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09.04.18

A Retreat From Patent Quality Means a Retreat of Patent Applicants

Posted in Australia, Europe, Patents at 7:54 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

They would not spend a fortune pursuing patents that courts would likely invalidate/reject for the same reason students would not apply for colleges and universities whose degrees aren’t respected by employers

Walking feet

Summary: Walking away from patent offices that grant patents too easily (even patents that have no legal standing) is an existential threat to these offices; by tarnishing a reputation of patents which they grant patent offices can soon thereafter perish, as the EPO demonstrates (ongoing ‘shadow’ layoffs)

EARLIER THIS WEEK Romania Insider published “Only five out of a million Romanians own European patents,” referring to European Patents (EPs) granted by the EPO. It’s not so crazy to argue that EPs just aren’t worth the money anymore because the EPO got corrupted by a bunch of self-serving crooks and as a result examination cannot be properly and thoroughly performed (as it ought to). There’s not enough time to do the work, as insiders keep telling us, and veteran examiners are quietly being laid off. They’re not even being replaced as there’s a longterm hiring freeze and those with greater experience are being pushed out. This is a major scandal like nothing we’ve ever seen at the USPTO (the EPO actually makes the USPTO look very, very good and ethical in comparison).

Jakob Pade Frederiksen’s new guest post at Managing Intellectual Property deals with “checking [of] patent text” by applicants. A poorly quality-controlled examination meant that a lot of work (such as researching prior art) had been offloaded to applicants; examination by the Office was killed by Battistelli anyway; he doesn’t seem to have had an interest in anything other than speed or pace (or P.A.C.E.) because it’s just ‘printing’ patents as fast as possible that counts as “success” based on his yardstick (so-called ‘productivity’). The article in question cites the European Patent Convention (EPC) — a fundamental document (like a Constitution) that long ago lost its relevance because the EPO stubbornly deviated and violated it ever so routinely. Battistelli treated it like toilet paper — something which never bothered Jesper Kongstad, who actively participated in violating the EPC until his government (based on rumours we heard) effectively fired him. To quote:

Pursuant to Rule 71(3) of the European Patent Convention (EPC), towards the termination of the examination proceedings, the Examining Division of the European Patent Office (EPO) shall inform the applicant of the text in which it intends to grant the European patent. Following Rule 71(5) EPC, if the applicant subsequently pays the grant and publishing fees and files the required translations of the claims, he shall be deemed to have approved the text intended for grant.

[...]

The applicant’s attempt to reinstate the missing parts of the claims did not thus succeed, despite the fact that it was the EPO’s Examining Division that included an incomplete set of claims in the text intended for grant.

Examiners barely have time to deal with underlying texts; they read the texts and some are experienced/qualified enough do more and go further (it gets worse over time due to brain drain).

“The European Patent Organization (EPO) has issued an “Intention to Grant” for Europharma’s SuperSmolt FeedOnly,” The Fish Site said yesterday. “EPO has reached its conclusion after an extremely thorough assessment process,” but we doubt that! Based on what insiders have told us and based on leaked material, there’s simply no time for an “extremely thorough assessment process” because one risks losing one’s job for doing the job properly (i.e. proper examination, which can take time and effort). From the article:

The European Patent Organization (EPO) has issued an “Intention to Grant” for Europharma’s SuperSmolt FeedOnly, which offers feed-based smoltification of salmon, eliminating the need for the growth-inhibiting winter photo period associated with traditional hatchery smoltification.

[...]

“The decision will not change much in terms of our daily work and focus but we are pleased to have achieved the recognition from the EPO for our innovation. We have worked on smoltification over many years and put significant resources into developing SuperSmolt FeedOnly. The EPO has reached its conclusion after an extremely thorough assessment process and its decision is an acknowledgment of the innovative qualities of this product.

They would be deeply disappointed if they took someone to court only to discover that this patent is void and thus worthless (e.g. due to prior art or the fact that they arguably patent nature — probably an impermissible thing in Europe).

Beata Khaidurova (FB Rice, i.e. the patent microcosm in Australia) is meanwhile whining and crying because it has gotten harder to get patents on life in Australia. Managing Intellectual Property gave her the platform to say that the “Change to Patent Examiners Manual creates uncertainty” (as readers may recall, Australia recently narrowed patent scope):

It is a long-standing principle of Australian patent law that determining whether or not a patent application is directed towards patentable subject matter should be done separately to determining issues of novelty and inventive step. However, amendments to the Australian Patent Examiners Manual late last year introduced a new practice, encouraging consideration of prior art when assessing subject matter eligibility, which in Australia includes the requirement that the invention be a manner of manufacture. A year on, it seems that this supposed clarification to the Manual has only resulted in confusion and uncertainty about what role prior art plays in determining the existence of patentable subject matter.

[...]

While the recommendation remains in place, it seems that the issue of patentable subject matter for software-related inventions in Australia has become more problematic than ever for patent applicants. There is a glimmer of hope, however, in the form of a number of appeals currently afoot in the Australian courts, which seek to overturn some recent Patent Office decisions regarding patentable subject matter, and hopefully steer the law in a more reasonable direction. With many members of the Australian patent attorney profession being in agreement as to the lack of legal support for the Manual’s recommendation, the outcomes of the appeals are eagerly awaited.

What Khaidurova calls a “reasonable direction” is actually lawyers’ direction. They want more and more patents; it is, after all, their bread and butter. They’d probably want bread and butter patented as well! Patent Docs, another site of patent maximalists, has meanwhile published another “Life Sciences Court Report” (the term "Life Sciences" is misleading for reasons we've named before). Bryan Helwig reiterated: “We will periodically report on recently filed biotech and pharma litigation.”

They typically just promote patents on life and nature — something which Australia grapples with. How can life and nature be considered "inventions"?

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