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02.07.17

Battistelli’s EPO is Under Fire From Major Applicants for So-called ‘Early Certainty’ (Low Quality and Rushed Patent Examination)

Posted in Europe, Patents at 7:12 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Not worth the money anymore

Biotechs concerned over EPO rules

Summary: Growing unrest from EPO applicants and harsh position papers are on their way, expressing disapproval of the direction the EPO has taken under Battistelli’s appalling leadership (which 0% of the stakeholders recently polled approve of)

INSIDERS from the EPO are rightly concerned that quality control at the EPO is not only declining but may eventually lead to a French style system where all applications are just shelved and presumed valid. EPO stakeholders, who have evidently grown tired of Battistelli and very much upset at the direction the EPO has taken, finally speak out, just as their attorneys did. There was an article about it some hours ago (screenshot above) and here are some snippets from it:

Biotechs concerned over EPO rules

Gavin Recchia, Principal at Australia’s large IP attorney firm Davies Collison & Cave told European Biotechnology that the so-called Early Certainty on Examination “may well have the unintended consequence of reducing the filing of life sciences patent applications in Europe”.

[...]

European experts had carefully criticised the Early Examination plans earlier. Now, sources told European Biotechnology that the German biotech association BIO Deutschland and the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) will come up with position papers soon. According to leaked information, the lobby groups will propose to the EPO to establish an option to de-pace the accelerated examination on request in order to grant early legal certainty on one hand but also to prevent potential downsides of the new rules to the life sciences sector.

This indicates that some major action is poised to start. What will Battistelli have to say for himself? He ruined the EPO in order to fake “production” and he tarnished the reputation of every single EP in the process. The whole well is muddied. The certainty associated with the validity of European patents (EPs) is no more.

“What will Battistelli have to say for himself? He ruined the EPO in order to fake “production” and he tarnished the reputation of every single EP in the process.”Battistelli actually does have something to show. This Cambodia thing which was more like a joke/farce is resurfacing again today, this time courtesy of Schmitt & Orlov with some more ‘copypasta’, just like the two articles we saw in the Cambodian press. “Sources https://www.epo.org/” says this so-called ‘article’ at the end; they’re like parrots of cheaply-made PR, sourced from the incompetent PR staff of Battistelli. We just can’t help wondering, why do some patent firms still prop up this nonsense? Yesterday it was Shelston IP doing it and now Schmitt & Orlov. Can’t they see how truly and utterly ridiculous this whole thing is? For EP holders to be able to go to Cambodia? Because they can enforce their patents in Cambodia, a country with no EPs at all, some time later this year (summer)?

The one thing Battistelli attempted to market (perceptual promises, always in vain) was the UPC, but there will be no unitary effect any time soon (if ever!). Dr. Luke McDonagh is planning to explain why, having already written a great deal about the subject, including a whole book. The subject is to be explained in London tomorrow (or technically, as per local time, later today). Here are his thoughts:

One of the most pressing questions that remains unresolved regarding Brexit and IP concerns a centrepiece of EU innovation policy – namely, the ongoing process for setting up a single unitary patent (the EP with unitary effect) and a Unified Patent Court (UPC) common to participating EU member states (including, at least for now, the UK).

[...]

So far, 25 out of the 28 EU member states have agreed to join the UPC, with Spain, Poland and Croatia the only ones not participating. Until the Brexit referendum, the UK seemed to be well on the way to full ratification of the UPC. Indeed, for the past four years the UK government has been making plans to host one of the new court’s central divisions in Aldgate, east London, where a building has already been leased in preparation for the new court’s establishment and mock trials have taken place.

What is crucial in the Brexit context is that even though the UPC will have its own jurisdiction to rule with respect to most patent issues – like the infringement of patented drugs – it must defer to the CJEU in a small number of areas of EU law, such issues arising under the Biotech Directive or matters relating to Supplementary Protection Certificates. In line with this, the CJEU in Opinion 1/09 held that only states that accept the supremacy of EU law and the jurisdiction of the CJEU may sign up.

[...]

One final point – the fate of the UK’s continued participation in the unitary patent scheme remains less certain. The UP, unlike the UPC, is created by an EU regulation, and there is no way to consider it a purely ‘international right’ (although the existing EP granted by the EPO would fit this definition). Accepting the UP would require a more extensive assessment of EU law and as yet the UK government has not given us any clues as to its intentions. It remains possible that the the UK – post-Brexit – will stay within the UPC but not the UP.

In summary, EPO applicants receive EPs that are of low quality, are generally overpriced, have no unitary effect, but may be enforceable in Cambodia later this year. For those who don’t know, Cambodia is one of the poorest countries in Asia.

And some people still wonder why and how the EPO became Europe’s (or the world’s) laughing stock?

Insensitivity at the EPO’s Management – Part VI: Fear Climate and Antipathy Now the ‘Norm’

Posted in Europe, Patents at 6:35 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Smiling judge

Summary: The so-called “reign of terror” at the EPO (that is what the mainstream media calls it now) as explained by an insider, based on personal experiences

TODAY we continue a long series which explores and details the ethical depravity which prevails at the high ‘circles’ of EPO management (Team Battistelli). Previously, in part 5, we explained how workers were left to ‘rot’ after their family had fallen critically ill. This would typically be a good point for staff union/s to step in and help, but at the EPO the sole genuine union, SUEPO, is under severe attacks. Battistelli’s union-busting campaign has instated a reign of terror which paralyses not only union activity but also ordinary workers. SUEPO has been writing about exploitation of illness for quite some time, so it seems like a golden opportunity to intervene.

“It hampered heavily both union and staff representation functions.”
      –Anonymous
“SUEPO is also not a focused structure,” however, as a source told us because “it has always been torn apart from its inner nature of internal unions; people in it first and utmost care for their position in EPO. Same attitude that in present times translates into fear for themselves. It hampered heavily both union and staff representation functions.”

A seatbelt analogy was once used to explain this. Or an oxygen mask. Staff union members — and especially leaders — have had to ensure their own safety too, as under Battistelli’s notorious reign of terror they can suddenly find themselves wrongly accused and then dismissed in a kangaroo court. What Battistelli has therefore done leaves vulnerable staff (or staff he does not like) almost totally defenseless.

