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02.16.19

Nobody But Patent Trolls and Litigators Will Benefit From the Corruption of the European Patent Office

Posted in EFF, Europe, Patents at 11:45 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

They profit from the chaos they are creating, abusing the authority given to them

EPO on a plane

Summary: IAM, EPO leadership, Iancu and the rest of these raiders are enabling corruption and facilitating or supporting a racket; that money they collect comes at the expense of future victims of their “clients” or “customers” (that’s what they call applicants, to whom they grant dubious monopolies as a matter of urgency)

THE DIRECTION the European Patent Office (EPO) has taken since António Campinos inherited Office is no different from Battistelli’s. One Frenchman just inherited another’s task. He inherited a policy that he has no problems with; he has also inherited all the worst elements of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), notably software patents which we will deal with separately in our next post.

“The EFF, as it turns out, belatedly realises Iancu was all along trouble.”About a week ago the management of the EPO made it obvious that it works for overseas patent trolls; European businesses aren’t a priority. As patent maximalists have just put it : “The EPO and the Licensing Executives Society International have signed a memorandum of understanding with the intention of enabling innovators to make better use of the EPO system [...] The president of the EPO, António Campinos, and the president of the Licensing Executives Society International (LESI), François Painchaud, have signed a memorandum of understanding on bilateral cooperation at LESI’s Winter Planning Meeting in Miami.”

“Licensing” just means taxing and those who are doing this represent patent mills rather than innovators. On that same trip there were other revealing activities attributed to Campinos; he also met Andrei Iancu on that visit. Aseet Patel wrote in Watchtroll 2 days ago that “Andrei Iancu has led the charge to improve predictability of patent-eligible subject matter.” Rather the opposite; he promotes granting fake patents that are predictably bunk, reducing the legal certainty associated with US patents.

Over the weekend we’ve surveyed some of the latest software patents to be thrown out by US courts or get wrongly granted by the Office. This gross disparity shows that the USPTO departed from the rule of law (like EPO under Battistelli). The EFF, as it turns out, belatedly realises Iancu was all along trouble.

“The patent trolls’ lobby (IAM) responded to the EFF by speaking for trolls, heckling trolls’ exposers, and generally being strident as usual.”Authored by Joe Mullin under “Patent Trolls” (after had spent nearly a decade covering the subject) was this article (“Entrepreneurs Tell USPTO Director Iancu: Patent Trolls Aren’t Just ‘Monster Stories’”) on which he later expanded: “For 10 years as a journalist, I listened to entrepreneurs, big & small, complain of patent troll extortion. @uspto director Iancu is wrong to deny the harms that PAEs (trolls) cause. Proud to publish this letter from 24 biz owners who wouldn’t stay quiet…”

The EFF said: “The director of the @uspto has said patent trolls are nothing more than “monster stories.” Today, we’re publishing a letter signed by 24 small businesses that makes clear patent trolls are all too real.”

From the corresponding post:

Patent trolls aren’t a myth. They aren’t a bedtime story. Ask a software developer—they’re likely to know someone who has been sued or otherwise threatened by one, if they haven’t been themselves.

Unfortunately, the new director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is in a serious state of denial about patent trolls and the hurt they cause to technologists everywhere. Today a number of small business owners and start-up founders have submitted a letter [PDF] to USPTO Director Andre Iancu telling him that patent trolls remain a real threat to U.S. businesses. Signatories range from mid-sized companies like Foursquare and Life360 to one-person software enterprises like Ken Cooper’s. The letter explains the harm, cost, and stress that patent trolls cause businesses.

Patent trolls aren’t a thing that happens once in a while or an exception to the rule. Over the past two decades, troll litigation has become the rule. There are different ways to measure exactly what a “troll” is, but by one recent measurement, a staggering 85 percent of recently filed patent lawsuits in the tech sector were filed by trolls.

