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10.02.15

Microsoft’s Secret Special Relationship With EPO Illustrates Serious Corruption at Microsoft and the EPO

Posted in Europe, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Patents at 4:00 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

EPO and Microsoft

Summary: A big story about the EPO and Microsoft working in a sort of collusion-type setup so as to serve Microsoft’s patent agenda, which involves aggression, even against European software that is Free (as in freedom)

AS ANYONE who has read this blog for a while ought to know (even based on yesterday's post, which is very hot in Reddit right now), Microsoft viciously attacks its competition — including Free/libre software such as GNU/Linux — using software patents, even in Europe (recall the Dutch company TomTom for instance) where software patents are in principle not legal. Now we know why the EPO lets that be. It very much affects Free software and Linux, which Techrights is principally about. It also helps show how Microsoft’s dirty tricks continue, carrying on behind closed doors; Microsoft — like the EPO — thinks it is above the law.

Days ago we learned about Microsoft’s ‘special’ relationship with the EPO under Battistelli’s lead. We kept quiet about it because the security of our sources is paramount. It reminded us of Microsoft’s ‘special’ relationship with Sarkozy et al. Well, now that it’s out (Merpel posted fragments from it at 4AM this morning), we are ready to show what several sources have independently leaked to us. Comparing the material from different sources helps verify authenticity. It is largely (but not only) based on the latest SUEPO publication. There is an article about the investigation of Control Risks in there, but we’ll leave that for another article as it deals with a separate subject.

As we noted last week and also yesterday (noting that Microsoft had begun lobbying regarding the UPC, trying to shape European law despite being a US company), there is serious corruption here and it helps remind everyone in Europe who the EPO really serves. It’s all about multinational/foreign giants, not European companies (let alone European people). The EPO is grossly discriminating against small companies. It’s truly an abomination. Corruption seems to be rampant across Europe — contrary to common belief outside the EU.

Rather than bore readers with repetition of arguments and a story, we are going to highlight parts of the article from Merpel and remind readers that Microsoft exploits software patents to launch legal battles against Linux and Free software-friendly companies, despite software patents being illegal in Europe.

From the first part of Merpel’s article:

EPO queue jumping part 1 – Don’t be an SME”

“Here’s an interesting thought experiment about how patent offices should operate. Two patent applications are pending at the European Patent Office (EPO). Imagine that one was filed several years ago by Microsoft, and the other was filed at the same time by (say) an Italian SME which files “only” 10 patent applications per annum.”

[...]

“However, this pilot programme seems different, both in terms of purpose and in terms of execution. There is something imbalanced in having high-ranking EPO officials make a pilgrimage to the premises of large applicants “to ensure that we do not lose workload market share”. There is an element of bending the knee involved that makes Merpel uncomfortable.”

[...]

“The implications of this are astounding. Smaller applicants are being discriminated against because they don’t have the clout of threatening to pull their business from the EPO. But if you’re a major contributor to the EPO’s coffers, your cases will get priority at the expense of smaller applicants.

“Merpel hopes this is all untrue, but it has the “stranger than fiction” quality that is characteristic of many EPO stories that have proved accurate. Anyone who knows more and who can comply with the normal rules of comment etiquette, please do tell!”

Here are the relevant original bits:

Changing priorities in DG1 Earlier this year the Office issued two internal memos entitled “Closer Contacts with Major Applicants”. The reason given was to

“foster a better esprit de service, not least to ensure that we do not lose workload market share to other major Offices”.

We cite further:

“The ICT cluster has had close contact with both Canon and Microsoft recently and their experience prompted this pilot… The pilot started on 1.4 for ten major applicants…. For the 10 applicants, there will be one DG1 director in direct contact with one person in the company… The idea is that the DG1 director will be in regular contact … with his counterpart from the applicant and that at least once in the pilot year there will be a high level visit (PD, directors, DG2 and DG5 representatives where necessary) to the company.”

And also:

One of the early off-shoots was that directors and examiners were gently reminded that the Office had entered in a closer cooperation project with Microsoft, so could the examiners please take care of a list of [overdue] Microsoft files for which the deadline [for the examiner to issue a communication] had expired? We obviously have no problems with reminders to examiners to prioritise files that are overdue. But such reminders should cover all files that are similarly overdue, not just those of a specific applicant.

Merpel did a fine job explaining what’s wrong with the above and went on to commenting on the EPO's corruption of French media, publishing part two just 3 minutes later (at 4AM her time). To quote the outset: “Part 1 of this guide to getting your application examined earlier started with a thought experiment: should a multinational’s application get examiner more quickly than an SMEs. The answer is no, but the EPO may be subtly reminding examiners to prioritise such files nonetheless at the expense of smaller applicants. Now for an even easier thought experiment. You can do this one with your eyes closed, which of course is the recommended approach for all thought experiments anyway. Two applicants (Señor Lopez from Barcelona and Monsieur Durand from Marseille) file their patent applications at the EPO on the same day. Both applications are in the same technical area. Also, both are first filings for which the EPO is committed to providing a search report and written opinion at an early stage.”

We recommend Merpel’s original article about this. As always, with the pseudo-anonymity offered by Google’s Blogspot (in the NSA PRISM programme, which isn’t too far from Control Risks staff), there are also many comments there, sometimes from EPO staff.

IP Kat beat Techrights to it regarding this scandal not just due to lack of time (we have returned from vacation) but because we are careful not to compromise sources. IP Kat thankfully reported this corruption before we did, so if anyone gets caught, it won’t be our fault. We thought twice before publishing anything at all about this. If any of our readers can share information of value with us, please ensure anonymity (a lot more important than encryption in this case), then message roy@schestowitz.com. Provided the information does not put anyone at risk, we promise to give it the attention it deserves.

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