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10.01.18

EPO Under António Campinos an Unprecedented Booster of Software Patents

Posted in Europe, Patents at 5:14 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

NASCAR sponsorsCorporate front group, not much of a patent (examination) office anymore

Summary: The conventions upon which the EPO was founded have been thoroughly and entirely abandoned; all the EPO exists for right now is the granting of as many patents as possible and it hopes to get all the patent courts in the EU under its control, too

THE EPO recently promoted software patents in the United States, where courts say no to such patents, whereas the USPTO ignores the courts (their new Director is a lot like Battistelli; he ignores court orders or at least precedence).

“The EPO under Campinos is a patent maximalism organisation, not even distinguishable from WIPO anymore.”What about António Campinos? Well, ever since his term commenced we have been seeing a huge number of software patents ‘advocacies’, at least in official tweets. Today was a relatively quiet day, so we lack examples from today. The EPO said: “This year the Office celebrates a string of anniversaries in European patent information. They are testimony to the EPO’s staying power as the world’s leading provider of patent information.”

EPO ‘celebrates’ while staff is in chronic depression and many commit suicide. As for leadership in the world, it isn’t clear if the EPO can still claim that. All it does is promotion of low patent quality, occasional lip service to SMEs (which it discriminates against), and weekly greenwashing of European Patents. Earlier today we saw this new article which is a placement for EMW principal James Geary — an article that’s interjecting some UPC propaganda as follows:

UK-based commercial law firm EMW has noted that the patents filed for solar power, wind energy, biofuels, hydropower, geothermal energy and waste-generated energy have nearly doubled over the last five years.

[...]

Geary further noted: “However, there are concerns that the US could see a drop in patenting ‘green’ products as the Trump administration looks to cut government research spending in the industry.

“The slight rise may also be in part due to concerns about the effect that Brexit may have on the proposed European Unitary Patent system.

The Unitary Patent system is dead irrespective of Brexit and its implicit goal (amongst others) is to bypass national courts, national patent laws etc. and impose EPO-type patent standards on the whole of the EU. This may also mean — inter alia — software patenting and prosecution.

If it wasn’t bad enough that the EPO kept granting software patents in Europe (like the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office doing so in spite of 35 U.S.C. § 101), now comes the Intellectual Property Owners Association with its echo chamber of patent extremists. The EPO was there too; it wrote quite a lot about this in advance, so it is hardly surprising that it’s found among the zealots, who also lobby for software patents. Suzy Madar (King & Wood Mallesons) has just published the following:

Regis Quelavoine, Director of Mobility and Mechatronics at the European Patent Office, then struck fear in the hearts of the audience, by indicating the danger of using words in a claim relating to computer implemented inventions that will put one of the 45,000 examiners (that will almost certainly have a PhD) into a frame of mind – within five minutes of considering the claims – that “this is a business method patent, how do I kill it?” instead of “this is a technical solution to a technical problem – how do I grant this application?” He said that claiming the “how“ rather than the “what“ will increase the likelihood of the application falling into the 15% or so of computer implemented invention applications that are granted. The following heated discussion from the audience suggests that great minds will differ in relation to which side of the line a claim will fall, which US attorneys seemed to think was an unsatisfactory position.

Laurence Lai, writing in Kluwer Patent blog today, shows that the EPO adopts buzzwords like “cloud computing” to justify granting software patents (other buzzwords too are being exploited). To quote:

The European Patent Office published an advance preview today of its annual update to the Guidelines for Examination which will come into force on 1 November 2018. Here are the main changes and what they mean for users of the European patent system:

[...]

6. Claim formulation for cloud computing

A new section formalises current practice that multiple claims in the same category, e.g. device or method, are allowed for claims directed to distributed computing systems which generally include a server and a client device. It is often desirable to draft separate claims for each side of a distributed system to more easily cover activities of an infringing party.

The EPO has set out that separate client and server claims, as well as one for the whole system, may be allowed to appear in one application for the same reasons as plug and socket claims – they are interrelated products. Each independent claim would have to stand on its own in terms of novelty, inventive step and clarity as normal.

Any pretense that the EPO respects the EPC should have evaporated by now. The EPO under Campinos is a patent maximalism organisation, not even distinguishable from WIPO anymore.

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