That’s almost 9 out of 10 lawsuits being filed by an entity with no real product or service. Because the Patent Office issues so many low-quality software patents, the vast majority of these suits are brought by entities that played no role in the development of the real-world technology they attack. Instead, trolls use vague and overbroad patents to sue the innovators who create products and services. This is how we end up with patent trolls suing people for running an online contest or making a podcast.

This is unfortunately what also happened at the EPO.

The patent trolls lobby (IAM) responded to the EFF by speaking for trolls, heckling trolls’ exposers, and generally being strident as usual. It wrote a bunch of tweets like this: “The @unifiedpatents report the EFF links to states that 60% of high-tech litigation was instituted by PAEs last year. The EFF chooses to claim that 85% was instituted by Trolls, which is actually the percentage Unified allocated to all NPEs. Maybe @joemullin could explain why.”

IAM is literally funded by patent trolls and also by the EPO’s PR firm. IAM is almost literally an extension of the EPO’s PR department and it’s also lobbying Iancu, who spoke alongside Battistelli at IAM events.

“The EPO’s President and Iancu really don’t seem to get it. They’re consciously aiding trolls.”Josh from CCIA ended up feeding the troll (or the patent trolls’ lobby) [1, 2, 3] by stating: “But a number of individual inventors operate as trolls. (Eg, Landmark Technology, which Unified classes as an NPE – individual inventors and which accounts for a significant chunk of that category all by itself.) [...] And the individual trolls tend to be far more prolific than actual individual inventors when it comes to lawsuits. So, while some portion of that 25% may be the kind of inventors you describe, the clear likelihood is that the majority are trolls. To me, Joe’s piece holds. [...] If an individual inventor doesn’t practice their patent and seeks to enforce it, aren’t they definitionally an NPE?” (they are, by definition)

The EPO’s President and Iancu really don’t seem to get it. They’re consciously aiding trolls. A day ago the EPO wrote (linking to its “SME” nonsense, pretending to exist in the name/interests of the “small guy”): Negotiation is the preferred way to solve potential infringement issues; litigation is regarded as a last resort.”

“Negotiation” is sometimes merely a euphemism for blackmail and extortion, I’ve told them — something that the EPO facilitates with low-quality and incorrect grants for patent trolls. These prey the most (or most effectively) on SMEs that aren’t able to afford a legal fight (day in court), so they end up settling over patents they know to be bogus.

There’s meanwhile this new article by Toby Hopkin and Mark Roberts (J A Kemp) in which they speak of PCT. They say that “granted EP patent may be used to streamline prosecution before other national patent offices of interest,” but what if this European Patent is a fake one? Only blackmailing patent trolls benefit. This goes back to Battistelli with his notorious “Early Certainty” (preliminary decisions before facts are even known). To quote:

In 2014, the EPO launched the Early Certainty initiative to speed up the patent granting process. This initiative has resulted in speedier establishment of search reports and a shorter examination procedure. As can be seen from the chart, the result is that the number of EP patents granted since the launch of the initiative has increased far more quickly than the number of patent applications filed. This is confirmed by our experience, in which a quicker turnaround time has been noticeable, with an increasing number of applications proceeding to grant directly after a response to the search report is filed.

While options exist to slow down prosecution if desired, this increased prosecution speed opens up a new possibility for an international filing strategy. The strategy proposed below shows that a granted EP patent can be secured before the 30/31m deadline for further PCT national phasing, especially where a positive WO-ISA is issued by the EPO.

The granted EP patent may be used to streamline prosecution before other national patent offices of interest, especially if a national patent office is part of a Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) agreement. For example, the IP5 PPH covers the five biggest patent offices, namely China, Japan, Korea, the United States and the EPO.

We’ve already written a great deal about the problems associated with “Early Certainty” and PPH. They’re basically rushed ‘judgments’ or leap towards conclusions before facts are even assessed. We’ve already seen how that’s misused for raids and embargoes, including at the EPO. Later it turns out that the underlying EPs are bogus.

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