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16 Mar 23:11

SoftBank Owned Patent Troll, Using Monkey Selfie Law Firm, Sues To Block Covid-19 Testing, Using Theranos Patents

by Mike Masnick

Honestly, I wasn't sure how to begin this story or how to fit all the insanity into the title. It's a story involving patents, patent trolling, Covid-19, Theranos, and even the company that brought us all WeWork: SoftBank. Oh, and also Irell & Manella, the same law firm that once claimed it could represent a monkey in a copyright infringement dispute. You see, Irell & Manella has now filed one of the most utterly bullshit patent infringement lawsuits you'll ever see. They are representing "Labrador Diagnostics LLC" a patent troll which does not seem to exist other than to file this lawsuit, and which claims to hold the rights to two patents (US Patents 8,283,155 and 10,533,994) which, you'll note, were originally granted to Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos -- the firm that shut down in scandal over medical testing equipment that appears to have been oversold and never actually worked. Holmes is still facing federal charges of wire fraud over the whole Theranos debacle.

However, back in 2018, the remains of Theranos sold its patents to Fortress Investment Group. Fortress Investment Group is a SoftBank-funded massive patent troll. You may remember the name from the time last fall when Apple and Intel sued the firm, laying out how Fortress is a sort of uber-patent troll, gathering up a bunch of patents and then shaking down basically everyone. Lovely, right?

So, this SoftBank-owned patent troll, Fortress, bought up Theranos patents, and then set up this shell company, "Labrador Diagnostics," which decided that right in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic it was going to sue one of the companies making Covid-19 tests, saying that its test violates those Theranos patents, and literally demanding that the court bar the firm from making those Covid-19 tests.

A bit more background here: the company they're suing, BioFire, recently launched three Covid-19 tests built off of the company's FilmArray technology. And that's what "Labrador" (read: SoftBank) is now suing over. From the lawsuit:

The Accused Products embody at least claim 1 of the '155 Patent, literally or under the doctrine of equivalents, as set forth below. The further descriptions below, which are based on publicly available information, are preliminary examples and are non-limiting. On information and belief, the FilmArray 2.0, FilmArray EZ, and FilmArray Torch devices operate, together with the FilmArray pouches and software, similarly as pertinent to the non-limiting examples set forth below. On information and belief, the FilmArray EZ operates in substantially the same manner as the FilmArray 2.0, and as such is not separately addressed below. For the purposes of infringement, Plaintiff Labrador's non-limiting examples relating to the FilmArray 2.0 are equally applicable to the FilmArray EZ, albeit with use of at least the RP EZ Panel designed for use with the FilmArray EZ. See BioFire Diagnostics Website, filmarray-respiratory-panel-ez/.

So, let's summarize: The firm that basically created the mess that is WeWork by dumping billions of dollars into the company, also owns a patent troll that bought up the patents from the sham medical testing firm Theranos, and is now using those patents to sue one of the few diagnostics companies that is actually making a Covid-19 test... in the middle of a pandemic. And, demanding the use of those tests be blocked:

That Defendants be enjoined from infringing the Asserted Patents, or if their infringement is not enjoined, that Defendants be ordered to pay ongoing royalties to Labrador for any post-judgment infringement of the Asserted Patents;

Honestly, I'm used to all sorts of awfulness, but this one piles awfulness upon awfulness, and takes it to a level of pure evil. The lawyers filing this lawsuit on behalf of "Labrador" should remember what they've done -- filing a bullshit patent trolling lawsuit, on behalf of a shell company for a notorious giant patent troll, using patents from a sham company, and using them to try to block the use of Covid-19 diagnostic tests in the middle of a pandemic. I wonder how they sleep at night. For the record, there are two law firms behind this filing. Irell & Manella is the big one, and they list out 7 different lawyers on this complaint: Morgan Chu, Alan Heinrich, Keith Orso, Adina Stohl, Dennis Courtney, Brian Weissenberg and Chaplin Carmichael. Their local firm is Farnan LLP, and the lawyers there are Brian and Michael Farnan. Morgan Chu is the big shot at Irell and runs its litigation group. He should take on much of the responsibility for this awful, awful lawsuit. Farnan LLP was formed by a former federal district court judge, Joseph Farnan, and I'll just note that 4 out of its 6 attorneys, including the two on this case have the same last name.

