EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

06.27.16

Techrights (Almost) at 10: From Software Patents to Novell and to Present Focus on EPO

Posted in Apple, Europe, Microsoft, Novell, Oracle, Patents at 9:10 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

A weak and/or incompetent EPO would harm everyone in the world

10 dollars

Summary: A short story about how and why we ended up writing so much about the European Patent Office (EPO) and the impact beyond Europe

THE EPO has become a subject of considerable debate and focus here. It started around 2014 after we had primarily focused on the US patent system, the USPTO.

For those who have not been reading the site since its inception, here is a short introduction.

I had been a GNU/Linux advocate well before this site existed and an opponent of software patents (not patents as a whole) for a little longer than that. People who have themselves developed software don’t find it difficult to understand why copyrights, not patents, are suitable protection for one’s work (protection from plagiarism, misuse, misattribution, and so on).

The earliest goal of the site, back almost 10 years ago, was to end the software patents assault by Microsoft against GNU/Linux and Free software in general — an assault which began if not publicly culminated with the Microsoft/Novell patent deal. Novell took several years to decline after this deal and ultimately, unsurprisingly, Microsoft grabbed Novell’s own software patents, in a joint takeover along with Apple, Oracle, etc. These companies do not want Linux and Android to succeed, not without them being heavily taxed by the proprietary software oligopoly (Microsoft, Apple and Oracle still have ongoing patent/copyright fights against Android).

Apple’s attack on Linux (through Android) officially began in 2010, whereupon we wrote a great deal about Apple and shortly afterwards Oracle joined this war. It had already shown some hostility towards Red Hat, just shortly before the Microsoft/Novell deal in 2006.

For those who are not yet seeing a pattern, let it be spelled out clearly; the rise of Free software and GNU/Linux gave power to new actors such as Google, which made proper use of Free software in order to build back- and front-end stacks (databases, operating systems, AI, Web servers and so on). This meant that gadgets-selling giants, database giants, operating systems giants/monopolies etc. that were and still are proprietary (e.g. iOS, Mac OS X, Oracle, Windows) needed to either crash/crush emergent forces or tax them, using either patents or copyrights (this goes back to 2003 with the Microsoft-backed SCO assault on Linux).

Right now, in 2016, the aforementioned issues are unresolved. Microsoft is still attacking Linux (but more cleverly, with shrewdly-worded announcements that brand/frame patent settlements as bundling deals), Apple still has several patent cases against Android OEMs, and Oracle refuses to give up even after 6 years in the courtroom (against Android through Google). The cause of utmost importance here deals not only with software patents anymore but also with some design patents (Apple v Samsung) and copyright on APIs (Oracle v Google).

About 8 years ago we expressed concerns about software patents in Europe due to FRAND lobbying (from companies like Microsoft) and Brimelow’s loophole “as such”. We thereafter didn’t keep a close eye on the EPO for quite some time. Not much seemed to happen, but new kinds of abuses started to emerge and these seemed to be related to the resurrection of the “EU patent” or “community patent”, this time under a new kind of name and marketing (equating maximalism with union, unity, universality etc.) accompanied by/with repression of staff and suppression of critics. Even the staff union of the EPO, which had existed for several decades, came under unprecedented (even outside the EPO) attacks.

The reason we now focus a great deal on the EPO is that we have reasonably good understanding of the matters involved. We also have many articles on the subject, which helps us create a cohesive story with a lot of cross-referencing. Our goal now is to help other people (EPO insiders as well as politicians who are outsiders) gain an equally good understanding of why the EPO’s management must be chopped laterally and replaced en masse. It is the only way to save the EPO right now. Delegates that make up the Administrative Council probably have a good grip on the current situation, but they are afraid (or tied up by Battistelli’s hand on the budget), so they are not likely to do anything. The EPO needs somewhat of a revolution and strikes/demonstrations are steps towards that.

In the coming days we shall have a lot to write about the EPO and we will devote plenty of time and resources to ensure this historic period in the EPO is properly documented. We welcome feedback from readers and we hope that new material will continue to flow in. Now that everyone in the UK (and increasingly beyond) talks about “Brexit” it looks like Battistelli will definitely fail to deliver on his promises. He will be remembered not as a pioneer manager who compromised the rule of law for some ‘necessary’ reform but as a ruthless tyrant that shattered the EPO’s reputation for many years if not decades to come.

