 1000 or 10,000 individuals have to join the growing group of victims. The practice of sending extortion letters to internet users solely based on IP-addresses does not meet any requirements of legal certainty and must be stopped,” Bahnhof’s Communicator stresses.“We want to see a reform of copyright law aimed at promoting artistic creation instead of the commercial interests of the copyright industry.”
It remains to be seen just how high the victim count must go before the Swedish government indeed does its job.

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posted at: 12:36am on 18-Sep-2018
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