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The Patent Microcosm’s Embrace of Buzzwords and False Marketing Strives to Make Patent Examiners Redundant and Patent Quality Extremely Low

Posted in Europe, Patents at 2:54 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Patent maximalism defeats the very purpose of patent systems


Summary: Patent maximalists, who are profiting from abundance of low-quality patents (and frivolous lawsuits/legal threats these can entail), are riding the hype wave and participating in the rush to put patent systems at the hands of machines

THE USPTO keeps tightening patent scope (more on that later today), whereas the EPO goes in the opposite direction and broadens the scope of patents. This is a recipe for disaster and it puts at greater threat plenty of European businesses. Not law firms, but actual European businesses.

“This is a recipe for disaster and it puts at greater threat plenty of European businesses.”Sadly, a lot of policy decisions are steered by lawyers, not scientists, and law firms rather than actual European businesses (which make things) have leverage over law. That’s how UPCA managed to get as far as it has.

Yesterday we saw another dumb idea resurrected, owing to a lot of hype. “We are going to continue hearing for some time about #blockchain methods being applied to #patent transactions and procedures,” said a patents person from the US. We were recently told similar things about “AI”. The craze over these things (especially in the media) is troubling; not only is “AI” not a new thing but it’s also not so Earth-shattering. Something as simple as patent searches (based on text and word density, textual patterns etc.) can already be framed as “AI”. The more one knows about the origins of the term, the more easily one accepts that almost any algorithm can be painted “AI” (given the will/motivation). As for blockchain, it’s not a buzzword but an actual implementation or set of implementations (based on the concept of blockchains), yet there’s plenty of hype around it.

“The craze over these things (especially in the media) is troubling; not only is “AI” not a new thing but it’s also not so Earth-shattering.”Alexander Esslinger responded to a commenter (context being the above) by stating: “Blockchain could provide a global, distributed, immutable, time-stamped invention disclosure register independent of patent offices, fees, and formality requirements…”

Algorithms, however, cannot quite correlate patents based on words and images. SUEPO already explained, repeatedly in fact, why this would never work. Marketing hype seems to have charmed non-techies and now they believe that some algorithms make examiners obsolete. Maybe they can, to a degree, do as well as low-trained, no-experience examiners, but they cannot replace domain experts like professors in their respective field.

“Algorithms, however, cannot quite correlate patents based on words and images. SUEPO already explained, repeatedly in fact, why this would never work.”Then came the “AI” hype (again). Esslinger wrote: “A blockchain-based time-stamped invention disclosure register together with AI-enabled prior art search could in the future significantly change the way patent offices work – after over a century of basically unchanged procedures…”

“You overestimate “AI” based on the latest hype wave,” I told him. “Battistelli did the same thing, thinking he can replace domain experts with lousy algorithms [that are a] self-deluding trap. Quality slips, people use different wording to dodge prior art matches…”

Examiners at the EPO and elsewhere ought to watch out. Patent attorneys, to whom patent quality does not seem to matter (they profit from abundance of low-quality patents), are all fine and dandy replacing examiners with algorithms. Having programmed for more than two decades, I can tell for a fact that many of these capabilities are grossly overstated for marketing purposes. Whether Battistelli falls for the marketing because he’s dumb or greedy (i.e. for purely economic reasons) is not a judgment for us to make.

“Some people conveniently forgot what patent systems are about or were made for. To them, the more patents get granted, the better.”Languages are many; thousands! Among those, maybe a dozen are commonly used in patents (over 90% of all patents). To believe that correlation of text, where terminology can vary across languages and even within one single language (e.g. “car”, “vehicle”, “transportation”, “auto”), would somehow capture underlying ideas is absurd. Some have gone as far (off the deep end) as to suggest that we should also allow machines to actually generate (using so-called ‘AI’) patents, rendering the whole patent pool so polluted that it would be meaningless and inaccessible for human ‘consumption’.

‘Patentism’ is like a religion. Some people conveniently forgot what patent systems are about or were made for. To them, the more patents get granted, the better. As the old saying goes, “Too Much of Anything Is Bad For You” (even patents).

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