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04.24.15

EPO Management is Trying Hard to Appease Its Critics While Pushing Forth Unitary Patent Agenda

Posted in Europe, Patents at 11:08 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Lives of ordinary Europeans silently compromised

Canal and house

Summary: The European Patent Office and European Commission promote the agenda of large multinational corporations (at the expense or European citizens) and critics are being kept at bay

Ahead of the May 5th Unitary Patent decision we have been hoping for stronger action and a push/effort that puts the underlying issues in European media. Sadly, however, it has been quiet on this front. Secrecy plays a role in this relative calm. If Europeans knew what was going on and what was really at stake, they would be up in arms, marching in the streets everywhere (hundreds of millions of them). Ignorance — induced by silence or passivity — works in favour of the rich looters. Most people are just too lazy or too apathetic to study these issues, which tie into several other issues that do in fact have Europeans marching in the streets (many protests reported last week and this week).

For the uninitiated, the Unitary Patent can lead to software patents (and with them patent trolls) in Europe. The Unitary Patent offers a lot to large corporations and just about nothing to ordinary European citizens. It’s corporations-led and plutocrats-steered globalisation — like that which we find in TPP and similar treaties that have nothing to do with ‘freedom’ or ‘trade’, just passage of wealth from the bottom to the top (trickle-up effect).

Over in the United States, software patents continue getting weaker, but it doesn’t prevent opportunists from making self-promotional noise. Here is press releases celebrating software patents earlier this month and another couple of brags about software patents. As we shall show another day, however, the real trend is the demise of software patents, especially once they reach the court. This is why the vocation of patent courts in Europe matters so much. It’s a hugely important decision, but the public is not contacting European officials.

In the US, even automobile companies (remember where the first software patent came from, granted to Martin Goetz) acquire patents on software. As this month’s report from “Fortune” Magazine put it, “the automaker has also been getting into the software space, according to patenting data, which shows that GM filed 592 software patents over the past five years, accounting for over 15% of their patenting activity.”

Well, Europe has a large automobile industry (engines manufacturing for example) and with it there’s the risk of patents on software creeping in. Some companies sure are working on it and amid USPTO misconduct (glorifying patents by manipulating the process; see this related new propaganda from patent lawyers’ media) we should keep alert. Those who are familiar with controversial ‘trade’ treaties in the EU ought to know by now the role of automobile giants in selling out European citizens.

The EPO, whose current management is dominated by large and greedy corporations, increasingly copies the USPTO for increased private profits, introduced by poor quality patents that include software patents.

Referring to the Unitary Patent, Dr. Glyn Moody now writes that it shows “Why is EU Pushing Itself into Irrelevance” (he frames this as a question).

“Although I haven’t written about the Unitary Patent for a while now,” Moody says, “it hasn’t gone away – alas. Instead, it is still grinding through the ratification process that is necessary before it comes into force. There are many questions about how it will work in practice, and whether it will offer any real benefits to European companies. So it’s strange that the European Commission recently came out with a total puff-piece on the subject, which tries to convince people that it’s all going to be great. As you will see if you click on that link, that puff-piece also seems to have disappeared, which is rather telling (if anyone finds it again, please let me know.)”

Moody refers to text which can still be found here. He concludes as follows: “Assuming the Unitary Patent ever comes into being – and a legal challenge from Spain at the Court of Justice of the European Union is just one reason why it might not – the new Unitary Patent and the Unified Patent Court that will rule on disputes are both essentially outside the control of the European Commission, existing in a bizarre political limbo that is one of the most problematic aspects of the whole idea, as I’ve noted before. Leaving aside the fact that many statements on the vanished page are/were simply wrong, the larger question has to be: why on earth is the European Commission pushing an idea that will not only marginalise its own role, but make it highly likely that European companies will be forced to start paying an exorbitant patent troll tax like their American colleagues? One, moreover, that will be particularly problematic for the open source world which has few resources to fight back.”

It sure looks like the European Commission, which has been defending the EPO (and by extension software patents in Europe), is working hard to make the Unitary Patent a reality. This is really bad. The only thing worse is that SUEPO has been almost silenced and EPO staff has not been so active in fighting back as of late. Based on this April 23rd press release: “At a round table meeting jointly initiated by the Chairman of the Administrative Council, Jesper Kongstad, and EPO President Benoît Battistelli, the SUEPO and FFPE entered into a process which could eventually lead to their formal recognition as trade unions at the Office for the first time in EPO history. The meeting’s aim was to re-launch social dialogue to overcome disputes that have arisen over the inner reform agenda of the EPO.”

This does deal with some rights of staff, but it still does not deal with corruption in the EPO, appointment of criminals, expansion of patent scope, etc. The EPO’s management not only crushes EPO staff (leading many to suicide); it is crushing top people from the Enlarged Board of Appeal and on April 21st we learned from the EPO’s site about bizarre amendments that include: “In proceedings under Article 112 EPC the Board may, on its own initiative or at the written, reasoned request of the President of the European Patent Office, invite him to comment in writing or orally on questions of general interest which arise in the course of proceedings pending before it. The parties shall be entitled to submit their observations on the President’s comments.”

Why is the EPO run like a tyrannical regime where the so-called ‘President’ (with capital P) can exercise total power and intervene even in the processes of peripheral and presumably independent bodies? The EPO is corrupt and to make matters worse, it now seems as though many who are supposed to act as regulating forces are now complicit in making it more powerful — empowered to help the super-rich at the expense of everyone else.

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