I understand the need for zealous representation of a client in court, but this seems even more despicable than your every day patent trolling, and people should associate these lawyers names with the truly despicable behavior on display here. Similarly, it should be a reminder of why its a good thing that the Supreme Court decided a decade and a half ago that injunctions are often inappropriate in patent cases. I know that there's an effort underway to have Congress change the law to overrule the Supreme Court decision on that point, but imagine how that would play out in this scenario, in which necessary diagnostic testing might get blocked due to some patent troll with deep pockets.

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09 Jan 14:36

Zume Is Laying Off Half Its Staff and Shuttering Its Robotic Pizza Delivery Business

by BeauHD
An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNBC: SoftBank-backed Zume is laying off 360 employees, accounting for about 50 percent of its workforce, and shuttering its robotic pizza business to focus on food packaging. SoftBank invested $375 million in Zume in 2018, giving the start-up a $1 billion valuation. Previously, Zume was valued at just $218 million and had risen $71 million in total, according to Pitchbook. Like other SoftBank-backed startups, Zume used the capital to quickly scale and increase its workforce. But, over the last year, investors have shifted their focus from "growth at all costs" to a clearer path to profitability. Zume CEO and founder Alex Garden tells CNBC that it's a difficult day for the startup, but the changes being made will focus the business on "the inventions that are showing strong commercial traction." Garden says the company is creating 100 open roles in the Source Packaging unit that employees can reapply for. Pizza Hut has been testing Zume's round boxes on a limited basis. Zume's packaging -- which the company says is covered by a number of patents -- is made of sustainably harvested plant fiber and is industrially compostable. The robot pizza company, which launched in 2015, consisted of an army of robot sauce-spreaders and trucks packed full of ovens. Garden's goal at the time was to become the "Amazon of food."

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17 Jul 20:45

Electropneus-August 7th Monthly Meeting-Industrial Cybersecurity: If it isn’t Secure, it isn’t SAFE by aeSolutions

Electropneus-August 7th Monthly Meeting-Industrial Cybersecurity: If it isn’t Secure, it isn’t SAFE by aeSolutions

ISA Houston Section August 7th Meeting RSVP Open

Topic: Industrial Cybersecurity: If it isn’t SECURE, it isn’t SAFE
Presenter: Marco Ayala, Sr. Lifecycle Services Manager – Process Safety, Automation, Controls and Cybersecurity
Location: Universal Pegasus International, 4848 Loop Central Drive Houston TX 77081
Time: 11am-1pm

Member with RSVP: $20
Member no RSVP: $25
Non-Member: $30
Click Here to RSVP for August 7th Monthly Meeting
Abstract: Industrial Cybersecurity: If it isn’t SECURE, it isn’t SAFE Process hazard assessments (PHA) are a well-established practice in process safety management. These assessments focus on failures (aka deviations) that are typically caused by equipment failures or human error. By design, PHAs do not consider cyber threats to industrial control systems (ICS). However, cyber threats represent additional failure modes that may lead to the same health, safety and environmental consequences identified in the PHA. Functional safety (i.e. ISA 84 / IEC 61511) and industrial cybersecurity standards (i.e. ISA/IEC 62443) recognize this issue and provide guidance on how to integrate these two disciplines to ensure that cyber incidents cannot impact process safety. This presentation will discuss the guidance provided in industry standards regarding ICS cyber risk assessments (aka Cyber PHA) and the benefits and business justification for performing them.
Click Here to RSVP for August 7th Monthly Meeting
Presenter Biography:
Marco Ayala is a process automation professional with over 22 years of experience working in petrochemical facilities where he engineered, operated, and maintained their process automation systems and networks. He has expertise with safety systems, advanced process control, enterprise historians and industrial network security where worked with enterprise-IT to implement a corporate PCN security solution. Marco is active in the Chemical Sector cyber security effort working alongside DHS for securing the private sector. Mr. Ayala has trained extensively with INL Idaho National Labs and is a trusted supplier of ICS vulnerability information to ICS-CERT. Marco has secured multiple chemical plants in the U.S.A. in alignment with the Chemical Facility AntiTerrorism Standards (CFATS) and has also secured facilities in the Netherlands creating the first global ICS/SCADA security operations center (SOC) based in Houston Texas

