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

10.20.18

The Identity Crisis of the European Patent Office, Wrongly Believing It Exists to Serve Lawyers and Patent Trolls Outside Europe

Posted in Europe, Patents at 3:12 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Whose interests does António Campinos represent?

United States House of Representatives

Summary: The European Patent Office doesn’t even feel like it’s European anymore; it’s just an international patent office that happens to be based (primarily) in Munich; insiders and outsiders alike need to ask themselves what these ‘European’ officials (employing firms outside Europe) have turned the Office into

THE European Patent Office, once a source of pride for Europe, no longer seems to work for Europe (except maybe some law firms that happen to also have branches in Europe). This is a problem and there are legitimate reasons for examiners’ dissatisfaction. Those are European scientists, unlike their managers (who are nowadays very rarely scientists; some totally lack any scientific background and experience, qualifications, education etc.) that keep pushing software patents in Europe.

“This is a problem and there are legitimate reasons for examiners’ dissatisfaction.”“The last panel discussion at our Patenting AI conference dealt with societal and liability aspects of #AI, computational inventiveness, inventorship and entitlement issues,” the European Patent Office (or Organisation; the username and name are in conflict as we noted here before) wrote before the weekend. The EPO found a new name/trick for software patents — one that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) too increasingly piggybacks to dodge 35 U.S.C. § 101. It didn’t take long for the EPO to start greenwashing software patents, having written this shortly afterwards: “Is artificial intelligence the ‘new frontier’ in green technology? Join the discussion at this event…”

We have meanwhile learned, based on this CoinGeek article, that software patents are still being granted to nChain. Shame on the EPO for granting such patents. Shame on nChain for pursuing these. To quote:

According to a blog post published by the firm, nChain has been awarded a new patent by the European Patent Office (EPO). The latest patent—the sixth to be awarded by the EPO—covers a system that uses a trusted device to secure content on another device or computer server. The patent extends the invention covered by nChain’s Deterministic Key Generation patent, which was previously approved by the EPO.

The patent, entitled “Personal device security using elliptic curve cryptography for secret sharing, and numbered European Patent 3257006, details how two personal devices can communicate with each other securely using a “common secret” but without requiring that any sensitive private-key information be exchanged. Instead, the technique uses digital signatures to create the common secret each time data needs to be exchanged.

To better understand why the EPO has stooped so low pay attention to who’s being consulted: "Consisting of representatives of IP special-interest groups and IP sections of (US) State Bar associations," according to the EPO itself. They tweeted about this too: “The 34th annual meeting of the US Bar-EPO Liaison Council took place at the EPO’s Munich headquarters.”

So the US decides on how the EPO should be run? Do European politicians also tell the USPTO how to run? If not, why not? Need we assume the supremacy of special interests in the US? Even in Europe? What about China?

Automated translations of technical documents were then mentioned by the EPO just at the week’s very end: (warning: epo.org link)

With 25 000 daily users, Espacenet is now one of the most frequently accessed patent information services. The EPO continually works to develop and improve its offerings as users’ needs evolve. For example, to address the language barriers inherent in the system as the database grew to contain patent documents in ever more languages, the EPO developed Patent Translate, a tool for automated patent translation. Launched in 2012, the service provides free, “on-the-fly” machine translation of patents for 32 languages, including Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Russian. In 2017 the EPO incorporated neural machine translation technology into Patent Translate to provide even more accurate translations, and the service currently sees 20 000 requests for translation every working day.

This is part of a bunch of tweets that said: “On this day 20 years ago, the EPO launched a free #patent search tool that would change how patent information is accessed across the world. [] A walk down memory lane: On #Espacenet’s 20-year anniversary, here are some of the earlier interfaces. See if you remember them! [] 20 years ago #Espacenet was born. 🚀 Now it has over 100 million records from some 100 patent authorities and over 25 000 users per day.”

