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01.03.17

New Article From Heise Explains Erosion of Patent Quality at the European Patent Office (EPO)

Posted in America, Asia, Europe, Patents at 10:45 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

EPs are becoming ever more useless (hence a waste of money) under Battistelli

President Battistelli

Summary: To nobody’s surprise, the past half a decade saw accelerating demise in quality of European Patents (EPs) and it is the fault of Battistelli’s notorious policies

THE overpaid ‘king’ of the EPO (who keeps the salary he is giving to himself secret, like in a third world country) keeps rewarding himself and his protectors for leading the Office in a self-destructive path — a lethal trajectory that would leave nobody but them (the top-level management) well off financially. The have the economic tenacity of oligarchs that prey on states for profit. They need to be stopped before it’s too late (if it’s not too late already, as redundancies loom over the horizon).

Earlier this afternoon an article from Heise’s Christian Kirsch was published in German. An automated translation of the article tells us it’s much of the old stuff, i.e. not much new information. “Proceedings before the ILO may take up to ten years,” explains Kirsch and also “there are different opinions between the employees and Battistelli about the “improvement in productivity” that he has advanced in the EPO.” To quote the automated and unedited translation: “Visible the first time in 2011. At that time, were the President suggested that the employees from the surplus of the Office a bonus of 4,000 euros net pay. On the other hand, the employees’ representatives expressed their opinion: such a bonus signals that the goal is above all to grant many patents and consequently to generate a high fee. It is, however, essential to examine the applications thoroughly and to maintain the high standard of the EPO in the granting of patents.”

IP Kat‘s debunking of patent quality claims is cited also. To quote: “Auditors and patent attorneys, however, are skeptical about what Battistelli’s “productivity increase” is about, which should have amounted to about 14 percent in 2015. To interpret the figures according to the British Blogs IPKat considers out that the Office has resorted to “cherry-picking”…”

A lot of the rest deals with the spineless [cref 96056& chinchillas] of the Administrative Council, the attack on the independence of the appeal boards, attacks on SUEPO, and at the very end Brexit’s effect on the UPC (the automated translation there is too mangled to be comprehensible).

Looking across the Atlantic at the USPTO, things appear to have meanwhile improved. As Patently-O said after the new year had begun, patents continue to be challenged by PTAB, which is sort of an equivalent of the appeal boards in the EPO (though not exactly similar). One new article says about claims of temporal separation between two communications in a patent that a court stepped in and:

On remand, the PTAB will decide whether the prior art the claim elements as they are more narrowly defined.

Remember that PTAB did not even exist more than half a decade ago!

Battistelli’s vision of the EPO is akin to that of a registration office with minimal appeal opportunities. Because hey, who needs justice anyway? It’s not as though today’s EPO cares about justice. Not even of its own employees…

Another new article of Patently-O says:

The Supreme Court has in recent years routinely rejected the Federal Circuit’s rigid, cabined interpretations of the Patent Act. While no one knows what the future holds, today’s practitioner’s conduct may be judged by a more stringent standard than suggested in Therasense and proposed here. That has happened with eligibility, obviously. Given that the Supreme Court could hold that the Patent Act requires more than avoiding intentionally obtaining a patent that you know you shouldn’t get, and given that that interpretation will likely be applied to all issued patents, and given the USPTO’s statement that it hopes that the new definition will result in less disclosure, one can see a trap for the unwary practitioner. This may give practitioners a false sense of security.

By “practitioners” he means the patent microcosm, or the bunch of people who profit from patent maximalism without actually producing anything (other than paperwork).

And speaking of patent scope, today IAM correctly points out that China has become the land of patent chaos. Patent quality barely exists there and Battistelli seems to be emulating that. He wants a production/assembly line, not a patent office. It’s far too easy to just grant a patent on every piece of garbage and figment of imagination; it’s a lot harder to come up with real inventions and ensure that these — and these alone — get granted a patent, making a European Patent (EP) synonymous with somewhat of a trophy. Here is what IAM (patent maximalists) wrote:

Pro-plaintiff China – Not only does China handle more patent applications than anywhere else on earth, as well as more patent suits, but it is now also becoming one of the world’s most patent-friendly jurisdictions. This was a trend that accelerated during 2016, when it emerged that the Beijing IP court – one of three established in the country in 2014 (the others being in Shanghai and Guangzhou) – had handed foreign rights owners a 100% win rate in its first full year of operation. What’s more, unlike their counterparts in the US, the Chinese courts are willing and able to hand out injunctions, as the likes of Samsung and Apple discovered last year. Not everything in China’s patent garden is rosy – damages are low (though getting higher), enforcement of court decisions is often a problem and there are issues around protectionism – but for a country that has no strong patent tradition, China has come a long way very fast. And with manufacturing jobs moving to lower cost countries, the government’s push for an economy built on innovation is only likely to reinforce this trend. Perhaps the most significant confirmation of what is happening came at the end of the year when it was announced that Qualcomm had settled a high-stakes patent dispute with mobile manufacturer Meizu. This was an American company that had taken action against a flag-waving local business and, in the end, the latter concluded it could not win. That says a lot.

Speaking of China, Tian Lu reviews a book of Qiao Yongzhong. “Many experts in China, including Dr. Qiao,” Lu explains, “feel no smugness with the huge patent filing numbers.”

It’s just a big heap of garbage. The EPO seems to be heading in the same direction, unlike the USPTO, owing in part to SCOTUS with the above-mentioned rulings.

For Europe to be competitive we must ensure that European authorities recognise the colossal damage Battistelli is causing and belatedly step in.

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