“Now I haven’t been paid for months,” a source one told us about the EPO, “they fabricated a new rule just for me: they assume that I am not present at my residence (which I am not obliged to be, but nevertheless) and for every assumed day of absence they take away a twentieth of my wage. I have been forced to interrupt my medical treatment and notify myself with a passport to the Office premises. As it is, I won’t receive my wage again. They spare themselves the trouble of a questionable dismissal, yet they exert upon me the same type of pressure that a dismissal can cause: no wage. Office rules require that no deduction shall overcome 50% of the wage, but they kept up to 80% in the past and now 100%. They know it: who could ever complain and how? And before which court?”

“They know it: who could ever complain and how? And before which court?”
      –Anonymous
The dubious ‘legality’ of it aside, it’s not hard to see why not many people even bother applying for a job at the EPO anymore. The required qualifications went down by a lot just in order to attract more applicants (low-quality applications).

“I am aware of intimidations and other more or less explicit pressures made onto medical doctors,” a source told us, “some I found out about during my activity as a staff representative, some other are those actually following me as a patient right now. I also have evidence that the doctors put in charge by the Office under contract or as internal officers have broken rules of their own professional national order.”

Such is the ‘joy’ of working for the EPO…

“They have their own inconsistent convenience of career interests to preserve: truly it’s nothing, but to an emotionally and morally semi-blind creature that has lost any professional profile and moral sense, that’s all that matters.”
      –Anonymous
“The Office has been sowing evil and bad acts all over,” the source continued, “inside and outside the Office, for over a decade at a point that nothing can be covered, let alone erased for much longer. There is reason for that, which cannot be found at just one level, such as corruption or private interests: everything is made possible by anthropologically well understandable mechanisms, the same type of mechanisms that allow the existence of things such as the Gulags, the Stasi, Auschwitz and the Holocaust: human beings with the soul and mind of worm-like creatures. They have their own inconsistent convenience of career interests to preserve: truly it’s nothing, but to an emotionally and morally semi-blind creature that has lost any professional profile and moral sense, that’s all that matters.”

Antipathy now seems like a recruitment criterion for Team Battistelli, which probably serves to explain why one of the top hires (Vice-President) has corruption indictments against him in Strasbourg and many criminal investigations against him in his home country.

Reception of the New German Ambassador (Dirk Brengelmann) at the EPO, in Presence of the Stasi-Like Investigative Unit

Posted in Europe, Patents at 5:59 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

EPO see no wrong

Summary: Reception of the new German Ambassador for the Netherlands, as arranged by Guillaume Minnoye who alleges to be above Dutch law, results in newly-established contacts that can be used to elucidate/convey the grim reality while Benoît Battistelli’s praetorian guard is not watching

THE EPO may have escaped the scrutiny of the Dutch government (at least for now), but what about the German government, which presides over the whole country including Eponia in Munich and Berlin?

“A German watching Germans,” wrote to us an anonymous source, taking note of a recent meeting. “The reception took place on 24 January 2017 at the EPO’s Branch in Rijswijk,” our source explained. First, the invitation:

E-mail subject: “Visit of the German Ambassador – cocktail with german colleagues”

Dear colleagues,

On 24 January the German Ambassador will visit the EPO. After the official part, there will be a cocktail to which Mr Minnoye invites you.

In order to allow me to evaluate the number of participants, please use the reply function with “send reply”.

Thank you very much,

████████████ on behalf of Guillaume Minnoye

The reception itself was described as follows:

The “official part” was very short. After having briefly introduced the new German Ambassador Dirk Brengelmann, the responsible site manager VP1 Guillaume Minnoye, left the reception in order to let the German employees discuss alone with their Ambassador. This is unusual, and to my knowledge did not happen before. Mr Brengelmann apparently wanted to use the opportunity of his visit to the EPO for an informal exchange of views about the social climate.

Dirk BrengelmannThe Ambassador asked those present (about 200) to form small groups; he wanted to talk with them in a less official atmosphere. When asked about the social climate, some shared their feelings about surveillance, witch hunts on union reps and other issues with their ambassador. But one of the persons in the first group, Mr Christoph Forster, was quickly identified as a member of the EPO’s Investigative Unit (IU). He said that there are no basic rights violations at the EPO. He had already worked in the Congo, and could confirm that the methods used by the EPO’s Investigative Unit compared favourably with Congo-standards. The German Ambassador was impressed.

Mr Forster is German, and one of the two IU members based in Rijswijk, the other one being Malcolm Nicholls (presumably British). Forster’s ‘job’ was apparently to have an ‘open ear’ for the conversation of his German colleagues with their Ambassador. He did not budge from Mr Brengelmann’s side until the end of the reception.

“Germans who missed the reception or decided to remain silent because of the presence of an investigator might possibly contact Mr Brengelmann at the German embassy,” our source suggested. We urge our readers to do so because Maas is evidently not doing his job. Not many people are willing to lend an ear and combat an institution which is in principle immune. Those who are sympathetic can often be helpful for a number of years, for example John Kerstens in the Netherlands and Philip Cordery in France (Benoît Battistelli is very concerned about such politicians because they publicly embarrass him in Parliament). Sometimes they even embarrass him in his own PR charades.

“Those who are sympathetic can often be helpful for a number of years, for example John Kerstens in the Netherlands and Philip Cordery in France (Benoît Battistelli is very concerned about such politicians because they publicly embarrass him in Parliament).”Access to justice at the EPO has been systematically denied for years, according to the ILO. Thus, the immunity of the EPO must be stripped. Team Battistelli shamelessly says (on Dutch television even) that it would ignore court orders. This too should be cause for alarm and for action.

As one person put it earlier today, “the point still remains that actions aimed at denying access to justice – should the EPO management ever stoop that low – might enable counter (legal) actions on new grounds.”

“We suggest that a lot of people get in touch with Dirk Brengelmann and explain the situation for him to digest in a short period of time (concision is crucial).”“And who, pray tell,” replied another person, “will take those counter-actions when there is no longer any SUEPO? Will YOU step forward to put YOUR head on the block?”

We suggest that a lot of people get in touch with Dirk Brengelmann and explain the situation for him to digest in a short period of time (concision is crucial). It always helps to have political allies. They might feel less empowered when dealing with an unaccountable agency, but sooner or later every tyranny falls flat on its face. Pressure on Battistelli to resign is growing from stakeholders too, not just staff. His predecessor too (Roland Grossenbacher) seems increasingly eager to remove him. Impeachment isn’t far-fetched at this stage.