The EPO will outlive Battistelli and it is everyone’s job, especially at the EPO, to fight for patent quality (i.e. defy Battistelli’s ‘productivity’ obsession or lunacy). Remember that patent offices live or die (or make or break if not perish) based on the value or perceived value of their granted patents, i.e. examination that increases certainty in a court of law. Being an ENA graduate, Battistelli perhaps hopes that his predecessor will be left to deal with the aftermath of his atrocious policies (brain drain, low patent quality, reputation problems). Then the blame might be misplaced. A retired Battistelli would have little or nothing to worry about, but what about patent examiners who are far from retirement? How about retired examiners whose pension will be at risk? Given some upcoming Battistelli ‘reforms’, many people’s pensions are already at risk. This is just bad for Europe’s competitiveness across many sectors (medicine, chemistry, physics, telecommunication and many more). As patents get granted and assigned not just to European applicants (only the employees of the EPO are European), this may also means innovation will happen in the courts (lawyers’ strategies with patent trolls) rather than in the laboratories. Patent monopolies that are granted for the sake of being granted (artificially elevating some measure of EPO ‘output’) rather than to promote innovation can retard human progress as a whole.

Share this post: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • co.mments
  • DZone
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • NewsVine
  • Print
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Facebook

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

What Else is New


  1. Links 17/8/2018: GNU/Linux From ASUS, Debian at 25, Lubuntu Plans

    Links for the day



  2. Links 16/8/2018: MAAS 2.4.1, Mesa 18.2 RC3

    Links for the day



  3. USPTO Craziness: Changing Rules to Punish PTAB Petitioners and Reward Microsoft for Corruption at ISO

    The US patent office proposes charging/imposing on applicants that are not customers of Microsoft a penalty; there’s also an overtly and blatantly malicious move whose purpose is to discourage petitions against wrongly-granted (by the USPTO) patents



  4. The Demise of US Software Patents Continues at the Federal Circuit

    Software patents are rotting away in the United States; it remains to be seen when the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) will truly/fully honour 35 U.S.C. § 101 and stop granting such patents



  5. Almost Two Months After the ILO Ruling Staff Representative Brumme is Finally Back on the Job at EPO

    Ion Brumme gets his position at the EPO back, owing to the Administrative Tribunal of the International Labour Organization (ILO-AT) ruling back in July; things, however, aren't rosy for the Office as a whole



  6. Links 15/8/2018: Akademy 2018 Wrapups and More Intel Defects

    Links for the day



  7. Antiquated Patenting Trick: Adding Words Like 'Apparatus' to Make Abstract Ideas Look/Sound Like They Pertain to or Contain a 'Device'

    35 U.S.C. § 101 (Section 101) still maintains that abstract ideas are not patent-eligible; so applicants and law firms go out of their way to make their ideas seem as though they're physical



  8. Open Invention Network (OIN) Member Companies Need to Become Unanimous in Opposition to Software Patents

    Opposition to abstract software patents, which even the SCOTUS and the Federal Circuit nowadays reject, would be strategically smart for OIN; but instead it issues a statement in support of a GPL compliance initiative



  9. President Battistelli 'Killed' the EPO; António Campinos Will 'Finish the Job'

    The EPO is shrinking, but this is being shrewdly disguised using terms like "efficiency" and a low-profile President who keeps himself in the dark



  10. Links 14/8/2018: Virtlyst 1.2.0, Blender 2.8 Planning Update, Zorin OS 12.4, FreeBSD 12.0 Alpha

    Links for the day



  11. Berkheimer Changed Nothing and Invalidation Rates of Abstract Software Patents Remain Very High

    Contrary to repetitive misinformation from firms that 'sell' services around patents, there is no turnaround or comeback for software patents; the latest numbers suggest a marginal difference at best — one that may be negligible considering the correlation between expected outcomes and actions (the nature of risk analysis)



  12. Lockton Insurance Brokers Exploiting Patent Trolls to Sell Insurance to the Gullible

    Demonstrating what some people have dubbed (and popularised) "disaster capitalism", Lockton now looks for opportunities to profit from patent trolls, in the form of "insurance" (the same thing Microsoft does)



  13. Patent Lawyers Writing Patent Law for Their Own Enrichment Rather Than for Innovation

    We have become detached from the original goals and come to the point where patent offices aren't necessarily run by people qualified for the job of advancing science and technology; they, unlike judges, only seem to care about how many patents get granted, irrespective of their quality/merit



