EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

10.13.18

Quality of Patents Granted by the EPO is Still Low and Nobody Will Benefit Except Lawyers, Jubilant Over Growing Lenience on Software Patents

Posted in Europe, Patents at 10:18 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Get your money ready, there’s tax to be paid through law firms

100 bucks

Summary: Deterioration of patent quality at the EPO — a serious problem which examiners themselves are complaining about — is becoming rather evident as new guidelines are very lenient on software patenting

THE EPO under António Campinos — like the USPTO under Director Iancu — seems to have no concept or understanding of patent quality. Maybe they just fail to appreciate the importance of patent quality, instead assuming that the goal is to grant as many patents as possible, i.e. generate as many monopolies as possible, then — in turn — generating as many patent lawsuits as possible.

The issues associated with software patents in Europe have been covered here for a dozen years. We covered various court cases that dealt with such patents in Europe, including in the UK (Symbian was a famous case). Sara Moran at Kluwer Patent Blog has just highlighted what happens when some European patents or patents granted in Europe (not necessarily European Patents) turn out to be bogus, fake patents. “The Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal filed by Cubist against the Patents Court decision that one of its patents relating to antibiotic daptomycin was invalid for obviousness,” she wrote. So nobody benefited from this case other than lawyers. It was a total waste of time.

European Patents (EPs) of Qualcomm were mentioned in this blog post just before the weekend: [via]

Munich I Regional Court throws out Qualcomm patent infringement lawsuit against Apple: no infringement

[...]

The Munich I Regional Court (“Landgericht München I” in German) just announced the first final judgment on a Qualcomm v. Apple patent infringement complaint anywhere in the world. Apple (and, by extension, Intel) fended off one of various Qualcomm patent infringement lawsuits.The court agreed with Apple’s claim construction.

A few months after the Federal Trade Commission of the United States and, in a separate case, Apple sued Qualcomm over antitrust and contract-related matters in January 2017, the San Diego-based company that dominates the market for cellular baseband chips started a patent infringement lawsuit campaign against the iPhone maker in the U.S., Germany, and China. Qualcomm wanted to kick off the German “rulings season” with a Mannheim injunction–and got a Munich rejection.

A three-judge panel–composed of Judge Dr. Schoen (“Schön” in German), who filled in for Presiding Judge Dr. Zigann at last week’s trial, and Judges Klein and Schmitz–held that Apple’s iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus do not infringe Qualcomm’s European patent EP1199750 on a “post[-]passivation interconnection scheme on top of [an] IC chip.”

In a follow-up related to this (Qualcomm, albeit in the US with Nokia‘s support) the same blog said: [via]

While Qualcomm’s patent infringement lawsuits against Apple (and, by extension Intel) are merely a sideshow to the antitrust matters pending on three continents, let’s start with a brief follow-up to yesterday’s Munich judgment. The court has meanwhile, thankfully, provided a redacted copy of the decision. I’ve read it, and the most interesting part is that Qualcomm had submitted two expert reports in support of its claim construction, while Apple had provided only one, but the deficiencies of Qualcomm’s reports were massive while Apple’s expert provided instructive, helpful information. I’ll publish a translation of the relevant passages soon.

Meanwhile, Judge Lucy H. Koh of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California has granted the Federal Trade Commission of the United States permission to file a reply to Nokia’s recent amicus curiae brief in support of Qualcomm with respect to the FTC’s motion for partial summary judgment regarding Qualcomm’s obligation to extend FRAND licenses to its cellular standard-essential patents (SEPs) to rival chipset makers. In its reply brief in support of its motion (that post also contained a link to Nokia’s brief), the FTC had already reserved the right to request leave to file such a reply since Nokia’s brief was filed just on the eve of the FTC’s reply to Qualcomm’s opposition.

