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11.13.17

The Patent Trolls’ Lobby is Losing the Battle for Europe

Posted in Europe, Patents at 11:52 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

UPC boat sinks

Summary: The situation in Europe is looking grim for patent trolls, for their policies and the envisioned system (which they lobbied for) isn’t coming to fruition and their main casualty is the old (and functioning) EPO

THE European patent framework had worked for decades; it worked a lot better before a “disruptive” Battistelli came in and decided to break the EPO, violate the EPC, and promote the UPC in Paris. It’s almost as though Battistelli was assigned/delegated the task of making Europe more attractive to patent trolls.

IAM’s editor, supported by the EPO and funded by patent trolls such as this, gave a helping hand and platform to the patent trolls' lobby (most latterly on SEP policy in Europe). We wrote about this on Friday. He was apparently speaking to the trolls’ lobby over the weekend; he was looking for information about the outcome and came up with a slanted headline that spins a non-decision. This is what he says happened on Friday:

A meeting held last Friday inside the European Commission between various directorates-general that was supposed to finalise the wording of a keenly-anticipated Communication on the licensing of standard essential patents broke up without resolution, IAM has learned.

[...]

The Communication was due to be made public on 29th November, but this latest development must put that date at risk. Although not a legally-binding document, a paper from the Commission outlining its views on SEP licensing for the age of 5G and the Internet of Things would be extremely influential, not only at the negotiating level, but also in courts hearing SEP-related disputes. This is even more the case given that, up to now, Europe has been seen as taking a much more balanced approach to SEP and FRAND issues than the US and many Asian jurisdictions, where the needs of technology implementers have gained the upper hand over those of the entities that created the technology in the first place.

We wrote about this lobby last month as it’s about software patents too. They just use buzzwords like “5G” and euphemisms such as “FRAND” (which means the very opposite of what this acronym stands for).

Why are software patents even being entertained at all in Europe? The matter was supposed to have been settled and dusted a dozen years ago. Well, when dealing with a patent office which is effectively above the law (immunity) and routinely breaks the law, then it seems abundantly clear that no rules apply. It’s a lawless affair.

At the moment, the EPO delivers crappy “products” due to Battistelli (he treats public services as though it’s a business) and now, with decreasing demand for these services, fees go down too. Watch AA Thornton & Co’s Alex Hughes sucking up to Battistelli and boosting his blog post. This is from a few hours ago: “There are also plans to extend the agreement providing cost reductions for SMEs and universities, and to reduce the fee that the EPO charges to national offices who outsource search work to the EPO. Additionally, the EPO proposes not to apply inflation-based fee increases in 2018-2020. We congratulate the EPO for these proposals and await confirmation in December.”

The EPO has been trying to associate itself with academia and SMEs lately. It’s merely a publicity stunt — one that AA Thornton & Co is keen enough to perpetuate.

EPO insiders have been speaking for quite some time about declining patent quality and substitution of domain experts with ‘machine operators’ that are rushed to rely on automated scans of applications (like a registration office, a la INPI almost).

One such program we already wrote about earlier today. Comments have begun to appear, starting with:

Shocking that the EPO don’t reply instantly. Luckily the Kats have access to a broad community for obtaining information for their work.

Here is a translation of the pseudo-jargon/marketing:

“The purpose of (semi)automatic search is to automate as far as possible the search process and eliminate all non-value added steps for examiners at the beginning of the search workflow.”

Or rather, the purpose of semi-automatic search is to de-skill the task of patent searching so as to enable the highly skilled and experienced examiners to be replaced by unskilled workers on short term contracts.

“Sounds like it should be re-named “NO ANSERA”,” said the next comment.

Like “Early Certainty” it’s just cheapening of what used to be a decent workflow involving several domain experts and a long window for oppositions, appeals, etc.

That old system is no more. Battistelli threw some of that system at Haar.

Will any of that be fixed next year? Don’t count on it. As we explained a few days ago, Battistelli's 'heir' will continue along similar lines. Don’t pay too much attention to spammy sites (primarily advertisements disguised as articles). One of them said today that the “New EPO president looking to cooperate with USF,” but that’s not the same as cooperating with SUEPO or giving dismissed SUEPO heads their jobs back. The article is mostly quoting the letters again (nothing new there). For instance:

In October, SUEPO said it was willing to embark on a road of “fruitful cooperation” with Campinos, provid there was “respect by top management for the rule of law”.

In his reply to the USF, Campinos—while not referring directly to SUEPO—said he had “always prioritised human resources matters” and “developed an open and fruitful relationship with the representatives of the staff and their associations” during his tenure at the EUIPO.

He added: “In this sense, I look forward to continuing the cooperation between the EPO and the USF once I take up my duties as president of the EPO next year.”

What about SUEPO? Or as this comment put it 3 days ago, what about the stakeholders (emphasis below)? To quote:

The words are nice, but facts matter. If no real improvement of the staff situation at the EPO follow soon, then the new president will not get staff behind him, and the struggle will continue. The EPO does not need a manager, but a leader!

It is also in the interest of the IP world as a whole, that changes have to come, and especially the run for production/productivity has to stop.

If the new president wants to improve the situation, he will also have to listen to the users of the EP system. The EPO is there to help its users, not to decide what is good for them without consultation. The various publications of Mr Bausch on this blog (I-IV) are worth reading again.

The Boards of Appeal have to obtain a level of staffing commensurate with their duty.

Last, but not least, the idea of giving renewable 5 years contracts to examiners and legal staff dealing with procedural aspects, should be dropped instantaneously. If the new president endorses this policy, then it will be a sign of how little he values these functions, and he will stay as a mere manager, but not show that he can be a leader.

The outgoing president has not even be a manager, but for his own benefit and that of his cronies.

In summary, no SEP trap, no UPC, and thus less of a litigation mess. Unfortunately, however, there is also no patent quality, no safety for the career of sophisticated patent examiners, and no prospects for an important office which helps determine Europe’s competitiveness.

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