03.10.17

After EPO Sanctions Against IP Kat (Censorship of More Than 10,000 Articles) Even Merpel Throws in the Towel

Posted in Europe, Patents at 5:46 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

War on journalism and even on blogs

EFF bloggers

Summary: For gagging purposes, the EPO has been threatening both journalists and bloggers, hoping to induce self-censorship; this appears to have worked against IP Kat

THE EPO scandals used to be regularly mentioned and talked about at IP Kat (not just when promoting the UPC, as it last did earlier this week).

Several people we speak to have long wondered about the silence on EPO scandals. The last blog post about it was a two-part series several months back and prior to that in the summer of 2016. What happened around that time? Last year in June the EPO engaged in collective punishment against anyone affiliated with the site. All blog posts (ever!) got censored. Just like that!

“Last year in June the EPO engaged in collective punishment against anyone affiliated with the site. All blog posts (ever!) got censored. Just like that!”Techrights has been censored for a number of years by EPO and the reason they gave for this bears a legally-charged term, “defamation” (as if they intend to sue us any time). But we’re far from giving up; all of these developments make us ever more eager to cover it more ferociously, as there is clearly a need for it (need for information in the age of pervasive terror and darkness in the transparency/secrecy sense).

This morning Merpel wrote a final post about the EPO. In it, Merpel agrees that quality of patents obviously nosedived*, putting in jeopardy many companies all across Europe (these patents can be weaponised against those who cannot afford a legal fight, i.e. justice). Even those that fight back against EPs are not guaranteed safety. As a case of point, consider this new promotional ‘article’ about (or from) a company that goes around demanding payments from many companies. It has just had a patent upheld by the EPO, at an era when appeals are too expensive, too rushed, and enjoying no independence from the wrath of Battistelli (by the appeal boards' own admission, which they openly state even in the EPO's site, not just AMBA's). “Innovations4Flooring (I4F) reports that it has won a European Patent Office (EPO) opposition case against the Unilin group,” says the ‘article’. Innovations4Flooring sounds like a classic name for a patent troll or a company that is centered around patents, not products, but let’s leave that aside for now…

“Things started to be quiet on this topic after IP Kat had been sanctioned by the EPO.”“Most of the damage,” Merpel writes, “has now been done with many of the harmful changes already implemented. Several of SUEPO’s committee have stepped down, and now Merpel feels the time is right for her to do the same. She has many other calls on her time, and now she wishes to spend some more time with her kittens. She will from time to time write about other matters, but she will no longer be covering the situation at the EPO. ”

This is sad. Things started to be quiet on this topic after IP Kat had been sanctioned by the EPO. Prior to that, the EPO sent quite a few threatening letters (based on the fact their letter to me had the wrong name, as shown here before), probably to reporters too, not just to hobby bloggers like us. It wasn’t the first time either; it was done even in the early days of Battistelli. One mustn’t forget how the EPO responded to BR, or Bavarian TV, after local television said the truth about at least some of the suicides (blaming the EPO). All that legal aggression strives to make it inconvenient, costly, and maybe even scary to write negatively about the EPO. We’ve heard about publishers/editors who got cold feet over it.

Is this why Merpel has been quiet? We’re not sure, but certainly there may be an element of “chilling effect” after the EPO engaged in collective censorship against not only Merpel but also her colleagues.

“In spite of approximately 40% of the comments in the blog being about EPO scandals (and that is in spite of IP Kat never writing articles about it anyway), nobody among the writers seems willing to touch the subject anymore.”The first comment on Merpel’s post says it all really: “So a European IP blog is no longer going to be covering one of, if not the, biggest ongoing issues in IP in Europe? Or is somebody else other than Merpel going to start covering the crisis at the EPO for the IPKat?”

Well, the other person who occasionally wrote about it has already retired (end of 2015). It’s hard to think of anyone else in that blog who is familiar enough with these matters to properly cover them. EPO workers are not likely to trust such people enough to send them information, either.

In spite of approximately 40% of the comments in the blog being about EPO scandals (and that is in spite of IP Kat never writing articles about it anyway), nobody among the writers seems willing to touch the subject anymore. It’s what gave the blog the biggest readership ever. Now it’s all just buried. Cui bono? Benoît Battistelli. Is The Register next on the EPO’s “SLAPP list”?
____
* Covered here in four articles so far:

  1. EPO Record Low on Quality of European Patents (EPs) in 2016
  2. The European Patent Office is Wasting Its Already Limited Budget on Misleading Press Releases/Paid-for Coverage That Overlook Sharp Decline in Patent Quality
  3. Latest EPO ‘Results’ Should be Grounds for Immediate Dismissal of Battistelli Rather Than Celebrations
  4. ‘Evil Tongues’ Inside and Outside the EPO Explain Why Battistelli’s 2016 ‘Results’ Are Bad While the Media Mindlessly Repeats EPO Management’s Talking Points
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