FRAND and standard-essential patents (SEPs) are highly detrimental in the domain of software as they’re inherently not compatible with Free/libre Open Source software (FOSS/FLOSS). The EPO doesn’t care however. Under the leadership of Campinos the EPO promotes software patents more often than ever before. It’s rather disturbing to watch their Twitter account. From yesterday alone we have two different tweets (if not more) that implicitly advocate software patents in Europe. First we have Battistelli’s French “economist” (i.e. pseudo-’scientist’) promoting software patents using familiar buzzwords. “For the patent system,” it says, “the Fourth Industrial Revolution has opened up a new era. For more from our Chief Economist’s recent speech on the topic, click here: http://bit.ly/AIpatents”

This, in turn, links to the “AI” nonsense (buzzwords that can refer to just about any algorithm). Once again, on the same day, the EPO promoted such patents under the guise of “AI”. To quote the tweet: “What are the main challenges in drafting patent applications for AI-related inventions? Our panel of experts discussed: http://bit.ly/AIconf”

Suffice to say, this is against the rules of the EPO (or the EPC), but they bypass the rules and break the laws without any implications. European politicians don’t seem to care.

Meanwhile, Herbert Smith Freehills LLP’s Jonathan Turnbull, Krishna Kakkaiyadi and Julie Chiu published this piece titled “EPO publishes 2018 revision of Guidelines for Examination directed to computer-implemented inventions” (what the EPO calls software patents). To quote:

The EPO has recently published the 2018 revision to its Guidelines for Examination, which are generally updated annually to take into account developments in patent law and practice. For a complete list of sections that have been amended this year, please see the EPO’s website here. These new Guidelines will come into effect on 1 November 2018.

Notably, some of the key updates this year concern Part G, Chapter II, 3.3-3.7: these provisions outline the exceptions to patentability under Article 52 of the European Patent Convention (“EPC“), including mathematical methods, business methods and programs for computers. Claims directed to such subject matter would normally not be patentable, but the updated Guidelines elaborate on the types of claims which still might be eligible for patenting, and provide concrete examples of such eligible claims.

[...]

Nevertheless, these developments have to be seen alongside the other efforts being taken by the EPO in ensuring that European patent law remains suitable and robust to tackle computer-implemented inventions. In May 2018, the EPO held (for the first time) a conference on patenting Artificial Intelligence and soon after, in June 2018, the heads of the five largest patent offices (USPTO, EPO, JPO, the Korean patent Office and the State Intellectual Property office in China) re-emphasised the impact of AI on the patent system as one of their “main strategic priorities“. In December 2018, the EPO will host a conference on the patenting of blockchain-based inventions.

These recent developments are indicative of the EPO’s proactive response towards the changing technological landscape, and a willingness to engage with and potentially grant patents for computer-implemented inventions such as AI- or blockchain-enabled technologies if they meet the applicable criteria.

So the EPO lost all legitimacy on patent scope. Quite flagrantly it ignores the European Patent Convention and disregards a European directive. The EPO is just above the law. They openly tell candidates for examination (of which there are none; there’s a permanent hiring freeze) or current examiners (while they last or manage to survive) to grant such patents and they just say to applicants that it they include terms like “AI” or “blockchain” or some other nonsense, then they’ll be granted a patent on algorithms.

This isn’t even a legacy of Battistelli alone; had Campinos shown interest in genuine patent quality (never mind actually obeying the rules and the law), he would stop this, not accelerate it as he does.

In the interests of ‘production’ (low quality of patents as priority) the EPO further limits access to facts, to oppositions, to appeals etc.

Joanna Rowley (Haseltine Lake LLP) has just published this article:

New EPO Guidelines On The Issuance Of A Summons To Oral Proceedings As The First Action In Examination

A summons to oral proceedings before the Examining Division is usually only issued after at least one examination report – if not several – has been issued. However, last year the EPO revised the Guidelines for Examination to state that the Division may issue a summons to oral proceedings as the first action in examination after issuance of the extended European search report, albeit only in exceptional cases.

So they cut some more corners, except “in exceptional cases.”

Great resurgence of patent quality or just further deterioration (which also makes more staff redundant)? Remember that examiners’ contracts are now time-limited, so not even layoffs per se are needed; Campinos can just patiently wait for their work contract to expire (unless they leave earlier or get fired under strange circumstances, as some do).

