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10.08.18

When It Comes to Patent Quality António Campinos Might be Even Worse Than Benoît Battistelli

Posted in Europe, Patents at 1:42 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Scraping the bottom of the barrel to fake ‘growth’ (number of patents, not innovation or market expansion)

António Campinos as wolf
António Campinos in sheep clothing

Summary: The lack of genuine interest in the quality of European Patents is perhaps a greater threat to the whole of Europe — if not the whole world — than well-documented human rights abuses and corruption inside the Office; António Campinos has shown no interest in improving patent quality as he denies such a problem even exists and he reduces transparency

THE promotion of software patents in Europe by the EPO is something that has definitely increased under António Campinos. We wrote about this many times before. The difference is very notable. Never under Battistelli was such promotion of software patents in Europe so frequent.

“Never under Battistelli was such promotion of software patents in Europe so frequent.”Last night Kluwer Patent Blog anonymously published this piece about “the first hundred days of EPO president António Campinos” and to quote some bits from it:

Despite the positive signs in the first hundred days, it is clear that Campinos will still have to show what his ambitions and abilities are. This blogger found it was very hard to get information from EPO employees. Under Article 19 of the Service Regulations, they don’t feel free to say anything about their work because it can lead to all kinds of sanctions. The climate of fear has not disappeared. It means that despite the new president’s invitation to speak out, people may be reluctant to do so.

In this respect: it seemed such an improvement that the president opened his blogposts for comments. But not one single reaction has appeared online. This cannot be because nobody has an opinion about the EPO, can it? It would certainly help Campinos’ ambition to hear what people have to say about his organisation, if comments were published below his blogposts or, at least, it was clear what happens with them.

[...]

A very questionable case which is still pending as well concerns Patrick Corcoran, an Irish board of appeal member who was suspended in December 2014 on suspicion of having distributed defamatory material about the EPO upper management. No less than three and a half years later the ILOAT ruled that Corcoran should be immediately reinstated in his former post (see here and here) and the Landgericht München acquitted Mr. Corcoran of all charges. However, as his term at the Boards of Appeal was almost over and was not extended by the Administrative Council, Mr. Corcoran was effectively hindered to resume his work as an appeal board member and was demoted to become examiner again. On top of that, Battistelli decided to have Corcoran transferred to another specially created post in The Hague, where the judge had never lived, which meant one additional significant and unwarranted hardship for him.

These cases are widely considered as a darker part of the legacy of former EPO president Benoit Battistelli. If António Campinos deals with these in a way which is seen as appropriate and correct, this will certainly strengthen the cautiously positive first impression the new EPO president made in his first hundred days.

There’s no doubt that when it comes to staff relations, at the very least, Campinos has been vastly better than Battistelli. That’s because he hasn’t done or even said that much. Campinos has thus been no worse than a lamppost, either. In that regard, transparency at the EPO actually decreased under Campinos and layoffs aren’t being talked about (not even the longterm hiring freeze). There’s not much of a dialogue or a communications channel. It took Campinos several months to just meet staff representatives. Campinos believes that in order to avoid conflict he needs to avoid talking or, failing that, he should 'politely' gag those who speak out. It’s called “soft power”; he’s a “brutal(ly honest) gentleman”. Like the leadership of China, which employs very similar tricks (reducing transparency and quelling dissent proactively)…

“There’s no doubt that when it comes to staff relations, at the very least, Campinos has been vastly better than Battistelli. That’s because he hasn’t done or even said that much.”Speaking of China and patent quality, mind Sunday’s post from Watchtroll’s Paul Morinville about his software patents, which the US gave up on (unlike China, which explicitly permits these). “In recent years,” he claimed, “the U.S. government has gutted the U.S. patent system. For small inventors like me, the U.S. patent system no longer works. There are no longer contingent fee attorneys or Angel investors willing to fund startups, so my patents and the patents of so many like me just languish. And since patents are a wasting asset, the clock runs on the patent’s term, which eventually make even breakthrough and groundbreaking patented innovations completely worthless.”

He’s just complaining because his patents are software patents. Those weren’t of value anyway; the USPTO should never have granted these.

Unfortunately, under Campinos, buzzwords like “AI” or “4IR” are being publicly boasted as means by which to patent software. Every seemingly-clever algorithms can be ‘dressed up’ as “AI”, so it’s clearly just a loophole they’re creating. Even patents on life itself are being granted under Campinos. He has done nothing on the matter. Nothing.

“This is just wrong as it perpetuates patent maximalism and greed rather than justice.”Remember a firm called Asha Nutrition/person called Urvashi Bhagat at the EPO? This was recalled in relation to PTAB quite recently and four days ago Watchtroll entertained the person; Watchtroll says “Denying Patents on Discoveries Puts Public Health at Risk” (the headline), but patenting things that are required to save lives denies/limits access to those, putting far more lives at risk. Very shallow spin. Harvard, we might add, bragged about patenting life itself a few days ago. As for the EPO, it recently (earlier this month) dealt with patents on barley/beer. It didn’t invalidate these patents. Remember that, in light of the above-mentioned Patrick Corcoran affair, Campinos has done absolutely nothing to restore the independence of the Boards of Appeal; they’re still at his mercy as Office President. This is just wrong as it perpetuates patent maximalism and greed rather than justice.

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