Translation: Juve Survey That Shows 0% Approval of Battistelli and Growing Concerns About the EPO

Posted in Europe, Patents at 10:23 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

SUEPO was right and even stakeholders agree that Battistelli must go

Els Hardon

Summary: SUEPO and other EPO insiders vindicated by a recent survey which shows that Battistelli leads the Office in a direction that not even its sources of income are willing to tolerate anymore

WE RECENTLY translated some bits of this article and the corresponding report from Juve, a site that attracts people who are in the legal profession. It looked incredibly bad for the EPO and earlier today SUEPO published translations [1, 2], which we have decided to reproduce as HTML below (the EPO has historically threatened SUEPO and demanded removal of things it had published, so let’s disseminate these further).

Here is the article in English:

Industry Questionnaire on the European Patent Office: Majority want Office boss Battistelli to quit

In-fighting, power struggles, structural reform: The European Patent Office (EPO) in Munich has had a turbulent year. A JUVE survey among global-scale technology companies has revealed serious concerns about the conditions in the Office. They are worried about the conflict between the management and the staff union Suepo, which is now threatening the outside world. And a small majority are even calling for EPO President Benoît Battistelli to quit.

[Picture]
Benoît Battistelli

87 percent are of the opinion that the EPO President is not doing a good job. The main reason is the fierce conflict between Battistelli and parts of the workforce. The dispute with the main staff union is causing alarm among industrialists, with 79 percent of the companies asked being seriously worried.

They see the responsibility for the misery resting largely on Battistelli. A massive majority of 96 percent say that the EPO President should be less confrontational in his dealings with the unions. The President’s efficiency strategy is hardly more popular: 71 percent of the companies see no sense in it, 4 percent are in favour, and the remainder withhold their judgement.

Only a minor reform

The structural reform of the EPO Court, which Battistelli and the Administrative Council have decided on is also an issue with the industrialists. The reform is aimed at the Boards of Appeal of the Office being split up and being able to act more independently. Not even a third of those asked were happy with this idea. 83 percent even wanted the Office court to be done away with completely, with 96 percent demanding that Battistelli should stop meddling in the concerns of the EPO court.

But this demand comes too late. The Administrative Council and the Office management are already putting the reform into effect. The decision about the first President of the Boards of Appeal was already decided on back in December: The Swede Carl Josefsson. Battistelli is obliged to assign him the powers needed by April this year, but even then Josefsson will remain dependent on the EPO President in matters of the budget and his re-appointment.

Calls to quit

The industrialists are hardly holding back when it comes to Battistelli. A small majority of 54 percent of the in-house representatives are even demanding that he should go. On the other hand, just on 40 percent are withholding their judgement. 8 percent believe Battistelli should stay. The Frenchman has repeatedly seen as being a spent force, but keeps bouncing back, and the strong backing he gets from the Administrative Council remains unchanged.

As well as that, Battistelli can also count on the fact that the criticism will have hardly any consequences on the patent application strategies of the companies. The corporate world gives the thumbs-up to the EPO itself, and its staff. Two-thirds of those asked are of the view that the EPO as a public authority is working. For 92 percent, the EPO and its European Patent continues to play a fundamental part in global patent application strategy.

On the other hand, industrialists are becoming increasingly concerned about possible quality problems as a consequence of internal squabbles, which have already beset the Office in Munich for several years. Only 46 percent of the survey participants are happy with the quality of the patent issue procedures, and 54 percent are not. And when it comes to the appeal process, a slight majority of 50.2 percent see problems with quality.

Suepo on the way out?

In the meantime, the signs are that wherever possible Battistelli is swinging the conflict with the staff union Suepo in his favour. Three leading union members announced their resignation a few days ago, among them Elizabeth Hardon from Munich, who is seen as one of the President’s main opponents.

Three union members, Hardon among them, had been suspended by Battistelli. They are embroiled in wearisome long drawn-out legal wranglings about the disciplinary procedures, with the threat at the end of their incomes and pensions being cut short. Another union member has been downgraded.

Sources close to the union were already saying early on that this tactic by the Office management could lead to Suepo not finding any successors, and the union may be on the way out.

On the other hand, this could lead to the unrest which is already widespread among parts of the workforce going on the boil again. In December the representatives of the 38 Member States of the EPO accordingly called on Battistelli as a matter of urgency to settle the conflicts with the union and the staff in the first half of 2017.

At the end of November 2016 the JUVE Editorial Board asked the managers of the patent departments of 168 international technology companies, among them German industrial corporations, middle-sized companies, and international technology giants. The companies represent all the important sectors of technology, and regularly file patens with the European Patent Office. All the results of the survey and a detailed analysis are available in the current JUVE Rechtsmarkt 2/2107. (Mathieu Klos)

Here is the corresponding (and more detailed) report in English:

In Focus: European Patent System

Called to account:

The management style of EPO President in office Benoît Battistelli is coming in for criticism from a wide majority from the industrial sector

Clear Orders

2017 is scheduled to see the start of the new patent system of the European Union. After some considerable squabbling to do with the European Patent Office (EPO) and the planned Unified Patent Court (UPC), the way is now clear for this to go ahead. But the industrial sector still has its concerns, and in the JUVE Patent Survey 2016 some clear expectations have been formulated for the people in charge at the Office. The industrial sector wants to see a unified court system that functions properly – and another style of management at the EPO, if need be without the President currently in office, Benoît Battistelli.

By Mathieu Klos

“The situation is really alarming, and for a European authority the working conditions for the staff are a scandal.” The manager of the patent department of a pharmaceutical giant isn’t pulling his punches. The authority in question is the European Patent Office (EPO), which together with the Unified Patent Court (UPC) is the central element in the planned European patent system. But even before the system has officially started there are already substantial signs of impending doom.

In the early summer of 2016 in particular, things came to a head – from the point of view of the patent legal eagles, too. In May, first of all it was the turn of the Enlarged Board of Appeal of the European Patent Office to give Office boss Benoît Battistelli something of a black eye, when they took the view that he had got too involved in a disciplinary procedure against an EPO judge. The most senior judges in disciplinary procedures refused to give their agreement to the removal from office of their colleague who had been suspended by Battistelli. The Administrative Council of the Office, which is actually the determinant body when it comes to disciplinary matters involving the Boards of Appeal, have no choice other than to reinstate the judge – at least in the opinion of experts. Up to now, a decision is still pending.

