11.08.18

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EPO Stacking up Buzzwords (4IR, AI, Now SDV) to Compel Examiners to Grant Patents on Algorithms

Posted in Europe, Patents at 7:25 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Instead of looking for ways to better obey the law and comply with the EPC, President Campinos is creating new loopholes, further lowering patent quality in order to fake ‘growth’

FRENCHMAN (dual national) António Campinos has brought promotion of software patents in Europe to unprecedented levels. The European Patent Office (EPO) promotes such patents about twice or thrice a day, on average. We never saw anything quite so grotesque under Battistelli. In that regard, namely scope/quality of patents, Campinos seems to be even worse than Battistelli (and that’s just the start of his term; it can get a lot worse in years to come).

“Self-driving vehicle technologies are progressing strongly,” the EPO wrote yesterday, citing its very own study (“a new EPO study confirms”). It’s like another one of those Battistelli ‘studies’; has much actually changed since Battistelli left? Maybe only the buzzwords. Battistelli kept saying “4IR”; now they have a new three-letter buzzword, SDV, to obsses over. This typically means software patents pertaining to something inside the car (like those infamous “over the Internet” or “on a phone” patents).

It didn’t take long for the EPO to also tweet: “@RobertaRomanoG, COO for Mobility & Mechatronics at the EPO, spoke on the panel debate of the #EUCAR conference about the recently published study on trends in #selfdriving vehicle innovation…”

For all we can see/gather, EPO staff hates her. It’s hard to forget that Roberta is a career climber close to Battistelli. She allegedly defended his abuses and corruption [1, 2] — something for which people get rewarded at the Office. In other words, the only/best way to get a raise/promotion is to be evil and potentially complicit in criminal activities.

“The number of European patent applications related to autonomous driving has grown 20 times faster than other technologies in recent years, an EPO study has found,” Michael Loney wrote in order to help the EPO’s propaganda that tries to pass off patents on algorithms, i.e. bogus software patents, as "cars" something. Loney writes for a patent maximalists’ publication that has historically been close to Battistelli.

There’s similar coverage this week not just in English (e.g. in Heise). To give another example which is in English, consider World Intellectual Property Review’s (WIPR) participation in this latest stunt:

The number of European patent applications related to autonomous driving has grown 20 times faster than filings for other technologies in recent years, according to a study by the European Patent Office (EPO) and the European Council for Automotive R&D.

A release shared by the EPO yesterday, November 7, said that the statistics may “signal the coming of a transport revolution”.

The study, titled “Patents and self-driving vehicles”, showed that between 2011 and 2017, patent filings at the EPO relating to autonomous driving increased by 330%. However, filings directed to all other technologies in the same period rose by just 16%.

Over the past decade, the EPO said it has received approximately 18,000 patent applications related to self-driving vehicles; almost 4,000 filings were made in 2017 alone.

So EPO management can now pressure examiners to grant abstract patents if these have something to do with a car. As of one week ago, new guidelines came into effect which put similar pressure on examiners, instructing them to grant software parents if the applicant says “AI”. The National Law Review has just published this ‘ad’ of Michael T. Renaud and Marguerite McConihe (Mintz); they’re the latest of many to exploit EPO abuses to market software patents disguised as “AI”. The ‘ad’ is disguided as information:

On November 1, 2018, the European Patent Office (“EPO”) issued new guidelines for the patentability of artificial intelligence (“AI”) and machine learning (“ML”) inventions which indicate that applications within this subject matter may be treated as largely unpatentable. The new guidelines, G-II 3.3.1, provide that AI and ML are “based on computational models and algorithms for classification, clustering, regression and dimensionality reduction, such as neural networks, genetic algorithms, support vector machines, k-means, kernel regression and discriminant analysis.” These “computational models and algorithms” are, according to the guidelines, “per se of an abstract mathematical nature.”

Mathematical methods and purely abstract mathematical concepts are generally excluded from patentability under EPO guidelines. Chapter 3 of the EPO Guidelines for Examination provide the “List of Exclusions,” which includes the exclusion for claims based on mathematical methods in section G-II 3.3. That the AI and ML guidance is provided within this section, as G-II 3.3.1, indicates that claims based on this subject matter will likely face default exclusion from patentability.

They are again (mis)using buzzwords to work around the law and violate the EPC. Another term they like to abuse is “blockchain”, which very obviously refers to algorithms. The EPO has resorted to promoting these fake patents using hype waves. Here’s a tweet from yesterday: “The Office is organising a conference on patenting #blockchain. Among other things, we’ll be discussing the future implications of blockchain #patents for society. Sign up for free here: http://bit.ly/EPOblockchain18 pic.twitter.com/PNll8H3wqp”

So that’s the EPO in a nutshell: it just doesn’t care what the law says, it always tries to work around it.

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