Not only software patents are the problem; the EPO also continues to double down on patents on nature. Want beer? Sorry, that’s patented. The beer and the seeds it’s made from. Under Campinos this disturbing policy was recently reaffirmed and there’s this new article about a ‘compromise’:

A second patent granted to Carlsberg and Heineken related to conventionally-bred barley has been reduced in scope by the European Patent Office (EPO).

The patent, which covered conventionally-bred barley, its usage in brewing and the resulting beer, and is now restricted to plants with a specific mutation which can influence the content of these flavours.

This is the second patent of this type that has been reduced in scope by the EPO following pressure from lobbying groups.

So they still allow patents on life and nature; as if people invent nature by manipulating it a little.

Share this post: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • co.mments
  • DZone
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • NewsVine
  • Print
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Facebook

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

What Else is New


  1. Links 17/9/2019: CentOS 7.7 and Funtoo Linux 1.4 Released

    Links for the day



  2. EPO is Not European

    Internationalists and patent trolls are those who stand to benefit from the 'globalisation' of low-quality and law-breaking patents such as patents on algorithms, nature and life itself; the EPO isn't equipped to serve its original goals anymore



  3. The EPO's Central Staff Committee and SUEPO (Staff Union) Respond to “Fascist Bills” Supported by EPO President António Campinos

    Raw material pertaining to the latest Campinos "scandal"; what Campinos said, what the Central Staff Committee (CSC) said, and what SUEPO said



  4. Storm Brewing in the European Patent Office After a Hot Summer

    Things aren't rosy in EPOnia (to say the least); in fact, things have been getting a lot worse lately, but the public wouldn't know judging by what media tells the public (almost nothing)



  5. Why I Once Called for Richard Stallman to Step Down

    Guest post from the developer who recently authored "Getting Stallman Wrong Means Getting The 21st Century Wrong"



  6. As Richard Stallman Resigns Let's Consider Why GNU/Linux Without Stallman and Torvalds Would be a Victory to Microsoft

    Stallman has been ejected after a lot of intentionally misleading press coverage; this is a dark day for Software Freedom



  7. Links 16/9/2019: GNU Linux-libre 5.3, GNU World Order 13×38, Vista 10 Breaks Itself Again

    Links for the day



  8. Links 16/9/2019: Qt Quick on Vulkan, Metal, and Direct3D; BlackWeb 1.2 Reviewed

    Links for the day



  9. Richard Stallman's Controversial Views Are Nothing New and They Distract From Bill Gates' Vastly Worse Role

    It's easier to attack Richard Stallman (RMS) using politics (than using his views on software) and media focus on Stallman's personal views on sexuality bears some resemblance to the push against Linus Torvalds, which leans largely on the false perception that he is sexist, rude and intolerant



  10. Links 16/9/2019: Linux 5.3, EasyOS Releases, Media Backlash Against RMS

    Links for the day



  11. Openwashing Report on Open Networking Foundation (ONF): When Open Source Means Collaboration Among Giant Spying Companies

    Massive telecommunications oligopolies (telecoms) are being described as ethical and responsible by means of openwashing; they even have their own front groups for that obscene mischaracterisation and ONF is one of those



  12. 'Open Source' You Cannot Run Without Renting or 'Licensing' Windows From Microsoft

    When so-called ‘open source’ programs strictly require Vista 10 (or similar) to run, how open are they really and does that not redefine the nature of Open Source while betraying everything Free/libre software stands for?