Method
At the end of November 2016 the JUVE Editorial Board for the first time conducted a survey of the managers of the patent departments of 168 selected international technology companies. These included German industrial corporations as well as middle-sized businesses and international technology giants, such as from Silicon Valley. The companies questioned in the JUVE Patent Survey 2017 represent all major technology sectors, and file patents with the European Patent Office. 14.3 percent of the persons contacted by JUVE took part in the survey.

Things aren’t running smoothly:
At the Munich headquarters of the European Patent Office, the conflict between the Office management and the staff union is overshadowing the work of issuing patents.

The case has added fuel to the already intense debate about the influence exerted by the management of the Office on the EPO court. Critics say that the court is not independent, and that its users are not granted adequate legal protection. The 38 Member States of the European Patent Organization, which operates the EPO, are accordingly tinkering with a reform. After more than two years squabbling, they agreed last June with the Office management on a reform package, but plainly without letting the EPO court have an entirely free hand. Half-heartedly, broad sections of industry have gone along with this, as has been shown six months later by a survey by the JUVE Editorial Board among patent department managers of global-scale technology concerns (For the Great Solution, page 100).

But it didn’t stop with the suspension of the judge. Suspensions of staff union members and protests by the workforce followed. The EPO was topic number one on the patent scene.

Until 23 June. When Britain voted for Brexit, suddenly the second key pillar of the system, the Unified Patent Court (UPC) took a wobble. Great Britain must ratify the UPC treaties in order for the Court, and with it the new EU patent, to get off the ground. Would the British Government, in the light of the vote, now still be ratifying the UPC treaty before exiting the EU? Patent experts were convinced the answer would be no.

Optimists were hoping that the UPC, in the best case scenario, would simply start work a little later, when Great Britain had left the EU, and the remaining EU States would start the system as a Continental European version. In any event, the prospects of establishing a European patent system in the near future, with uniform implementation before a single court, are once again slim.

End of the Mini-State
In this situation, the industrial sector is pinning a lot of hope on a unified court system, as the JUVE Editorial Board survey shows. 67 percent of those who took part are far from happy about the Brexit-incurred delay in the start of the UPC. But the system is not without its detractors; 25 percent regard the UPC and the EU Patent as damaging to the European patent system, and indicated that they were content with the interim uncertainty about the start date.

Nevertheless, the great majority are interested in a unified patent system in Europe. 62.5 percent of those asked would welcome a UPC, even without the involvement of Great Britain, and around two-thirds would even favour a new initiative if the UPC were to come to grief. This should, however, please be good enough to cover the territory of the European Patent Organization – in other words, the territory of 38 States. In the final analysis, what good does it do if the European patents from the EPO do indeed offer protection over an area which is substantially bigger than the European Union, but this protection can only be put into effect by courts at the national level.

The industrial sector made these feelings felt accordingly in the late summer, in particular in Brussels, and also pointing out that the Kingdom might well be excluded from the UPC system if London failed to express its intentions with regard to ratification. But London reacted to the pressure. At the end of November the British Government finally gave notice that it would be ratifying the UPC treaties, despite the Brexit vote. Sensation.

Since then, the Brits have seriously set about implementing the treaties. This is the British Government grasping at the last straw for allowing their home industry to enjoy unified patent protection in future on the EU Internal Market. Once Great Britain and Germany have concluded ratification, the Court will at long last be able to start work. Cautious estimates are looking at next October – but more likely a few months later.

What is not yet clear is whether the Kingdom can in fact continue to take part in the UPC after it leaves the EU. In legal terms, this appears entirely possible, but politically it remains uncertain. Leading European concerns, among them Siemens and Deutsche Telekom, said repeatedly in the autumn that they would prefer the UPC still to involve the participation of Great Britain. No captains of industry are willing to forego the skills of the well-versed British patent judges. In the final analysis, too, the new Court has strong associations with the British Common Law.

Dark clouds over Munich
So, while the future for the European Patent Court looks rosy again since the end of November, the industrial sector is still worried about the tense situation at the European Patent Office in Munich.

The ongoing conflict between the Office management grouped around EPO President Battistelli and sections of the workforce and the main staff union SUEPO, is causing alarm among leaders of industry. 79.2 percent of those asked are uneasy about how things are going, and they see Battistelli as largely responsible for the misery. An overwhelming majority of 96 percent believe that the EPO President should be less confrontational with regard to the unions; only 4 percent take the view that this is not an issue.

The European Patent Organization member states called on Battistelli as early as in February 2016 to settle the conflict with the unions by the summer of that year. It is true that in the interim Battistelli has indeed recognised a splinter union as a social partner; but despite the appeal, the Frenchman is still on a confrontational collision course with the main union SUEPO.

Union on the way out?
More than ever it is becoming clear that the conflict between the politically experienced and tactically adroit Frenchman and the management of the influential union is developing into a wearisome legalistic war of attrition, which it is possible the main union Suepo may not be able to maintain in the long run. In the meantime, one Suepo functionary has been downgraded, and three leading unionists have even been suspended from office, and will be facing disciplinary proceedings. And, because they usually end up before the International Labour Organization in Geneva, long drawn-out proceedings are threatened, with no clear outcome. The people concerned are worried about their pensions, and one of them is even concerned about how his wife and children are going to survive.

Almost the entire Suepo leadership is affected by disciplinary measures, which is a body blow for the union. “The signal from the President is unambiguous. Anyone who gets in the way of the Office and its management is putting their livelihood at risk”, according to sources close to the union. And some people in the know are going so far as to say that Suepo isn’t getting any new members.

The EPO Administrative Council has been concerned about the way things are going for a long time, but up to now has been unable to exercise any decisive pressure. According to the press release from its last meeting in December, the Member States are calling on Battistelli “to make rapid progress, as a matter of urgency, with regard to the social agenda”. The President of the Administrative Council and the Presidency of the Office are scheduled to work out joint specific proposals by June.

Quality above all
The internal wranglings could lead to a loss of quality. Representatives from industry have been voicing this fear repeatedly in background discussions with JUVE. Even now, only 46 percent of the survey participants are content with the quality of the patent issuing procedure – and 54 percent are not. And when it comes to the appeal procedure, a slight majority of 50.2 percent see quality problems as well.

As well as demotivated workers, corporate representatives also blame the efficiency strategy for the shortcomings. This is Battistelli’s flagship project. The aim is to make the Office fit for the future in the face of international competition. Patent examiners have complained to JUVE again and again about the time pressure imposed on searches. Attorneys and in-house legal experts criticise the fact that appeal procedures too often only follow formal criteria rather than the thorough examination of the novelty of an invention. One survey respondent demanded that “the entire system should be made to comply with technical and industrial criteria again”. In the end, it’s the patents that are at issue, not formalities.

