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12.18.15

EPO Irrelevancy, Two Decades to be Granted an EPO Patent, Outrage Over Patents on Plants in EPO

Posted in Europe, Marketing, Patents at 4:07 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Besieged from many directions, the EPO can’t just ignore bad news, only attempt to bury these by manufacturing ‘good’ (somewhat faked) messages to be embedded in news sites

EPO PR

Summary: A roundup of this week’s news (with focus on late week in particular), serving to show what the EPO’s management is really up against when it comes to shifting public opinion

Benoît Battistelli’s EPO has paid truly outrageous amounts of money to seed the press with positive publicity. It’s more or less clear why Battistelli wants and needs that. The EPO has become a byword for gross institutional abuse not just in Europe but internationally. Battistelli paid nearly a million dollars for an international firm (based in Washington) to whitewash the EPO in a period of one year. That’s almost $100,000 a month in out-of-the-ordinary (additional) PR budget. Good use of budget? What next, private limousines for Battistelli? There are rumours that he wants these too, having gotten tired of just private bodyguards.

Battistelli’s focus (as of late) on PR has been rather gross or crude. The greenwashing aside (it’s now a fortnight old), there is the “compliance” spin right now. Here is a new puff piece derived from this EPO spin, as covered here the other day. What is this, “media presence” again?

“The EPO has become a byword for gross institutional abuse not just in Europe but internationally.”Let’s look at some real news, not regurgitation of official press releases (seeded in epo.org and probably sent en masse to thousands of lazy journalists all across Europe). After the press release about the Unitary Patent (which the EPO openly lobbies for) we even found this article whose headline can be translated into “Unitary patent system in the EU on the spot” (according to EPO). Is this the desired outcome of the PR campaign? Either way, it only tells part of the story and is an effort at self-fulfilling prophecies.

Days ago in PTAB Watch we spotted this article which said: “With respect to the European patent, despite the acknowledgement by the PTAB that laws and rules are different in Europe, and a previous PTAB decision (Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. v. Emerachem Holdings, LLC, Case IPR2014-01557, slip op. at 15 (PTAB Mar. 16, 2015) (Paper 13)) that held that whatever happened in the European Patent Office (“EPO”) is essentially irrelevant, the Board determined that the European prosecution history evidence was probative of whether a cited reference is analogous art to the patent under review, and admitted the evidence for this limited purpose. The Board also determined that the post-dated publications submitted in District Court litigation that discussed terms and features recited in the claims were relevant to show how the Patent Owner had been interpreting its claims during proceedings to enforce the patent.”

“The thing about the EPO is, it’s going nowhere fast and heading into irrelevancy.”The significance of this in light the recent events and the context (see full article for details) is that there’s not much respect for the EPO’s judgment. As the article put it, “whatever happened in the European Patent Office (“EPO”) is essentially irrelevant” (irrelevancy or irrelevance imply there is no perceived superiority over the decisions or judgments in the US).

The thing about the EPO is, it’s going nowhere fast and heading into irrelevancy. Battistelli has accelerated this by orders of magnitude because the dysfunction increased in many areas (or aspects) and new areas of dispute emerged; it used to be mostly about patent scope. Not many people would bother pursuing patents at the EPO unless it maintains a high enough quality to justify the high cost. The EPO charges a lot of money (application and renewal fees from applicants) for several examiners to examine together/simultaneously, but the Office still rushes the process (speed over accuracy). No wonder EPO patents such as those granted to Apple are later -- once scrutinised by a court -- get invalidated. It serves to show that Battiselli’s approach shames the Office and harms its reputation.

“19 years to be granted a patent!”Eversheds International, an international legal practice, mentioned the EPO a couple of times yesterday [1, 2], reminding us of Baxter's notorious patent application at the EPO.

Eversheds wrote: “The patent was only granted by the European Patent Office (EPO) on 27 November 2013, despite having been filed on 9 July 1994, with a priority date of 19 July 1993. The extraordinarily long examination stage (19 years), meant that the period of effective patent protection was less than 1 year. Had a SPC been granted, its duration would have been approximately 3.5 years, a highly desirable extension to the term of patent protection.”

Got that?

“In Twitter too we were told by lawyers about patents which took two decades to process, so the above is not an isolated incident.”19 years to be granted a patent! Some people complain about applications taking ten years. In Twitter too we were told by lawyers about patents which took two decades to process, so the above is not an isolated incident. People right here in the UK experience the same thing when they apply at the EPO.

More interesting in the media right now is actually the response of (real) journalists to this statement from the Parliament. The EPO is under attack from the European Parliament because it compromised patent scope/quality for the sake of short-term profit.

One new article says: “A ban on the patenting of products obtained by conventional breeding techniques, such as crossing, is essential to sustain innovation, food security and small businesses, says a non-legislative resolution voted by the European Parliament on 17 December.”

“This is a good example of patent scope gone awry for the sake of profit and protectionism for large corporations such as Monsanto.”EPO is being shamed in this article, which is one among many (some non-English sites have covered this too). EUbusiness wrote about it and noted that “No Patents on Seeds! is an international coalition of civil society organisations. It recently published a report containing an overview of patents granted by the EPO and a legal analysis. The report further highlights the need for more political action.

“The call made by the international coalition No Patents on Seeds! to stop these patents has the support of several hundred organisations all over Europe. The coalition No Patents on Seeds! is supported by Arche Noah (Austria), Bionext (Netherlands), The Berne Declaration (Switzerland), GeneWatch (UK), Greenpeace, Misereor (Germany), Development Fund (Norway), NOAH (Denmark), No Patents on Life (Germany), ProSpecieRara (Switzerland), Red de Semillas (Spain), Rete Semi Rurali (Italy), Reseau Semences Paysannes (France) and Swissaid (Switzerland). They are all calling for a revision of European Patent Law to exclude breeding material, breeding processes, plants and animals, their characteristics, their genetic components, the harvest and food derived thereof from patentability.”

“The latter involves Gillette, so we cannot help recalling the intervention of Željko Topić regarding razor blades in Croatia.”This is a good example of patent scope gone awry for the sake of profit and protectionism for large corporations such as Monsanto. Some companies are now spreading press releases about EPO patents on drugs and there are articles about US patents as they’re being used for protectionism and monopoly (to protect a notorious business model). The latter involves Gillette, so we cannot help recalling the intervention of Željko Topić regarding razor blades in Croatia.

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