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09.15.18

António Campinos Needs to Listen to Doctors Without Borders (MSF) et al to Salvage What’s Left of Public Consent for the EPO

Posted in Europe, Patents at 4:16 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

What would António’s father have said, having campaigned against imperialism/colonialism in Angola (where poverty kills and denies access to medicines that are relatively cheap to manufacture)?

Health in Angola
Reference: Health in Angola

Summary: Groups including Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and Médecins du Monde (MdM) have attempted to explain to the EPO, with notoriously French-dominated leadership, that it’s a mistake to work for Gilead at the expense of the public; but António Campinos is just another patent maximalist

PATENT offices are inherently scientific institutions (anything around examiners at these offices is merely a bureaucracy or a distraction), so nothing good can come out of an EPO and USPTO that are run by a banker and a lawyer, respectively. Prior to Frenchman António Campinos the Office was run by another Frenchman — a politician who lacked experience in this domain until his mid fifties. The USPTO will occupy much of our time the rest of this weekend (its Director was actually born in Hungary), but this post will be about Mr. Campinos, whose family background is very much relevant to his career because his father was a prominent politician, a campaigner against Portuguese colonisation in Angola (we wrote about this in great length more than a year ago). We’ve twice before mentioned the decision regarding a controversial patent which would likely kill many people in Angola. It’s a European Patent, which the Office under Campinos insists on upholding after Battistelli’s Office granted it (the application itself can be traced back to the days another Frenchman, albeit an actual scientist, was the President).

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) issued the following statement yesterday:

The European Patent Office on Thursday ruled against patient and provider groups in 17 countries that had challenged Gilead’s unmerited patent on the hepatitis C drug sofosbuvir. The decision, following a hearing today in Munich, will keep more affordable generic versions of the medicine out of reach for people across Europe and beyond.

This hearing follows a legal challenge filed by patient and treatment provider organizations from 17 European countries, including Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), Médecins du Monde (MdM), and several other groups.

Gilead initially set the price for the oral drug sofosbuvir, which forms the backbone of most hepatitis C combination treatments, at $84,000 per 12-week treatment in the United States—a staggering $1,000 per pill. In countries where MSF is treating people with hepatitis C, including Myanmar, Cambodia, India, Pakistan, Mozambique, Uganda, and Kenya, sofosbuvir is currently being procured from generics manufacturers for less than $100 for the same treatment course. The exorbitant price of sofosbuvir and the way its price has led to rationing of this drug has stirred an intense debate on the pricing of patented medicines in Europe.

There’s some more in there (mostly quotes). Médecins Sans Frontières is a former client of mine (at my employer, where we worked on backups for them) and if given a choice between the EPO and MSF, I’d always choose MSF because people there are mostly volunteers who try to make the world a better, healthier, safer place.

Jorge Campinos and groupWhere does Mr. Campinos stand on the matter? Is he becoming the antithesis of his father? It sure feels like it sometimes. The father (left) died a very long time ago (a car accident in Mozambique in 1993), so he’s not around anymore and cannot guide his son, except ‘in spirit’.

We kindly ask António to have a good think about the kind of EPO he wants to lead. Does he serve billionaires or does he serve medics whose aspiration is to save lives? Having served large and controversial banks in the past, we tend to believe that António gravitates towards the former, as did Battistelli. The other French President was a professor who had practised in the field of medicine; surely he would know the ramifications of granting the patent Gilead sought when he was in charge of the Office.

Jorge CampinosGoing back to the senior Campinos (on the right), we also ask António to rethink abstract patents. Is he willing to defy the EPC and European Parliament? Software patents advocacy by the EPO has only increased in frequency since António Campinos came (well over a hundred tweets; we cannot even mention them all or keep count anymore). In that regard, he is even worse than Battistelli. The EPO now liaises with lobbyists of software patents and then brags about it; the EPO has done that almost every day for about a week now! Here is the example from yesterday: “If you’re a patent attorney, and particularly if you work in the field of ICT, then you might be interested in this free-of-charge event we’re holding in London..”

“It’s not only a spit in the face of people who crafted the EPC but also existing European politicians. The EPO not only exploits immunity; it actively boasts about it.”Wow, “free-of-charge” lobbying. Makes one wonder who benefits…

It’s no secret by now that Team UPC in the UK (the CIPA front group) is promoting software patents; this is an abomination and insult to the European institution. It’s not only a spit in the face of people who crafted the EPC but also existing European politicians. The EPO not only exploits immunity; it actively boasts about it.

On Friday at around noon the Campinos-led Office not only bragged about working with/for CIPA but also a US group of patent zealots. It’s called IPO and it aggressively lobbies for software patents in the US (i.e. against Section 101/Alice). Its seminar in Chicago, along with the EPO, was advertised yesterday by the EPO. The EPO has advertised it almost every day for a number of weeks and it has also promoted software patents under the guise of “AI” for about that long. Here is the example from yesterday: “Experts discussed how the EPO deals with the challenges of AI in patent applications at this recent conference…”

“António is an example of people who climb the ‘career ladder’ or get promoted merely for serving those in power. People like the billionaires behind Gilead, who some argue have blood on their hands.”Well, “AI” is just another algorithm type/framing. I know this having worked in that domain for many years.

What we’re sadly seeing here is yet more evidence that Campinos is at least as much of a patent maximalist as Battistelli was. Quality of patents isn’t going to improve. Yesterday they promoted Inventor Award 2019 not just once but a couple of times [1, 2]. Will next year’s ceremony also be held in France, where Campinos was born, where Campinos studied, and where his mother comes from? France was the venue of choice almost half the time (there are dozens of EU member states) and last year Battistelli shoved his hand in the cookie jar, pulling out millions of euros and sending these to the municipality where he now works. Corruption is an understatement. Corruption such as this is what Campinos is actively or at least passively covering up every single day he walks into the Office while failing to address it. His father would not have been proud. Even at EU-IPO his son António served only the greedy and self-serving. António is an example of people who climb the ‘career ladder’ or get promoted merely for serving those in power. People like the billionaires behind Gilead, who some argue have blood on their hands. Gilead profits like mad for denial of treatment or for very selective treatment that deliberately excludes the poor (to keep cures out of reach, fiscally). It’s all about artificial scarcity and they know it.

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