For the Great Solution
For most industrial representatives, the reform currently underway at the EPO Court does not go far enough

Yes
No
Undecided

The structural reform of the Boards of Appeal will allow for more independence.
I would have liked a complete detachment of the Boards of Appeal.
President Battistelli should not meddle in the affairs of the Boards of Appeal.

Only a mini-reform
The industrial sector is also worried about the independence of the Boards of Appeal. 96 percent of those asked insisted that Battistelli should no longer meddle in the dealings of the EPO court. Many of them regard the case of the suspended judge as an example of the President exceeding his authority, as well as the introduction of performance-related assessment criteria and efficiency increases in dealing with cases.

Not even a third of those asked were in favour of the reform of the Boards of Appeal, which is intended to give the EPO court greater independence (For the Great Solution). 83 percent even wanted the court to be detached from the Office entirely. This call comes too late. The Administrative Council decided in the second half of 2016 on far-reaching measures to implement the reform compromise. The first President of the Boards of Appeal has been decided on, in the person of the Swede Carl Josefsson. The introduction of this post is an important part of the reform. Josefsson will in future run the Boards of Appeal both legally and administratively. The EPO President is assigning him the powers needed for this, but when it comes to the budget and re-appointment, Josefsson will have to depend on the President.

96% of those asked regard Battistelli as too confrontational.

Nevertheless, the Swede is seen by EPO judges as a source of hope. In the first place, he is a judge, and not, like earlier executives of the Boards of Appeal, an administration appointee. Secondly, he has come into the patent organization from the outside, and is accordingly regarded as neutral. Josefsson reports directly to the Administrative Council, but he will be working closely with the Boards of Appeal Committee. The Swiss Roland Grossenbacher is heading up the sub-committee of the Administrative Council, also a new creation. He is regarded as an opponent of Battistelli, and the two of them together could form a counterweight to the President.

Criticism of the EPO management
President Battistelli is doing a good job
President Battistelli’s efficiency strategy is a good idea
President Battistelli should resign…

but appreciation of the value of the Office

The EPO is an authority which works well.
The EPO plays a central part in the patent application strategy of my company
My company regards the present situation at the EPO as negative, and is strongly in favour of national patent applications

It has also been decided to separate the Court physically from the Office. In the summer, the Boards of Appeal will be moving out of the Inner City to Haar, on the eastern outskirts of Munich. Some of the judges are regarding this as a punishment by the Office management for their recalcitrant behaviour, but it could equally well prove to be the foundation stone for the structure of independence of the EPO court.

Change of leadership
The man who many experts regard as responsible for the misery is Benoît Battistelli. The Frenchman is causing polarisation, among other things because he is forcing through his efficiency strategy without yielding in the least, and it’s a strategy which the majority of the representatives of industry find doubtful, both in sense and purpose. Even more obvious is the rejection of their view by Battistelli’s management body. The Frenchman has no support among any of those asked (Criticism of the EPO Management …). A slight majority of the in-house representatives are even calling for Battistelli to go.

Several times it has looked as if the Frenchman has shot his bolt, but every time he comes bouncing back, and the strong support he gets from the Administrative Council still appears to unbroken, including after its last session before Christmas.

As well as that, Battistelli can also count on the fact that the criticism will have hardly any consequences on the patent application strategy of the companies. The industrial world turning away from the EPO, a fall in the number of patent applications, and resultant lower earnings would be the things that would undermine Battistelli’s position. Two-thirds of those asked, however, take the view that the EPO is working (… but value estimation for the Office), despite everything. This can also be seen as praise for the workforce. For 92 percent of the representatives of industry, the Office continues to play a central part in their patent application strategy.

This support for the Office and its European Patent is encouraging, because in the final analysis, it will be the Munich patent authority which will be issuing the new EU Patent. Its Boards of Appeal will be largely the people responsible for deciding on the quality of the patents, and it will be the UPC which then decides on infringements or nullity. But the Office management, the Administrative Council, the staff and their unions, will all continue to be called upon to work with one another without any scandals – with or without Battistelli. And in any event, with a new culture of togetherness.

From what we can gather so far, the EPO’s strategy/response to this survey has been something like pretend it does not exist, hope nobody notices (certainly not delegates!) or starts asking questions about it. Will Juve go into Battistelli’s “enemies list” and start receiving threats too (in order to ensure this does not happen again)? Remember what happened to BR after it had aired a programme which showed the truth about Battistelli’s reign of terror (with human casualties).

Translation: Battistelli’s Patent Office Remains a Legal Island

Posted in Europe, Patents at 9:30 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Image and translation by SUEPO

Eppo König article

Summary: SUEPO’s translation of the above article, which speaks about the EPO’s immunity from the law — an immunity it now exploits to reinstate its notorious reign of terror in the Netherlands [1, 2]

THE VERY FIRST article we found about the Dutch court’s decision on the EPO we translated and published on the 20th of January. A very similar article was published in print (see above) and SUEPO has a translation of it. The author, Eppo König, is already familiar with the scandals, having written about them before, e.g. in [1, 2]. Here is SUEPO’s translation:

SUPREME COURT

Battistelli’s patent office remains a legal island

The European Patent Office, based in Rijswijk, has been widely criticised. But courts in the Netherlands cannot intervene.

By our editor
Eppo König

AMSTERDAM. Can an employer in the Netherlands have employees interrogated by a private detective without a solicitor? Can they dismiss trade-union leaders or reduce their
salary or pension? Can they refuse access to the Labour Inspectorate if a suicidal employee jumps from a window of the office?

All this has happened at the European Patent Office in Rijswijk. And Dutch courts cannot pass rulings relating to the patent office. The Supreme Court confirmed this on Friday morning, in a long-awaited ruling. As an international organisation in the Netherlands, the patent office is immune, according to the Supreme Court.

In other words, the patent office is a kind of legal island in the Netherlands. The Supreme Court ruling is significant for all forty international organisations in the Netherlands,
including the International Criminal Court and the European Space Agency. For the patent office trade union SUEPO, this is a major setback.

Well paid employees
The office approves patent applications and grants patents that apply in all 38 countries who are members. With customers including Philips, Samsung, LG and Siemens, the patent office
is important in protecting the European market. The office has 7000 specialised, well paid employees in Germany, Austria, Belgium and the Netherlands.

