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02.04.16

Company Known as European Patent Office Provides Tips on How to Patent Software in Europe

Posted in Europe, Patents at 4:45 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

European Patent Office at CeBIT

Summary: The European Patent Office (EPO) uses its attendance at CeBIT, which is a corporate expo, to promote software patents in spite of the European Patent Convention (EPC)

Yesterday morning at around 9AM (CET) the EPO’s Twitter account made it known that it would attend a corporate expo, CeBIT. I quickly linked to that, instantaneously criticising what seemed to be affirmation of the EPO’s now-notorious corporate tendencies. Shortly thereafter we also got mail alerting us or notifying us of the fact that the EPO would be attending CeBIT. The rogue thing, however, wasn’t the attendance itself but the part which said “Company profile” (yes, company, as it’s corporate). It also said “Product categories” (yes, product) and it specifies: “Services and consulting relating to patent protection and trademark protection, intellectual property” (actually, intellectual property is just a vague umbrella term which encompasses different laws, including trademarks, copyrights, and patents, which are inherently different things that oughtn’t be lumped together and treated similarly).

“How low will they stoop in an effort to artificially inflate the number of patents?”The most outrageous thing is how the EPO describes itself. It’s short and bizarre. It’s right there in CeBIT’s site and it talks about absolutely nothing except software patents. It’s a bizarre introduction which sounds more like a lobbyist’s statement, not a mission statement: “Patents for software? – As the patent office for Europe, we support innovation, competitiveness and economic growth across Europe through our commitment to high quality and efficient services delivered under the European Patent Convention (EPC). Under the EPC, a computer program claimed “as such” is not a patentable invention Patents are not granted merely for program listings. For a patent to be granted for a computer-implemented invention, a technical problem has to be solved in a novel and non-obvious manner.”

That takes some nerve to say, especially Brimelow’s notorious “as such”. And notice that they say “program listing”, which, as Benjamin Henrion explained it to me yesterday, just means printout of source code (printing to make it “physical”), then sticking it up on a wall. Is the EPO actively encouraging people to get around exclusion of software patents and giving them tips? Is the EPO so blatant and shameless about ignoring the EPC? How low will they stoop in an effort to artificially inflate the number of patents? Excessive patenting can do more harm than good, for obvious reasons. This includes software patents.

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