Considering what Espacenet means, we certainly have drifted well away from that. There seems to be nothing European (except the staff) about the EPO. The EPO retweeted (via) this Espacenet puff piece from a patent maximalists’ Web site that’s apparently based in the US. It’s like the EPO often prioritises countries or continents other than Europe and people are noticing. Anything like ‘unitary’ patents (a la UPC) would make that even worse, enabling firms or trolls from other countries to sue a lot of European firms in a lot of countries (in one fell swoop); what’s in it for European firms? Pretty much nothing.

“Brexit does not affect the EPO,” Helga Chapman (Chapman IP) wrote before the weekend, stating the obvious without bringing up the UPC at all (as that might complicate things a little). To quote the part in which she belittles EPO corruption, scandals and so on:

The EPO has provided a system which while a little unwieldy and bureaucratic at times (although these issues have been widely addressed now) is generally good for one-stop prosecution of patent applications. Its popularity has in fact led to some problems which were unforeseen by the EPO when it was founded in 1977. It remains the most popular choice for patent protection across its member states including those in the EU and outside the EU.

There will be no change in the existing system used by UK patent attorneys to prosecute, oppose and defend patents at the EPO – they will be in the same position that patent attorneys based in non-EU states, such as Switzerland, have been for many years. Moreover, European patents will continue to protect all the member states of the EPO including the 10 or so countries which are not members of the EU but full members of the EPO. Whether Britain chooses to be in or out of the EU circle makes no difference.

Sadly, the EPO no longer seems to represent the interests of those countries; it arguably works against those countries by offering monopolies to foreign firms that then threaten those countries. EPO management keeps lobbying for UPC, which basically means that it absolutely wants to make things worse.

It should be noted that it has been one month since Bristows (most vocal among Team UPC in the UK) said anything about UPC because their ‘unitary’ patents conspiracy is up in flames, much like the EPO under corrupt management.

What the EPO needs right now is a reassessment; first, it needs to ensure it actually serves science and technology, not just law firms and second — perhaps more importantly — it needs to check that it actually serves the interests of member states. Otherwise, drop the “E” from EPO.

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 20/8/2019: KMyMoney 5.0.6, Kdenlive 19.08

    Links for the day



  2. Guarding and Rescuing the FSF Titanic: Free Software in Education

    "If everyone learns to code, then everyone gains some understanding of how to code in other languages."



  3. Links 19/8/2019: Another Linux 5.3 RC, OpenSUSE's Richard Brown Steps Down, Slackware Creates Patreon Page, Qt 6 Initiated

    Links for the day



  4. Speaking Truth to Monopolies (or How to Write Guest Posts in Techrights)

    We need to have more articles tackling the passage of all power — especially when it comes to software — to few large monopolies that disregard human rights or actively participate in their abolishment in the digital realm



  5. Guarding and Rescuing the FSF Titanic: Free as in Speech

    "While a new breed of so-called anarchists campaign against expression that even the state allows, people are also foolishly overplaying the relevance of the state to free speech issues -- as if it's not a freedom issue when a project is increasingly thought-policed, because the thought-policing isn't on a state level."



  6. Toxic Culture at Microsoft

    Racism, intolerance, sexism and bullying are rampant at Microsoft; but Microsoft would rather deflect/divert/sidetrack to Google and so-called 'GAFA'



  7. Guarding and Rescuing the FSF Titanic: Introduction

    "The FSF isn't just threatened, it will hit a large iceberg in the future that changes it permanently."



  8. Linux Journal and Linux.com Should Have Been Kept Going

    There's apparently no good explanation for the effective shutdown of Linux Journal and Linux.com; London Trust Media Holdings (LTMH), owner of Linux Journal, saw numbers improving and the Linux Foundation, steward of Linux.com, is loaded with money



  9. 2019 Microsoft Glossary

    How Microsoft internally interprets words that it is saying to the public and to the press



  10. 2019 Surveillance Glossary

    Distortion of technical and nontechnical terms in this day and age of '1984'



  11. Openwashing Report: It's Getting Worse, Fast. Everything is Apparently 'Open' Now Even Though It's Actually Proprietary.

