09.02.17

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‘Building the Evidence Base on the Performance of the UK Patent System’ Put in Perspective and Threats From Patent Maximalists

Posted in America, Europe, Patents at 9:22 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Building the Evidence Base on the Performance of the UK Patent System

Summary: Analysis (however short) of the new report from UK-IPO and lobbying by law firms from the US to expand patent scope not only in the US but also Europe

TECHRIGHTS is not a job to me. It’s an expensive hobby (I run it at my own expense). I’m a software person. I’m thankful for the fact that here in the UK software patents aren’t much of an issue; it’s the UPC that threatens to bring them here, hence the opposition from British software companies.

IP Kat‘s latest “Friday Fantasies” by Hayleigh Bosher (usually a weekly roundup) spoke about the UK-IPO’s report [PDF] and unlike Bristows and Managing IP (UPC boosters), the Kats don’t spin it as a UPC thing. Unlike the Unitary Patent (UPC) zealots, they don’t pretend there’s something in it about the UPC. Here is the relevant bit:

UK patent system: Building the evidence base, a new UK IPO Report

The UK IPO has produced a report titled ‘Building the Evidence Base on the Performance of the UK Patent System.’ The research considers the UK patent system through a range of sources including stakeholder interviews, analysis of data, and existing academic literature, looking at how companies patent in the UK, who patents in the UK, and how the UK system compares to other countries.

The report suggests that overall the operation of the UK patent system is positive. The number of patents covering the UK is high; however, UK firms appear underrepresented in patent applications, with a lower proportion of domestic applicants than other countries.

Notice the comment from Barbara Cookson. “The UK IPO name and shame procedure is best for foreign parties with no real business or assets in the UK,” she said. Here is her full message:

A costs order from the IPO against an English entity can most conveniently be enforced through IPEC using the district judges that man the small claims track. A statutory demand is a bit OTT unless there is reason to believe the company is insolvent and would be better struck off. If you prefer a simple life at the desk you could just do a money claim online for the debt but the court fees are higher and if the defendant does not pay you are still back with enforcement. The Money Claim Online works with a UK company that is solvent and really does not want any judgements against it and simply has not paid because its peeved by the decision. The UK IPO name and shame procedure is best for foreign parties with no real business or assets in the UK to enforce against.

In the case of software, naming and shaming isn’t even necessary. Copyright does the job. Plagiarism of code is a serious abuse and in the case of Free/libre software there’s the aspect of copyleft licence compliance.

Fenwick & West LLP, propagandists for software patents (see for example this or that), are doing a think tank/lobbying event with EPO in it. A few days ago this came up:

As traditional biomedical research and data science have converged, we have seen an influx of patent application filings in this newly developing space. The prepar​ation and prosecution of these cross-disciplinary patent applications have posed unique challenges and there remains a great deal of uncertainty and confusion around certain patentability challenges both in the United States and the European Union. In this highly informative program, our panel of examiners from the US Patent Office and the European Patent Office will do a deep dive into the roadblocks that precision medicine and bioinformatics patent applications can face. We will also cover the main differences between the EPO and the USPTO and address how to best navigate them in the current legal environment.​

This event is 19 days away. What they’re basically pushing for is expansion of patent scope or workarounds that bypass the restrictions/boundaries. Fenwick & West is part of the patent ‘industry’, so all it wants is lots of patents and litigation that accompanies these. That’s pretty much what the UPC too is all about.

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