The patent office is also infamous, thanks to the temperamental French president, Benoît Battistelli (66). The president has now been at war for years with the SUEPO trade union,
which says it represents half the staff but is not officially recognised. Last year, three trade- union representatives were dismissed and three others were demoted. SUEPO has denounced the work pressure, the authoritarian management and the legal position of the employees.

Emails blocked
The battle intensified when the Court of Justice in The Hague ruled in early 2015 that the office could not limit strikes, block emails from the trade union and must recognise the union. Then Minister of Justice, Ivo Opstelten (VVD), ordered that the judgement should not be implemented, however, in order to guarantee the immunity of other international organisations: a very unusual situation.

The patent office appealed to the Supreme Court on this matter, with the support of the Dutch state, which acted as a party in the case. The Netherlands does not want to drive away other international organisations, as that would be bad for its reputation as well as its economy. Battistelli smartly reminded the cabinet last year that his office creates ‘1 billion euro’ in revenue in the Netherlands and is investing ‘250 million euro’ in new high-rise development.

The Supreme Court has now rejected previous judgements by the preliminary injunction court and Court of Justice in The Hague. The rights of employees are already sufficiently protected by the internal disputes procedure. They can also appeal to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in Geneva.

But this disputes procedure is shaky and the road to Geneva is a long one, say employees. Only one solution remains, said SUEPO’s lawyer Liesbeth Zegveld, before the Supreme Court’s ruling. “Proceedings against the Dutch state, as the violation of trade-union rights is taking place on Dutch soil. Is the state doing enough to prevent this? The answer is no.”

During a conversation with State Secretary Van Dam, Battistelli left in anger

Exploitation
Next month, there will be a parliamentary debate on the working conditions. During a parliamentary debate last month, the patent office was already criticised by the SP and D66 as well as the ruling PvdA and VVD. The PvdA gave the example of the exploitation of Libyan and Sudanese employees in London. Didn’t a British court rule in that case that the European Convention on Human Rights weighed more heavily than ‘diplomatic immunity’? The conflict has forced the Netherlands to confront a strange dilemma. The state supported the patent office in the courtroom but, at the same time, the cabinet is critical. State Secretary Martijn van Dam (Economic Affairs, PvdA) recently expressed his concerns about the ‘difficult relationship between unions and the top management’ in a letter to parliament. During the introductory meeting between Van Dam and Battistelli last year, the Frenchman left in anger.

The Dutch patent world is also concerned, says an Economic Affairs spokesperson. The Netherlands is represented at the office by Derk-Jan de Groot, director of the Netherlands Patent Office. Together with other important patent countries, such as Germany, France, Sweden and Switzerland, the Netherlands is among the critical member states. The problem is that the Administrative Council of all member states, the highest body, is too large and diverse to come up with a solution. Last year a revolution seemed to have broken out, when 26 of the 38 member states (with 12 abstentions) called a halt to Battistelli’s actions. They demanded arbitration in the conflict, an end to ongoing proceedings against trade-union members and reformation of the punitive measures. But almost all proposals were delayed, so that the situation ‘has not yet improved’, according to an Economic Affairs spokesperson. One member of SUEPO, who was at home with stress, was then dismissed. It seems as if all parties want to wait out Battistelli’s second term, until 30 June next year. The patent office welcomes the ‘confirmation of the legal immunity’ by the Supreme Court and ‘will continue to strive to strengthen the social dialogue’, says a spokesperson.

A couple more translations were published by SUEPO today and the next post will be about those.

Battistelli Judges Himself to be Excellent, in the Same Way Other Autocrats Judge Themselves to be Benevolent

Posted in Asia, Europe, Patents at 8:57 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

A tyrant’s yardstick that emboldens the tyrant

Carte de con

Summary: Battistelli’s EPO has become so full of lies and “alternative facts” that a rebuttal is needed on a regular basis

THE year 2016 was an important year for the EPO. It was the year that just about anything the EPO publicly said was a lie. Battistelli himself did a fine job as the Liar in Chief. Workers of the EPO know what we mean by that. They are smart people, obviously too smart to believe their management’s lies.

“What liars like Battistelli conveniently don’t mention is that any such EPO ‘growth’ is just queue elimination (which won’t last long anyway).”Yesterday we saw this article titled “The EPO Raises The Bar”. The article discusses one particular aspect and one particular decision, but to say that “The EPO Raises The Bar” is almost laughable. It is certainly misleading because in every aspect the standards have been lowered at the EPO, in order to create false ‘growth’. We wrote quite a lot about this back in 2015 and in earlier months the following year.

Another new article, this one from Barker Brettell LLP, says that “European patents granted soar by 40 per cent in 2016″. That’s actually a lie. Not even the EPO itself has claimed that steep an incline. To quote: “2016 proved to be a busy year for the EPO, with more European patents granted than ever before. Information from the EPO database suggests that more than 97,000 patents were granted in 2016, up from around 69,500 in 2015 – a 40 per cent increase.”

“To use an analogy, for the EPO to claim big growth is very much like for fishermen to deploy massive drift nets, empty the ocean, then claim “success” (never mind if fish can no longer reproduce and the stock has been depleted to the point of extinction).”What liars like Battistelli conveniently don’t mention is that any such EPO ‘growth’ is just queue elimination (which won’t last long anyway). Layoffs will ensue if this carries on like that, never mind the bad service and low patent quality this trajectory entails. To use an analogy, for the EPO to claim big growth is very much like for fishermen to deploy massive drift nets, empty the ocean, then claim “success” (never mind if fish can no longer reproduce and the stock has been depleted to the point of extinction).

Yesterday we also found this nonsense from Shelston IP, a firm whose dishonesty we wrote about many times before, e.g. [1, 2, 3].

“Cambodia is a joke in this context, as it has no European patents at all.”“Given the importance of Australian/Asian economic ties,” it says, “it may interest our clients to hear that the European Patent Office (EPO) has recently signed a deal with the Cambodian government that paves the way for European patent applicants and patent right holders to extend their European rights to Cambodia.”

Cambodia is a joke in this context, as it has no European patents at all. As of today, there is also this announcement from Amnesty International titled “Cambodia: Drop Farcical Investigation of Human Rights Defenders”. It sounds as though they speak about EPO and SUEPO. To quote: “In a joint statement, Amnesty International, Civil Rights Defenders, Human Rights Watch, and the International Commission of Jurists call on the Cambodian authorities to immediately drop the politically motivated criminal investigation of human rights defenders Am Sam-at and Chan Puthisak. Sam-at, a respected human rights monitor at the Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO) for nearly 20 years, and Puthisak, a land rights activist from Boeung Kak Lake and former prisoner of conscience, have been accused of instigating violence at a 10 October 2016 peaceful demonstration.”