    The latest examples (this past week's) of openwashing in the media, ranging from 5G to surveillance



  12. GitHub is a Dagger Inside Free/Open Source Software (FOSS); This is Why Microsoft Bought It

    A year later it seems pretty evident that Microsoft doesn’t like FOSS but is merely trying to control it, e.g. by buying millions of FOSS projects/repositories at the platform level (the above is what the Linux Foundation‘s Jim Zemlin said to Microsoft at their event while antitrust regulators were still assessing the proposed takeover)



  13. Microsoft Grows Within and Eats You From the Inside

    Microsoft entryism and other subversive tactics continue to threaten and sometimes successfully undermine the competition; Microsoft is nowadays doing that to core projects in the Free/Open Source software world



  14. Links 18/8/2019: New KNOPPIX and Emmabuntus Released

    Links for the day



  15. Links 17/8/2019: Unigine 2.9 and Git 2.23

    Links for the day



  16. Computer-Generated Patent Applications Show That Patents and Innovations Are Very Different Things

    The 'cheapening' of the concept of 'inventor' (or 'invention') undermines the whole foundation/basis of the patent system and deep inside patent law firms know it



  17. Concerns About IBM's Commitment to OpenSource.com After the Fall of Linux.com and Linux Journal

    The Web site OpenSource.com is over two decades old; in its current form it's about a decade old and it contains plenty of good articles, but will IBM think so too and, if so, will investment in the site carry on?



  18. Electronic Frontier Foundation Makes a Mistake by Giving Award to Microsoft Surveillance Person

    At age 30 (almost) the Electronic Frontier Foundation still campaigns for privacy; so why does it grant awards to enemies of privacy?



  19. Caturdays and Sundays at Techrights Will Get Busier

    Our plan to spend the weekends writing more articles about Software Freedom; it seems like a high-priority issue



  20. Why Techrights Doesn't Do Social Control Media

    Being managed and censored by platform owners (sometimes their shareholders) isn’t an alluring proposition when a site challenges conformist norms and the status quo; Techrights belongs in a platform of its own



  21. Patent Prosecution Highways and Examination Highways Are Dooming the EPO

    Speed is not a measure of quality; but today's EPO is just trying to get as much money as possible, as fast as possible (before the whole thing implodes)



  22. Software Patents Won't Come Back Just Because They're (Re)Framed/Branded as "HEY HI" (AI)

    The pattern we've been observing in recent years is, patent applicants and law firms simply rewrite applications to make these seem patent-eligible on the surface (owing to deliberate deception) and patent offices facilitate these loopholes in order to fake 'growth'



  23. IP Kat Pays the Price for Being a Megaphone of Team UPC

    The typical or the usual suspects speak out about the so-called 'prospects' (with delusions of inevitability) of the Unified Patent Court Agreement, neglecting to account for their own longterm credibility



  24. Links 17/8/2019: Wine 4.14 is Out, Debian Celebrates 26 years

    Links for the day



  25. Nothing Says 'New' Microsoft Like Microsoft Component Firmware Update (More Hardware Lock-in)

    Vicious old Microsoft is still trying to make life very hard for GNU/Linux, especially in the OEM channel/s, but we're somehow supposed to think that "Microsoft loves Linux"



  26. Bill Gates and His Special Relationship With Jeffrey Epstein Still Stirring Speculations

    Love of the "children" has long been a controversial subject for Microsoft; can Bill Gates and his connections to Jeffrey Epstein unearth some unsavoury secrets?



  27. Links 16/8/2019: Kdevops and QEMU 4.1

    Links for the day



  28. The EPO's War on the Convention on the Grant of European Patents 2000 (EPC 2000), Not Just Brexit, Kills the Unitary Patent (UP/UPC) and Dooms Justice

    Team UPC continues to ignore the utter failures that have led to lawlessness at the EPO, attributing the demise of the Unified Patent Court (UPC) to Brexit alone and pretending that it's not even a problem



  29. Links 15/8/2019: GNOME's Birthday, LLVM 9.0 RC2

    Links for the day



  30. 'Foundation' Hype Spreads in China

    Nonprofits seem to have become more of a business loophole than a charitable endeavour; the problem is, this erodes confidence in legitimate Free software and good causes


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