Presidents Message ISA Houston Section

Iqtidar Khan, 2019-2020

Dear ISA Houston Section members,

I welcome you all to the new term 2019-20. As we transition from the 2018-19 term, new board members take up their roles with great motivation and some current board members switch roles in the board to continue with renewed vigor. I am honored to be your new president for the term and hope to serve the section with the knowledge and experience I have gained in my global career as an Automation professional, an ISA member and an ISA volunteer. My most immediate task at hand is to ensure a smooth transition to the new term.
My ISA journey has been a rewarding one, I’ve been inspired by the community members who have devoted their time to the society and to its advancement through education, standards, publications, divisions, geographic districts and sections. I have been involved as a volunteer in many different roles in Canada and USA and have been fortunate enough to attend several ISA technical & leadership seminars, conferences, expo’s and trainings. In short, I have served & experienced ISA to a great degree before being elected as the president of ISA Houston Section.
ISA’s current, much simplified Vision, Mission and Values statement resonates with my leadership and I, with my esteemed board members, will uphold it in everything that we plan and execute during the next 12 months.

I am excited to share exciting news about some initiatives which I will be carrying forward from the previous term.
  • The updated ISA Houston Section Website will be launched in the coming weeks which will usher our section to the state-of-the-art web experience while offering better service to our growing member base.
  • A fresh section sponsorship initiative will offer corporate partnership to our long-standing partners and bring their recognition and messaging to the forefront.
Following are some of the numerous fresh initiatives that are under development for the section, please stay tuned for further details:
  • New and updated plan for Education: ISA HS will be hosting classroom trainings and bringing titles high in demand in the Gulf Coast Automation market.
  • We will expand beyond the current program meeting format by moving some of the meetings to the evenings and diversifying the topics to include ISA themed interactive and team-building task-based programs for our members.
  • Bring fresh ideas to our section’s scholarship fund-raising traditions such as the Chili and Cajun Cook-offs and the Golf Tournament. Focus will be to expand the outreach and enhance our society’s vision and mission through these events.
  • Increase the support to our student liaison team, enhance ISA HS support to annual events such as FIRST Robotics competition and the Science Fair.
  • Increase involvement and participation by all our members by spreading the knowledge about the section’s activities on more regular basis through Social Media and upgraded website.
I invite all Houston Section members to engage in their section’s calendar of events and voice their opinions via e-mail to me ( Your suggestions and opinion matter and help your elected board in shaping up our path for the term. Our main task is to serve you, the section members, so that you stay connected and involved with the Vision, Mission and Values of the society and together we take it to the next level.
I hope to hear from you!
Iqtidar Khan
President – ISA Houston Section 2019-20 
ISA Houston Section
Recognizes our Community Sponsors for Outstanding Support

Phoenix Contact
Rockwell Automation
Vector Controls & Automation Group
2019 ISA Houston Section Scholarship Golf Tournament  Winners

1st Place MRC Global-John Pirozzlol, D. Gaines, Ben Ford & J. Ittner
2nd Place Swagelok-Paul Wright, Chuck Agee, C. Mentrailer & C.Theriot
3rd Place Sunbelt Supply Co.-Alex Michelson, Vince Mezzano, Pittman Harrison, Mark McGraw
Closest to Pin: Greg Winborn
Longest Drive: Travis Barber
Click Here to see Golf Tournament Pictures
Expo & Chili Cook Off is at 70% Capacity for booth space!
Hurry and sign up now to claim your booth
Thursday November 7, 2019 
Click Here For Chili Cook Off Registration
Click Here For Chili Cook Off Registration
Renew your ISA membership or join today
@ International Society of Automation

ISA dues support your local section and open up resources to YOU!
Mark your calendar for our preliminary schedule:
August 7, 2019-Industrial Cybersecurity, aeSolutions
September 4, 2019-Program TBA
October 2, 2019-Innovations in Level, TechStar
November 6, 2019-Program TBA
November 7, 2019-Expo & Chili Cook Off
December 4, 2019-Program TBA
February 5, 2020-Ethics Night
March 1, 2020-Program TBA
March 5, 2020-Cajun Cook Off & Table Top Show
April 1, 2020-Program TBA
April 3, 2020-Scholarship Golf Tournament
May 13, 2020-Program TBA
June 3, 2020-Scholarship Night
2019-2020 ISA Houston Section Corporate Sponsorship Available!

