Patents on maths, such as computer vision (my research discipline), are increasingly becoming possible under the Battistelli regime
When one’s goal is just maximising the number of patents the role model would be SIPO (China) or USPTO, where the yardstick/accomplishment is granting a patent on any bundle of paper that comes in, securing a monopoly on virtually everything under the Sun (as long as it says “technical”, “inventive”, “on a computer”, and/or “over the Internet”)
Summary: Software patents and other patents of little or no technical merit that can be physically demonstrated are now being granted by the European Patent Office, despite the demise of software patents in the United States
HERE IN Techrights we mostly focus on software patents (primary focus of the site), but there are many other problems associated with the EPO, including the use of patents against so-called ‘generic’ medicine and cancer treatments (there are various issues associated with that). IP Kat covers a story that was mentioned here the other day, stating that “European Patent No 1 313 508 protects the use of pemetrexed disodium in combination with vitamin B12 or a pharmaceutical derivative thereof and optionally a folic protein binding agent. The patent expires on 15 June 2021.”
“Putting aside the abuses against human rights, there are technical issues as well.”Whether one talks about the European Patent Office or epogen/Epoetin alfa, EPO is now synonymous with cheating, breaking of rules. Putting aside the abuses against human rights, there are technical issues as well. For instance, somebody posted an amusing ode titled “BB’s Declaration on Truth and Self-Imposed Stupidity…”
This is about the reality distortion field, which we recently covered here, both before and after the event in Rijswijk. Another person correctly insinuated that “the level of the USPTO has now been [corrected] reached by the EPO” with patents on a digital purring cat — a software patent idiotic/trivial enough that the USPTO would most likely approve given its low standards and greed which motivates such low standards, sending out the message that nearly all applications will be successful, leading to a filings deluge, also at courts’ dockets. “Sure that the problem-solution-approach exists when assessing inventive step,” wrote the person. “I however still fail to see what can be inventive in claiming the purring of a virtual cat when a cursor is moved back and forth on the virtual cat. The claim does certainly not read on an actual cat. If this would be the case, novelty would not even be given. [...] it means sadly that the level of the USPTO has now be reached by the EPO….. Where has common sense disappeared to?” This is the patent in question, from Immersion Corporation, which has an extensive cluster of other cross-referencing software patents at the EPO, mostly relating to user interfaces and vibration for feedback. Just because the software triggers a “vibrate” action doesn’t mean the software is somehow physical. It’s still a software patent. Based on the company’s own site, it’s about software and it’s about licensing, not necessarily making things. There’s an “IP Licensing” section under “Products”. To quote their plenary description from the front page: “Immersion licenses touch feedback technology.”
“We worry that Europe is following the footsteps of the US when it comes to patents when it fact it should have been the US emulating Europe, for its patent system has historically received more respect and trust.”This kind of patent maximalism, meaning the expansion of patents or the objective of maximising the number of patents by lowering quality (of examination or patents approved), is something that we’ve warned about many times here before. It’s why we wrote about the EPO almost a decade ago, primarily in relation to software patents. It was Brimelow who permitted the “as such” loophole to sneak in, but it was Battistelli who took this further with accelerated examination (meaning lax or lenient) for Microsoft, which mostly patents software and exploits Brimelow’s loophole to make it seem like something which it’s not.
We worry that Europe is following the footsteps of the US when it comes to patents when it fact it should have been the US emulating Europe, for its patent system has historically received more respect and trust. The boosters of software patents — people who themselves never wrote computer programs or understand how a computer works — try to pressure policymakers, judges, examiners etc. to abolish the Alice case as a factor, despite the SCOTUS overwhelmingly (unanimously) ruling against abstract software patents. Here is the latest example of that, published just yesterday. By his own admission, the author “is a patent attorney licensed to practice law in California and Arizona.” Looking only at the side of patent aggressors and their lawyers (not their victims, who are far greater in number), he writes that “examining corps’ over-use of Section 101 rejections can be reined in via a more disciplined and structured set of instructions.”
“How is reduction in rejections a good thing? What is the point of patent examination is there’s no difficulty and frequent rejections?”Why is it overuse? Because he doesn’t like it when Alice is brought up? It’s a Supreme Court’s strong, high-level decision. Why bypass it?
“Examiners would like it,” he said, insinuating that somehow granting a lot more patents on software is something that examiners would prefer (in the past at least they received financial incentive to actually grant if in doubt rather than decline). He also said that “applicants would find examination outcome more predictable and know how to respond to rejections better; and reduced rejections represents good patent policy and will benefit the U.S. economy.”
This is complete nonsense. How is reduction in rejections a good thing? What is the point of patent examination is there’s no difficulty and frequent rejections? It’s like those scandals in the UK where examination authorities in the scholarly world are found have have made exams easier so that young people get higher grades and they can deduce from it that children are somehow (magically) getting a lot smarter.
“Don’t take advice from patent lawyers on issues such as these.”Patent lawyers are understandably concerned because many of their old clients probably feel reluctant to patent software any longer. That’s a good thing for society as a whole. Don’t take advice from patent lawyers on issues such as these. They’re biased, and not for idealogical reasons but for their own pockets.
“The status of the lobby against software patents is so bad that I have to say #ilovefs,” Benjamin Henrion wrote on Sunday night. He is right as the camp that fought against software patents used to be a lot more active a decade ago or even a few years ago. The public debate has been mostly warped (with help from the corporate media, which is owned by large corporations that love software patents but hate trolls that sue them), to the point where a lot of the public now thinks in terms like “patent trolls”, not patent scope or a patent’s domain. █