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10.04.18

Europe is Getting Flooded With Software Patents, Repeating the Mistakes Made by the United States

Posted in Europe, Patents at 8:13 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Europe on Earth

Summary: Today’s EPO is totally neglecting any perception or aspiration for patent quality; even abstract ideas are being enshrined as European Patents and examiners are compelled to play along, even in clear defiance of the European Patent Convention (EPC), also known as the Convention on the Grant of European Patents of 5 October 1973

THE EPO is not supposed to allow/award/grant software patents in Europe. António Campinos most certainly knows that, but he doesn’t care. Since his term had started the EPO relentlessly promoted software patents like no time before. Even the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is tougher on software patent applications, owing to 35 U.S.C. § 101. At the USPTO examiners don’t risk losing their job for rejecting these.

“At the USPTO examiners don’t risk losing their job for rejecting these.”The EPO’s management has learned the tricks; it instructs the applicants to use a bunch of mindless buzzwords like “AI” and then threatens examiners who see past the buzzwords (more or less every computer algorithm can be ‘spun’ or framed as “AI” because the concept is rather broad and vague).

The game of buzzwords isn’t limited to the West; China plays that game as well, Korea’s KIPO uses buzzwords made up/shored up by the EPO, and Singapore’s IPOS is among these corruptible patent offices that use buzzwords like “IoT and AI” to give teeth to abstract and likely bogus software patents. Here’s an example from yesterday, an “[i]nterview [with] Daren Tang of IPOS on office initiatives, AI and Belt and Road” (“AI” again, in the summary below as well). To quote:

The head of the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore discusses IP trends in Singapore and ASEAN, including challenges spurred by IoT and AI, and innovations to capture Belt and Road Initiative opportunities

Nowadays patents get granted on all sorts of algorithms, including in the research domain I come from (computer vision). Here’s an example from last night.

“Nowadays patents get granted on all sorts of algorithms, including the research domain I come from (computer vision).”The EPO goes even further than most patent offices in enabling software patents. As we explained earlier this week, the EPO has lost any sense of shame and nowadays it's just openly promoting software patents under the guise of "AI". Here’s a new report about it: [via]

The European Patent Office (EPO) has published a preliminary update of its guidelines for examination, including changes for provisions relating to the patentability of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning.
Under the new provisions, real-world technical applications of AI and machine learning are patentable, as are inventions relating to inventions specifically adapted computer hardware.

However, according to Alex Korenberg, partner at Kilburn & Strode, the provisions mean that fundamental advances in AI and machine learning that are not specific to any application or hardware remain unpatentable.

So they’re just granting more and more monopolies on algorithms in Europe. As Benjamin Henrion quotes, calling it the “EPO’s technical tautology” (citing what we cited earlier this week): “However, restriction of the claim to a specific technical purpose and/or a specific technical implementation may impart technical character onto the AI algorithm and thus the invention may be considered patentable by the EPO.”

That’s ridiculous. They’re just granting patents on algorithms because of buzzwords and actively advising applicants to take advantage of this loophole they’re created.

“In practical terms Campinos has changed nothing at all since Battistelli left his penthouse.”Over in the US, back on September 13th, a site called Visual Capitalist was calling software patents “AI” once again; it’s one among those many articles advising applicants to bypass the limitations imposed by the courts, even if the courts rather than examiners will reject such patents anyway.

IAM, a loud proponent of software patents and a partner of the EPO, has just advertised an event it hashtagged “Software IP Patent” (as in software patents by another name because US courts nowadays reject these).

It’s not hard to see whose agenda is served by all this. It’s also not hard to see the role of Campinos, even if he (characteristically) keeps quiet and keeps himself in the background. In practical terms Campinos has changed nothing at all since Battistelli left his penthouse.

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