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11.16.16

The EPO Lowering Patent Quality, Accused of Issuing Invalid Patents, and Promoting Software Patents (Hence Trolls)

Posted in Asia, Europe, Patents at 6:38 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The future of the EPO is like that of a pipeline/production line, totally drunk on “production” (quantity, not quality)

Very drunk

Summary: The EPO under Battistelli is increasingly just a pipeline of bogus/low-quality patents which fuel patent trolling all around the world and also in Europe (harming the European economy)

THE EPO under Battistelli’s awful leadership gradually becomes more software patents-friendly, whereas the USPTO is moving away from such patents. Such is the nature of the Office under Battistelli, the man who will be remembered as the person who brought down the whole Organisation, severely punishing staff that dared warn about it.

Software patents at the EPO should not be allowed, yet in two counties/continents that forbid these (India also) the EPO keeps promoting these. We have mentioned this many times before, especially last month. Today the EPO did it again and also today an article was published by Tufty The Cat (quite well known in patent circles). “The EPO issues invalid patents too,” said the headline and here is what the body said:

The sole drawing of the patent is shown here on the right. Basically, the patent claims a hairdressing salon in a shipping container (or some other kind of mobile structure) with a window cut into it. This is not, however, even the broadest claim. Claim 9 defines “A mobile structure for a hairdressing salon according to one of claims 1 to 7″. According to the usual EPO interpretation of the word “for”, this would cover any shipping container.

How this application got through the EPO system is at the moment quite beyond me. From a quick review of the prosecution file though, it seems that the examiner was persuaded that adding a window made the invention allowable over US 2006/137188 A1. Just in case anyone has any doubt about whether the invention is novel, let alone inventive, there is prior art in the form of shipping containers repurposed as hair salons such as this article from 11 June 2011 (before the 23 August 2012 priority date of the patent). For further avoidance of doubt, the internet archive wayback machine (which is normally accepted by the EPO as evidence of publication date) confirms that the article was available on 16 June 2011. One of the photographs in the article, shown below, seems to have everything required according to claim 1. Incidentally, the search that led me to this took about five minutes.

The subject of awful patent scope and EPO disregarding the instructions from politicians was discussed in Dutch Parliament yesterday. We have received more information since then and also engaged in a short discussion on the subject with the politician in question. One EPO insider said to us that a “similar debate should simultaneously take place in Germany, Austria and Belgium.”

Speaking of the EPO pushing software patents not only into Europe but potentially India too, see this new article from Jack Ellis at IAM. One patent maximalist said that “Dolby Selects India for Asserting Patents Against Chinese Companies,” but the actual headline is “Dolby is the latest foreign patent owner to select India for asserting against Chinese companies” and it shows a Western company playing a proxy game with patent predators in India (also see IAM’s remarks on this Harman acquisition):

Dolby has reportedly sued Oppo and Vivo in the Delhi High Court, accusing the two Chinese electronics and smartphone manufacturers of failing to pay appropriate royalties for use of its patented technologies. Dolby follows Ericsson in seeking to assert its rights in India, something that may indicate that the jurisdiction is growing in importance from an IP strategy perspective.

BGR India reported on Friday that the Delhi High Court had issued an order relating to cases that the audio technology company had filed against a number of defendants, including Oppo, Vivo and their parent firm BBK Electronics, as well as a number of affiliated local entities. IAM contacted Dolby on this matter, but the company declined to comment.

“Dolby follows Ericsson,” says the above and as we noted last year, Ericsson, a European company, officially brought patent trolls to Europe (to London in fact).

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