“When is it (again) the time of the year for this propaganda mill to produce the “alternative facts” for Battistelli to present in an awkward YouTube video?”Maybe it’s time for Battistelli to just relocate to Cambodia, the former French colony which became renowned for mass genocide at the hands of a self-justifying monster who had studied in France. As these people are now allies of the EPO and Battistelli’s spin department (the regime’s Ministry of Truth), perhaps they’ll have better luck lying to the people of Cambodia. Employees of the EPO generally regard the latest Cambodia announcement as somewhat of a farce. It shows what their employer has basically sunk to. As for Shelston IP, they have been very dishonest and manipulative for a number of years and right now they are also upset about the Productivity Commission of their country stating the fact that software patents are not desirable. Shelston IP tried to lead a lobbying campaign against the Productivity Commission last year, but now it’s just ranting endlessly in a blog. If facts were on their side, they would pound with facts. If law was on their side, they would pound with law. As neither is on their side, all they do is pound on the table. And they stigmatise themselves as terrible a bunch of liars as Team Battistelli.

Speaking of Southeast Asia and liars, watch what IAM is writing about this week. When is it (again) the time of the year for this propaganda mill to produce the "alternative facts" for Battistelli to present in an awkward YouTube video?

The European Patent Office Officially Dishonours Justice, So It’s Time for SUEPO to Become Clandestine

Posted in Europe, Law, Patents at 8:15 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Is the European Court of Human Rights the next stop for this megalomaniac and autocrat?

EPO screw is loose

Summary: The war waged by Battistelli against his own staff escalates even further as the reign of terror continues, some believe as means of scaring the union leaders until they resign or lose their voice, let aside their independence which is long gone

THE ORIGINAL idea behind a civilised, reputable EPO is that it should honour rules/guidelines, but not even its President can honour his very own rules (Code of Conduct). To make matters worse, this so-called ‘President’ treats so-called ‘judges’ (a phrase from Donald Trump this week, for those who don’t follow US politics) like clowns that can be flagrantly ignored at will. Even the highest court in the Netherlands is being treated like a joke or a circus by Battistelli and his manic protectors. Trump’s disdain for judges is well-documented (like calling a US-born judge Mexican, then dismissing his judgment because he wasn’t pleased with his supposed background, or more recently firing the Attorney General for saying exactly the same thing that dozens of other judges/solicitors have ruled since). Battistelli is allegedly hoping to be the head of UPC, which is a theoretical framework that would issue judgment enforceable in Europe and beyond! Only a lunatic would give the EPO — and more so Battistelli — any additional legal powers. His Napoleonic mindset belongs in the Dark Ages.

When the EPO came into existence it already had a staff union. SUEPO in fact predates the EPO itself (subjected to definition) and it exists to ensure that the staff plays a role in decision-making. Under Battistelli, however, just about every high-profile member (notably leader) of SUEPO was warned and/or severely punished. Battistelli simply refuses to grasp the concept known as “separation of powers” — a problem which also extends to other parts of an Organisation he does not even lead (e.g. the appeal boards). He threatens and witch-hunts even his own overseers, most recently Roland Grossenbacher.

Lately, SUEPO members/leaders were apparently so mortified that they resigned. Shortly afterwards Team Battistelli went on the prowl/attack again, targeting yet another person in a raid that might resemble East Germany [1, 2].

Yesterday, judging by this comment, it became apparent that some brave SUEPO members/leaders might pursue their battle with Battistelli in Strasbourg, where Battistelli’s right-hand man already faces corruption indictments. The comment said: “So what happens now? Having exhausted all available routes under national law in the Netherlands, can SUEPO take an alternative route and sue the EPO and/or the Dutch government in the European Court of Human Rights?”

Another person said that “a case against the Netherlands at the ECtHR would be the most obvious next step…”

Yes, I would imagine that a case against the Netherlands at the ECtHR would be the most obvious next step… hence the reference to Strasbourg in my earlier comment.

The case law of the ECtHR (including Matthews v. The United Kingdom) would seem to be in SUEPO’s favour. Also, the Supreme Court’s judgement, combined with ILO-AT’s judgement 1542, would appear to make it possible for SUEPO to ask the ECtHR for a ruling.

It should now be obvious to all that the EPC lacks the checks and balances that might enable a (single) Council of Europe Member State to ensure that it meets its obligations under the ECHR (with regard to the EPO employees in its territory). In theory, this could lead to liability (at least for EPO host states) for entering into an international agreement that contravenes the ECHR.

Indeed, I believe that it is very important that the ECtHR provides a ruling on this point… otherwise it will establish a precedent whereby Council of Europe Member States can escape their obligations under the ECHR merely by setting up international organisations (and providing them with immunities) for the purpose of conducting activities that would otherwise be illegal within the territories of those Member States.

The following followup rightly points out the political angle/aspect, which we have already commented on in articles like the following:

Dutch authorities must be afraid that if Battistelli is held accountable, then this might somehow scare other international institutions that are grounded on Dutch territories (they can always relocate to Geneva, for instance). Here is the comment:

Given that they will have read the lower court’s decision, the Supreme Court clearly was aware of this point. Also, it is hard to believe that SUEPO would not have raised the very same point in their arguments before the Supreme Court. However, the thing that I find hardest to believe is that the Supreme Court would gloss over this point by using one of the most unconvincing excuses I have ever seen.

Never let the legal niceties get in the way of a politically loaded judgment …

“Reign of Terror” wrote about our articles:

Yes, I would imagine that a case against the Netherlands at the ECtHR would be the most obvious next step… hence the reference to Strasbourg in my earlier comment.

Dream on. As reported on Techrights Battestelli’s IU goons are on the prowl in the The Hague. Do you seriously think that anyone will risk taking such a court action under these circumstances?

Some time ago we already said that it’s time for SUEPO officials to go fully or partially clandestine. Given the constant attacks by a lunacy-ridden President and abusive high-level management, SUEPO would fully justified in doing so.

The following comment says that if the “President is taking action that is deliberately designed to stop SUEPO,” that would be “almost verging on the criminal.”