  14. Links 13/8/2018: Linux 4.18 and GNU Linux-libre 4.18 Arrive

    Links for the day



  15. PTAB is Loathed by Patent Maximalists Because It Can Potentially Invalidate Thousands of Software Patents (More Than Courts Can Handle)

    The US patent system has become more resistant to software patents; courts, however, are still needed to invalidate such patents (a potentially expensive process) because the USPTO continues to grant these provided some fashionable buzzwords/hype waves are utilised (e.g. "facial recognition", "blockchain", "autonomous vehicles")



  16. Gene Quinn and 'Dallas Innovates' as Couriers of Agenda for Patent Trolls Like iPEL

    Failing to hide their real purpose and malicious agenda, sites whose real purpose is to promote a lot of patent litigation produce puff pieces, even for patently unethical trolls such as iPEL



  17. Software Patents, Secured by 'Smart' and 'Intelligent' Tricks, Help Microsoft and Others Bypass Alice/Section 101

    A look at the use of fashionable trends and buzzwords to acquire and pass around dubious software patents, then attempting to guard these from much-needed post-Alice scrutiny



  18. Keep Boston (and Massachusetts in General) From Becoming an Infestation Zone for Patent Litigation

    Boston, renowned for research and innovation, has become somewhat of a litigation hotbed; this jeopardises the state's attractiveness (except perhaps to lawyers)



  19. Links 12/8/2018: Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Mesa 18.1.6 Release Notice, New Linux Imminent

    Links for the day



  20. Thomas Massie's “Restoring America’s Leadership in Innovation Act of 2018” (RALIA) Would Put the US Patent System in the Lions' (or Trolls') Mouth Again

    An anti-§ 101 and anti-PTAB bill from Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) strives to remove quality control; but by handing the system back to patent trolls he and his proponents simply strive to create more business of litigation, at the expense of innovation



  21. EPO-Style Problem-Solution: Tackling Backlog by Granting Lots of Low-Quality (Bogus) European Patents, Causing a Surge in Troll/Frivolous Litigation

    The EPO's lack of interest in genuine patent quality (measuring "quality" in terms of speed, not actual quality) may mean nothing but a litigation epidemic; many of these lawsuits would be abusive, baseless; those harmed the most would be small businesses that cannot afford a legal defense and would rather settle with those who exploit questionable patents, notably patent trolls



  22. Links 11/8/2018: PGP Clean Room 1.0, Ring-KDE 3.0.0, Julia 1.0

    Links for the day



  23. Propaganda Sites of Patent Trolls and Litigators Have Quit Trying to Appear Impartial or Having Integrity

    The lobbying groups of patent trolls (which receive money from such trolls) carry on meddling in policy and altering perception that drives policy; we present some new examples



  24. Months After Oil States the Patent Maximalists Still Try to Undermine Inter Partes Reviews (“IPRs”), Refusing to Accept Patent Quality

    The patent maximalists in the United States, seeing that the USPTO is moving away from patent maximalism, is desperate for a turnaround; prominent patent maximalists take it all out on PTAB



  25. The Unified Patent Court (UPC) Agreement is Paralysed, So Team UPC is Twisting Old News

    Paralysis of the Unified Patent Court Agreement (UPCA) means that people are completely forgetting about its very existence; those standing to benefit from it (patent litigation firms) are therefore recycling and distorting old news



  26. Patents as Profiteering Opportunities for Law Firms Rather Than Drivers of Innovation for Productive Companies

    A sample of news from yesterday; the patent microcosm is still arguing about who pays attorneys’ fees (not whether these fees are justified) and is constantly complaining about the decline in patent litigation, which means fewer and lower attorneys’ fees (less work for them)



  27. Links 9/8/2018: Mesa 18.2 RC2, Cockpit 175, WPA-2 Hash Cracking

    Links for the day



  28. Patent Maximalists -- Not Reformers -- Are the Biggest Threat to the Viability of the Patent System and Innovation

    Those who strive to infinitely expand patent scope are rendering the patent system obsolete and completely losing sight of the very purpose of the patent system, whose sanity US courts and lawmakers gradually restore (one ruling and one bill at a time)



  29. WeMove.EU Tackles Low Patent Quality at the European Patent Office (EPO)

    The breadth of European Patents, which now cover even nature itself, worries public interest groups; Team UPC, however, wants patent scope to expand further and António Campinos has expressed his intention to further increase the number of grants



  30. Links 8/8/2018: KDE Neon for Testing, New LibreOffice Release, Dart 2.0

    Links for the day


CoPilotCo

RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

CoPilotCo

Recent Posts