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01.29.19

The EPO Continues to Grant Software Patents Even Though Many European Patents Are Being Invalidated Already

Posted in Europe, IBM, Patents, Red Hat at 9:18 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The legal certainty associated with European Patents is rapidly ending

USS EPO

Summary: “Strong patents aligned with a company’s products help secure exclusivity in core markets,” the EPO wrote yesterday. The EPO, however, is no longer a place for strong patents (certainly not anymore) because its patents are of low value, low legal certainty, and work is poorly researched (examiners not given sufficient time to do the work properly); the EPO just lowers the bar and violates the EPC in the process, hoping to replace the courts so as to mask this gross violation

LAST WEEK we gave almost a handful of new examples wherein European Patents, granted by the European Patent Office (EPO), were thrown out by courts, including the highest British court. The new President doesn’t seem to care. To the credit of the EPO’s examiners, some of them also threw out patents after oppositions; but they, like the appeals’ processors (not the same thing), do not enjoy independence from this President and they’re grossly understaffed for these respective tasks because the number of oppositions has soared and the number of appeals reportedly reached about 10,000 (the backlog for a few dozen people to handle while the pile grows quickly).

GenomeWeb has another new reminder that patent quality suffers. Even the EPO itself can admit this:

The European Patent Office has revoked a patent held by Pacific Biosciences, the company’s rival Oxford Nanopore Technologies said today.

Oxford Nanopore had challenged the validity of the patent, EP3045542, titled “Methods for nucleic acid sequencing,” which was granted in 2016.

2016 means under Battistelli at the height of all the scandals.

“To the credit of the EPO’s examiners, some of them also threw out patents after oppositions; but they, like the appeals’ processors (not the same thing), do not enjoy independence from this President and they’re grossly understaffed for these respective tasks because the number of oppositions has soared and the number of appeals reportedly reached about 10,000 (the backlog for a few dozen people to handle while the pile grows quickly).”At the turn of the new year I was personally alarmed to learn just how bad things had become at the EPO. And almost nobody talks about, certainly not the corporate media. I decided to throw aside coverage of American affairs in favour of EPO stories (this is the fourth one so far today). The newly-confirmed buyer of Red Hat, IBM, is pushing for "AI" patents in Europe — the very opposite of what Red Hat did around 2005 when the relevant directive was debated in Parliament. Less than a day ago Patent Docs advertised for the patent extremists at the Intellectual Property Owners Association (IPO), notably backed by IBM (with a dedicated “task force” for software patents), who prop up the Berkheimer lie. Among the bulletpoints there: “Finjan, Inc. v. Juniper Network, Inc. (N.D. Cal.), where the court ordered the section 101 invalidity defense be decided at trial, but the ultimate jury instructions and verdict form did not address Section 101″ (this horrendous patent troll has USPTO-granted patents passed to it by IBM).

“The newly-confirmed buyer of Red Hat, IBM, is pushing for “AI” patents in Europe — the very opposite of what Red Hat did around 2005 when the relevant directive was debated in Parliament.”Also less than a day ago Watchtroll published an interview with “Mark Ringes, Vice President and Assistant General Counsel for IBM, and Manny Schecter, Chief Patent Counsel for IBM” — an interview in which they’re denying that patent trolls are a problem (“just noise” is what they say) because IBM itself acts like a patent troll. They now bring that very same agenda to Europe. The same patent maximalists’ site that recently revealed IBM proudly promotes this “AI” agenda in Europe (algorithms as “AI”) has caught the eye of FFII. “It is a computer program,” FFII’s Benjamin Henrion wrote yesterday, alluding to this text: “Which is a problem for AI patentability because the technology is seen by some as pure mathematical methods and nothing else.”

Henrion had also taken note of some new event [1, 2, 3] about “AI” patents. “Here’s what you need to deliver as inputs for your patent attorney to protect an AI-related invention,” one tweet said, along with Bastian Best “discussing levels of abstraction for patenting AI-related inventions #AMLD2019. He even prepared a 20-page document describing how to write the perfect invention disclosure report.”

“So highly successful European/French software projects — this one with over 3 billion downloads — are at risk due to software patents.”Best is still promoting software patents (in Europe) as he has done for like a decade (even picking a Twitter username to that effect, “swpat”). Another person was “discussing EPO practice wrt AI-related inventions…”

These are all just patents on algorithms — clearly in defiance of the EPC. Courts would not accept these.

“VLC is constantly receiving patent threat letters,” Henrion wrote, “ignoring them for now, and the UPC will change the whole EU situation, French courts won’t have to power to reject EPO software patents anymore…”

So highly successful European/French software projects — this one with over 3 billion downloads — are at risk due to software patents. They’re being threatened in Europe and patent attorneys (like the ones above, boosters of “AI” patents) typically also lobby for the UPC, in an effort to bypass national courts.

As of yesterday, the EPO carries on with the usual, promoting illegal software patents using hype waves like "blockchain" (just software basically). It wrote this: “What does the future of #blockchain and its impact look like?”

“The more software patents the EPO grants, the worse its reputation will get.”Crowell & Moring LLP’s Kristof Roox, Geert Bogaert, Steven Verbeke and Linh Truong have just written about another (albeit similar) trick for legitimising software on computer vision (software and mathematics, geometry), citing the “European Patent Office’s Study on Patent Applications for Self-Driving Vehicles Technologies in Europe”. They all push for patents on algorithms by calling these something else, typically ‘hot’ and ‘trendy’ acronyms that circulate in the media (perpetuating the concept of them being ‘innovative’).

Yet another conference pushing software patents in Europe was advertised at the start of this week, with the press release saying “Patent Protection for Software-Related Inventions in Europe and the USA”, then elaborating with “Examples and approaches for protecting software and computer-related innovations, taking into account the unique requirements in the US and Europe…”

Then came another with the same title. The more software patents the EPO grants, the worse its reputation will get.

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