To quote:

Are you suggesting that Monsieur le President is taking action that is deliberately designed to stop SUEPO (or intimidate SUEPO against) initiating new legal actions? If so, then that is a very serious allegation indeed.

Taking advantage of overly-broad privileges and immunities granted to you is one thing. Going beyond that, by taking action specifically designed to deny individuals (or a union) access to justice in respect of rights enshrined in the ECHR would be something quite different… almost verging on the criminal.

Here is the reply:

Are you suggesting that Monsieur le President is taking action that is deliberately designed to stop SUEPO (or intimidate SUEPO against) initiating new legal actions? If so, then that is a very serious allegation indeed.

Yes that is exactly what I am suggesting.

Taking advantage of overly-broad privileges and immunities granted to you is one thing. Going beyond that, by taking action specifically designed to deny individuals (or a union) access to justice in respect of rights enshrined in the ECHR would be something quite different… almost verging on the criminal.

And what are you going to do about it?
Call the cops ?

At the EPO, another person wrote, “[t]o extrapolate to campaigns of terrorising is a large step.” Well, how so? It has exactly that effect. Staff officials (representatives) are afraid of management, instead of management being afraid of staff officials. They got it all backwards. To quote:

Indeed there is hyperbole and there is Hyperbole! I’m not sure what the IU rumours are but I’ve not heard anything untoward recently. Of course, investigations are by mgt decree secret and to reveal is to offend but there is one generally known case currently which does not appear to be controversial from what has leaked out. To extrapolate to campaigns of terrorising is a large step. The real problems should not be diluted by a misguided (or perhaps worried) reaction.

“SUEPO insider” then said…

wrt ECHR: guys let them breathe. They have to held elections in MUC and TH and there is 6 months from the date of the High Court jugement to lodge the complaint there.

Trust them : good things come at the right time

We certainly hope that this will be escalated to ECHR because not only the EPO is at stake but every international institution and Europe’s reputation are at stake. This is why we are willing to spent so much time and effort covering the subject.

The Debate About Software Patents Grew Increasingly Dishonest, Front Groups AIPLA, PhRMA and ABA Try to Restore Them

Posted in America, Deception, Patents at 7:19 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Self-serving front groups of the patent maximalists want more patent chaos

The profit motive

Summary: The patent microcosm is racing to salvage that dying old system which yielded many thousands of lawsuits per year, many of which were initiated by patent trolls and were frivolous by intention (but focusing on small companies that cannot afford legal defense)

NOW that advocates (profiteers) of software patents are in a state of disarray (ad hominem attacks as the last resort) we would like to draw some attention to various new bits that highlight their tactics.

David Boundy of Cambridge Technology Law LLC, for example, is taking shots at PTAB (yesterday’s guest post at Patently-O) and milking Cuozzo to challenge the status quo of restrictions against software patents. To quote the conclusions:

The full paper gives a number of other examples of questions that come out differently depending on whether they’re argued as patent law issues or administrative law issues. There are many differences between the powers of an Article III court and of an agency tribunal, differences between appellate review of an Article III court vs. judicial review of an agency, differences in the arguments that an appellant and appellee can raise, and differences in limits on raising new issues on appeal. Unfortunately, Cuozzo’s brief did not exploit those differences or cite the applicable administrative law.

The key take-away is that almost every PTAB proceeding and appeal presents a “target rich environment” of administrative law issues. Teams that include administrative law expertise will successfully exploit many opportunities that are invisible to teams without that expertise.

Because of internal tensions in the Cuozzo decision, many issues remain to be decided by the Federal Circuit, and will be decided differently depending on how well parties match their argument turf to courts’ choice of decision turf.

The Cuozzo patent case was covered here many times before. See for example:

Yesterday we wrote about how IBM (through IPO as a front group) lobbies for software patents and at around the same time we also became aware of AIPLA, PhRMA, and ABA doing something similar. As MIP put it a few days ago: “The American Intellectual Property Association (AIPLA), Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) and the American Bar Association (ABA) each responded to the USPTO’s review process with remarks detailing the impact of decisions Alice and Mayo has had on their respective members and industries.”

The problem is, these front groups don’t respresent ordinary businesses. They represent the patent microcosm and large corporations. These are naturally patent maximalists, who profit from people getting sued over alleged infringement of patents (many cannot even afford going to court to demonstrate their innocence). The above groups don’t want patent scope to be narrowed; to them, the more patents, the merrier. The USPTO will hopefully not be foolish enough to overlook that simple fact. Alongside the USPTO, PTAB is thankfully crushing software patents and other patents on abstract concepts like business “methods”. See new blog posts such as “COVERED BUSINESS METHODS PATENTS — NOT SO BROAD!” or “The Challenges of Protecting and Commercialising IP in Casino Games”. Everyone with some common sense can agree that patents on thoughts (or thought process) and patents on games are truly outrageous. Strategies are not something that should be monopolised.

To quote something more sane, for a change, here is EFF poking fun at the latest “Stupid Patent of the Month” (which is a software patent, as usual). To quote:

Song lyrics are some of the most searched-for topics on the Internet. This has lead to fierce competition among lyrics sites. If you scroll to the bottom of one of these websites, you’ll see the claim: “Song discussions is protected by U.S. Patent No. 9,401,941.” We are honoring this “song discussions” patent as January’s Stupid Patent of the Month.

The patent (we’ll call it the ’941 Patent) is owned by CBS Interactive and discloses a “computer-implemented system” for “processing interactions with song lyrics.” It explains that other websites display lyrics in a “static form” and suggests there is a “lack of mechanisms for increasing the engagement of users with song lyrics.” The patent suggests allowing users to interact with lyrics by allowing them to “select[] a segment,” displaying a “menu of options,” and allowing the user to enter an “interpretation of the selected line.”

The patent dates back to an application filed in February 2011. Although it is 23 columns long, in our view the patent does not describe any software or Internet technology that was remotely new or innovative at that time. Rather, it describes common and mundane features, such as a “menu of options,” “user-inputted text” and a “user interaction database,” and applies these features to a lyrics website. That should not be enough to get a patent.

The EFF has done some reasonably effective advocacy against patent trolls recently. Sometimes it even speaks explicitly about (and against) software patents. Together with TechDirt they have been publishing their series of “Stupid Patent of the Month”, even in the face of legal threats (and action) against both sites. As a reminder, one "Stupid" patenter sued the EFF, one charlatan who claims that he invented (and decades later patented) E-mail sued TechDirt (the EFF is defending TechDirt in this case), and that same charlatan threatened me too.

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