02.28.17

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Does the EPO Want Patent Quality to Decline Against the USPTO and Become Akin to SIPO?

Posted in America, Asia, Europe, Patents at 7:46 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Anything goes with crooked management like this

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Summary: The EPO, which is trying to convert a patent system into a cash cow rather than a public service, risks losing public support and an applicants base (where it hasn’t lost it already)

PATENT quality and scope (inherently similar things) have been a concern of ours predating Battistelli at the EPO. There just doesn’t seem to be the same aspiration to quality that there used to be. It got even worse under Battistelli (compared to Brimelow and her predecessors) and the Administrative Council, a bunch of spineless chinchillas, just doesn’t seem to genuinely care. It mentions “quality” every now and then, yet it takes no practical steps to assure it. The last meeting of the Administrative Council barely even brought up the subject and the next one, which is just weeks away, seems unlikely to even have it on the agenda. Battistelli continues to rely on his propaganda mill, IAM, to deny the issue with dubious surveys.

“After the US patent office ruled against the University of California in its battle for key patents on the CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing technology last week, UC put on a brave face.”
      –California Healthline
As people who read this site closely enough (not just EPO matters) would have noticed, the USPTO aided by the AIA gifts (notably PTAB) is growingly picky and selective on CRISPR — essentially patents on life. Read this new article titled “University Of California Faces Uphill Climb In CRISPR Appeal”. To quote: “After the US patent office ruled against the University of California in its battle for key patents on the CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing technology last week, UC put on a brave face. It might appeal the decision, it told reporters. It might settle for the patent it originally filed for, in 2012, and live with the fact that the Broad Institute, which prevailed at the patent office, gets to keep crucial patents that UC challenged. Unfortunately for UC, a public institution that could really use royalty and licensing revenues from CRISPR patents, experts in intellectual property suspect that even its fallback positions are no more solid than shaving cream.”

“How many more patent applications will the EPO receive in the long run when attorneys need to tell clients that the EPO has gone awry?”Other publications too wrote about it this week [1, 2], as did we. Just see our Wiki and some of the latest things we wrote about the topic, culminating in PTAB’s actions against CRISPR [1, 2, 3] (last covered yesterday). A couple of days ago we received an alert about this press release titled “European Patent Office To Grant CRISPR-Cpf1 Patent To Broad Institute, MIT, And Harvard University” (disappointing).

So the USPTO and PTAB make sceptical moves towards or against CRISPR, but the EPO under Battistelli (where examiners are under stress and are urged to reject of grant everything, as fast as possible, without sufficient research) does the opposite. What are applicants supposed to think? Yesterday I spoke to a highly-ranked university professor about this. He seems to be aware of what goes on at the EPO and he has informed his university. How many more patent applications will the EPO receive in the long run when attorneys need to tell clients that the EPO has gone awry? Job applications (and quality thereof) have already nosedived. How many applicants out there already prepare to just pursue patents at the national patent offices (NPOs)? We’ve heard from a few.

To quote from the press release: “The European Patent Office (EPO) has announced it intends to grant its first CRISPR-Cpf1 patent to the Broad Institute, MIT, and Harvard University, based on a patent application filed in June 2015.”

Intention to grant and actual grant are not the same thing. Is this some sort of “early certainty” thing? Where people make decisions before they actually make decisions? Or make semi-official determinations without actually doing the work involved? This is Battistelli’s legacy. There are many other bad legacies, including a plethora of abuses and one might say “corruption”. Yesterday the EPO wrote about EPO procurement, telling people nothing about dodgy contracts and lack of tenders at the EPO. Also yesterday, the EPO said: “Join us on Wednesday for our free webinar on recent & upcoming law changes in India!”

“If firms take these patents to court and then find out that these patents are worthless (and invalidated on the spot), what good is the EPO’s service to them?”Well, India has rejected software patents, whereas the EPO defies EU decisions if not orders to reject them. What does that say about the EPO? An entity above the law, no doubt! What can ever stop it? In Europe, pressure at all levels has perpetually attempted to stop the EPO’s software patents (erroneous grants) and where has it gotten us? Battistelli is doing whatever he want. In India, by contrast, the pressure from the politicians and large corporations is to actually grant software patents, but the patent office managed to skirt them off or drive them away (time after time over the years). The Indian patent lobby, writing in IAM right now (a patent maximalist and his colleague Sunil Kumar Tyagi), offers tips for bypassing limitations. We recently wrote how India had adopted a process for speeding up applications of those with deeper pockets (the EPO did this first) and this one says: “Most patent applications in India are granted after amendments are made to the patent claims; there are few cases in which patent applications are allowed with no claim amendments. To speed up the examination process, claims can be amended on a voluntary basis or in response to objections raised in an examination report. This means that applicants can either file a request for voluntary amendment along with the associated fee or wait until the examination report is issued.”

We certainly hope that whistleblowers inside the EPO will share stories with us about the decline of patent quality at the Office, with or without intent to make the information public (some people already tell us about this, but we cannot make public any of the details as that might jeopardise these sources). Dissent is strong inside the Office, partly because insiders believe they are being pressured to hastily grant patents they would not otherwise grant. If firms take these patents to court and then find out that these patents are worthless (and invalidated on the spot), what good is the EPO’s service to them? For small companies, scenarios such as these can render them insolvent as patents are expensive to pursue and maintain (renewal), never mind the legal fees associated with litigation.

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3 Comments

  1. One of those... said,

    February 28, 2017 at 1:27 pm

    Gravatar

    An intention to grant is the end of the examination procedure at the EPO, usually.
    This information gets sent to the applicant, with a list of things he stilll needs to do: file tranlsations of the claims into the other languages (DE, FR, EN), pay the grant fee, check the text of the current application and whether he agrees to the text as it is, ….
    If all is done, the grant gets published, if not, the file goes with comments to the corresponding department, whether financial (not paid – deemed to be withdrawn), request to amend text (examining division checks whether amendments are acceptable),…

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Thanks for clarifying this.

  2. DustinDeTorres said,

    March 1, 2017 at 10:11 pm

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    wonderful resource. The European Patent Office offers Espacenet as a free tool for beginners and experts to perform patent searches for inventions and technical

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