  13. All About Control: Microsoft is Not Open Source But an Open Source Censor/Spy and GitHub/LinkedIn/Skype Are Its Proprietary Censorship/Surveillance Tools

    All the big companies which Microsoft bought in recent years are proprietary software and all of the company’s big products remain proprietary software; all that “Open Source” is to Microsoft is “something to control and censor“



  14. The Sad State of GNU/Linux News Sites

    The ‘media coup’ of corporate giants (that claim to be 'friends') means that history of GNU/Linux is being distorted and lied about; it also explains prevalent lies such as "Microsoft loves Linux" and denial of GNU/Free software



  15. EPO President Along With Bristows, Managing IP and Other Team UPC Boosters Are Lobbying for Software Patents in Clear and Direct Violation of the EPC

    A calm interpretation of the latest wave of lobbying from litigation professionals, i.e. people who profit when there are lots of patent disputes and even expensive lawsuits which may be totally frivolous (for example, based upon fake patents that aren't EPC-compliant)



  16. Links 15/9/2019: Radeon ROCm 2.7.2, KDE Frameworks 5.62.0, PineTime and Bison 3.4.2

    Links for the day



  17. Illegal/Invalid Patents (IPs) Have Become the 'Norm' in Europe

    Normalisation of invalid patents (granted by the EPO in defiance of the EPC) is a serious problem, but patent law firms continue to exploit that while this whole 'patent bubble' lasts (apparently the number of applications will continue to decrease because the perceived value of European Patents diminishes)



  18. Patent Maximalists, Orbiting the European Patent Office, Work to 'Globalise' a System of Monopolies on Everything

    Monopolies on just about everything are being granted in defiance of the EPC and there are those looking to make this violation ‘unitary’, even worldwide if not just EU-wide



  19. Unitary Patent (UPC) Promotion by Team Battistelli 'Metastasising' in Private Law Firms

    The EPO's Albert Keyack (Team Battistelli) is now in Team UPC as Vice President of Kilburn & Strode LLP; he already fills the media with lies about the UPC, as one can expect



  20. Microsoft Targets GNU/Linux Advocates With Phony Charm Offensives and Fake 'Love'

    The ways Microsoft depresses GNU/Linux advocacy and discourages enthusiasm for Software Freedom is not hard to see; it's worth considering and understanding some of these tactics (mostly assimilation-centric and love-themed), which can otherwise go unnoticed



  21. Proprietary Software Giants Tell Open Source 'Communities' That Proprietary Software Giants Are 'Friends'

    The openwashing services of the so-called 'Linux' Foundation are working; companies that are inherently against Open Source are being called "Open" and some people are willing to swallow this bait (so-called 'compromise' which is actually surrender to proprietary software regimes)



  22. Microsoft Pays the Linux Foundation for Academy Software Foundation, Which the Linux Foundation is Outsourcing to Microsoft

    Microsoft has just bought some more seats and more control over Free/Open Source software; all it had to do was shell out some 'slush funds'



  23. Links 14/9/2019: SUSE CaaS Platform, Huawei Laptops With GNU/Linux

    Links for the day



  24. Links 13/9/2019: Catfish 1.4.10, GNOME Firmware 3.34.0 Release

    Links for the day



  25. Links 12/9/2019: GNU/Linux at Huawei, GNOME 3.34 Released

    Links for the day



  26. Links 12/9/2019: Manjaro 18.1 and KaOS 2019.09 Releases

    Links for the day



  27. EPO: Give Us Low-Quality Patent Applications, Patent Trolls Have Use for Those

    What good is the EPC when the EPO feels free to ignore it and nobody holds the EPO accountable for it? At the moment we're living in a post-EPC Europe where the only thing that counts is co-called 'products' (i.e. quantity, not quality).



  28. Coverage for Sponsors: What the Linux Foundation Does is Indistinguishable From Marketing Agencies' Functions

    The marketing agency that controls the name "Linux" is hardly showing any interest in technology or in journalism; it's just buying media coverage for sponsors and this is what it boils down to for the most part (at great expense)



  29. Watch Out, Linus Torvalds: Microsoft Bought Tons of Git Repositories and Now It Goes After Linux

    Microsoft reminds us how E.E.E. tactics work; Microsoft is just hijacking its competition and misleading the market (claiming the competition to be its own, having "extended" it Microsoft's way with proprietary code)



  30. Links 11/9/2019: Acer in LVFS, RawTherapee 5.7 and Qt 5.12.5 Released

    Links for the day


RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

Recent Posts