07.04.16

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Image of Battistelli’s EPO Tarnished in the UK and Elsewhere as Battistelli Warms up to Cuba, Colombia, and Panama

Posted in Europe, Patents at 4:49 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Battistelli: Comes from country of famous revolution; Promotes corporate interests and attacks on workers' rights

Summary: Sooner or later, judging by the severely damaged image of the EPO under Battistelli’s reign, all the allies who remain with Battistelli will be equally questionable

The public sentiments towards the EPO are largely negative (more on that in our next post), especially so in the UK. EPO recruitment of Brits fell by 80% (they probably don’t bother even applying) and these new comments from The Register are also revealing. One person wrote (correctly):

Most big players don’t contest the validity of a big pile of patents – they just show their own big pile of patents and agree a cross-licensing deal. It’s cheaper and avoids a lot of risk.

Most small players can’t contest the validity of even a single patent – they just can’t afford the legal fees (about a million dollars), and they don’t want the risk of a big judgement against them that puts them out of business, so they just have to pay up.

So most people filing patents would like them all to be rubber-stamped. Patent applications need to be checked very carefully in order to protect everyone else from the patent-holder.

We have heard from British SMEs that are extremely upset at the EPO (see coverage from around January of this year) and seriously consider taking legal action over the matter. Here is the Swiss system being cited by another comment:

“A very high degree of certainty in the validity of your patent”? Dream on. The likelihood of your patent being found invalid is determined by its commercial value, and has very little to do with the search and examination process. An EPO examiner spends a few days on each case. In a serious validity challenge, you will move heaven and earth to find prior art or weaknesses in the patent. It may take many man-months, or even man-years. The EPO’s little contribution is a helpful indicator, but it does not give you “a very high degree of certainty”, or even any kind of certainty. In fact it can be downright misleading.

By the way, some patent systems (eg Switzerland) function very well without any examination of patentability. It’s the applicant’s responsibility to make sure that he doesn’t claim protection for something he’s not entitled to. This makes for a very sober and reasonable patent environment.

Here is a good comment about software patents and the UK-IPO:

Every hour they argue among themselves is worth 8 patents not granted. I cannot imagine the UK patent office doing something so constructive. The UK patent office is responsible for the policy of granting software patents as long as ‘software’ is spelled ‘computer implemented invention’.

There was some rubbish in the Brexit propaganda about foreign EU judges making rulings that applied to UK companies. The bit they forgot to mention was that UK judges made rulings that applied to the whole of Europe. Once an EU court is selected for a patent dispute, that court’s decision applies to the whole of Europe so companies do not have to face nuisance litigation in every state. Before Brexit, a UK company could get their case heard in the UK.

Leaving the EU will not make the European patent office go away. UK trolls will still have to file there to sue EU companies. EU trolls will still sue UK companies, but post Brexit the hearing will be outside the UK.

Years ago, like thousands of other programmers I wrote to my MEP and asked him to vote against legalising software patents. The European parliament listened, so people with time and money to burn stand a good chance of getting a computer implemented invention patent invalidated because software is mathematics which is not patentable. I have also written to UK MPs and got replies like ‘I do not care about that, I just want to send money to Africa’, ‘programmers do not understand the benefits of the patent system so I am going to spend millions on an advertising campaign to educate them’ and ‘programmers do not understand patents’.

What the above could mention is also the loophole created within the EPO to permit software patents in Europe. Germany is even more lenient than Britain on this matter.

The EPO, says another comment, is “[a]nother institution beginning with European we’ll be glad to see the back off.” [sic] Likely to have come from a Brexit proponent, this comment helps show the degree to which Battistelli’s abuses contribute to the negative opinion/view of the European Union — a subject on which we remarked here before.

“Given Panama’s activities as reported in the press, patent co-operation with the EPO is unlikely to make a difference for Panama’s economy.”
      –Anonymous
Now, looking elsewhere, we also learn about EPO “Cooperation with Cuba, Colombia and … Panama” (notorious for Soviet ties, gangs, tax evasion, censorship, and all sorts of other mischief). In the words of an anonymous writer: “International co-operation seems to be one of Mr. Battistelli’s priorities. We have been informed about his cooperation (these co-operations are in the form of bilateral agreements, the contents of which is not published) with WIPO and with OHIM (now EUIPO), with China (in relation to which he received an honorary doctorate), with Morocco and of course with the EPO member states, the latter at an admitted cost for the EPO of 13 million Euros (CA/24/14, point 25). According to a EPO internal report Mr. Battistelli recently also visited Cuba, Panama and Columbia in order to “develop co-operation activities in Latin America”. What the report fails to mention is that during the last 5 years Cuba filed an average of 8 European patent applications per year, and Panama scored an average of 5 applications per year. Columbia is doing better with 15 applications per year. According to the official report, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed with Cuba and Colombia. This appears not to be the case for Panama. We cite: “There, the President met the Vice-Minister of Industry and Commerce and the Director of IP Office (DIGERP) who, among other relevant topics discussed, showed a particular interest for the validation agreements the EPO is currently pursuing with non-European Countries.” Given Panama’s activities as reported in the press, patent co-operation with the EPO is unlikely to make a difference for Panama’s economy.”

In a similar vein, these expensive trips of Battistelli and his bodyguards are unlikely to bring much income (application/renewal fees) to the EPO. These look like cheap publicity stunts, coordinated with people whose reputation (or political careers) would not be considerably harmed by being associated with a tyrant like Battistelli.

If Battistelli spends so much effort creating ties with rather notorious countries (on human rights, illegal drug trade, trafficking, financial regulation etc.) that barely submit any patent applications, what does it say about Battistelli’s vision of Europe? One might go a step further and say that Battistelli’s abuses contributed to Brexit. No matter how much controversy Battistelli generates, he’ll always remain closely-guarded and welcomed by infamous oppressors and monarchs (with royal titles). Diplomatically he’s useless inside Europe. Governance of occupation or authority by fear is the legacy of Battistelli at the EPO, which serves to legitimise or lend credibility to some caricatures/stereotypes/stigma regarding EU bureaucrats.

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