Contact us or downlaod the form below for more details:
Amanda Hardy, Corporate Initiative Manager,
Joel Gil, Publicity Chair,
Thomas Swihart, Publicity Co-Chair,
Download Corporate Sponsorship Package
25 Jun 00:40

Cardinals Flamethrower Jordan Hicks Shredded His Pitching Elbow

by Lauren Theisen

In some MLB injury news that felt as sadly inevitable as it is disappointing, St. Louis Cardinals closer Jordan Hicks is likely out for the long-term future, as the team announced today that he tore the UCL in his right (throwing) elbow. The Cardinals said they are “determining the next course of action” for Hicks,…


06 Apr 04:38

Canonical will discontinue its Unity desktop interface, focusing on GNOME instead, and will shutter its mobile projects (Jon Brodkin/Ars Technica)

Jon Brodkin / Ars Technica:
Canonical will discontinue its Unity desktop interface, focusing on GNOME instead, and will shutter its mobile projects  —  Ubuntu phones and tablets are dead, but the desktop, server, and cloud live on.  —  Six years after making Unity the default user interface on Ubuntu desktops …

14 Jul 22:25

Become a highly employable IT specialist with this 8-part CompTIA certification training

by TechSpot Deals

Get 8 different IT certifications with this all-inclusive CompTIA training bundle, now over 90% off in the TechSpot Store.

Read Entire ArticleRead Comments

07 Mar 22:11

DeAngelo Williams Has Petty And Righteous Thoughts About Peyton Manning

by Tom Ley

Today is the day when everyone is supposed to shower Peyton Manning with praise. That’s all fine and good, but I’m personally glad that DeAngelo Williams is here to balance things out with some raw pettiness (especially since much of it comes at the expense of Pete Prisco, wearer of weird shorts ).


10 Jan 02:35

6 Books to Make You a Better Cook in 2014

by Chris Perez

This time of year I could always use a good book recommendation — particularly as I'm trying to regain the cooking mojo that appears to still be out on holiday vacation. I usually find my inspiration around the open flame of a grill, but the winter season has me hunkered down on a couch by another type of fire (with mandatory hot chocolate).

Here are some recent cookbooks I'm considering as I embark on being a more well-rounded cook.


10 Jan 02:28

When You Give Doctors Incentives To Get It Right, Rather Than To 'Do Everything', People Get Better Care For Less

by Mike Masnick
One of the biggest problems in trying to fix our insane and out of control healthcare system is the fact that the entire system has totally screwed up economics. The incentive structures are a disaster. The deeper you look at healthcare economics, the more horrific it is. Now, there are some very legitimate reasons how it ended up this way, because there's a strong argument that a purely "free market" healthcare system leads to very poor healthcare for many people who cannot afford it, and that basic healthcare is something that should be provided much more widely both because of basic human compassion and common sense, but also because there are carryover effects to an unhealthy population that effect us all broadly.

But, when you set up a system that has the incentives totally screwed up, what you end up with is what we have: a system where everything is insanely expensive for no other reason than it can be, and where the quality of healthcare is simply not that good, because there's no incentive to make it that way. Instead, there's incentives to simply add up bills as high as possible, with doctors ordering every test imaginable, and focusing on doing more, not doing what's best.

The folks over at Planet Money have an interesting podcast about some pilot programs that have come about because of Obamacare, that seek to realign the basic incentives of doctors to treat patients in the best way, rather than piling as many charges on them as possible. No matter what you think about everything else in Obamacare, it seems like these little-discussed pilot programs are an unquestionable step in the right direction.

In the Planet Money podcast, they talk about one simple way that the pilot program is having an almost immediate effect: by paying doctors a lump sum for overall treatment of a condition, and actually dinging them for errors, rather than rewarding them by allowing them to add more fees for fixing those problems, significantly fewer problems occur. The program also goes further in including the shocking idea of giving doctors feedback on how they're doing, using actual data, rather than letting them do whatever they want without consequences.

In theory, you'd hope that doctors are always seeking to do what's best for the patients, rather than what earns the most money, but it seems clear in practice that when doctors are given a little incentive to do their job better, rather than just do more, they actually do, in fact, do their job better, meaning that not only are people healthier, but the cost of the healthcare goes down. More of that, please.

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