02.16.19

EPO Grants Fake European Patents — Including Software Patents — and European Courts Keep Rejecting These

Posted in Europe, Patents at 12:37 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Everything under the sun becomes a European Patent

Snow under the sun

Summary: The demise of the legitimacy or perceived validity of European Patents is measurable and the system isn’t the same anymore; the EPO makes no effort to change this for the better, either

THE New® and Improved™ President of the European Patent Office (EPO), António Campinos, has done absolutely nothing to curtail patent trolls and improve patent quality. Nothing whatsoever. He arguably made things even worse, exacerbating quality as brain drain persisted and quotas were raised.

“…the EPO is disguising software patents as “medical”, knowing these are not patent-eligible but looking for excuses to grant such fake patents (as if they’re “life-saving”).”Another day passes and we have yet another example of EPO management promoting software patents in defiance of its governing principles/document. As we noted last week (and yes, it’s happening again), the EPO is disguising software patents as “medical”, knowing these are not patent-eligible but looking for excuses to grant such fake patents (as if they’re “life-saving”).

The latest tweet about it isn’t as vague as the previous one because they’ve just added “CII” when they wrote: “We will be looking at computer-implemented inventions in #MedTech and discussing the value of patents for SMEs at this event in Sweden…”

They still use “SMEs” to pretend it’s all about the “small guy”, not just “health”.

“We have discussed the challenges of drafting and prosecuting patent applications for AI inventions,” the EPO then wrote, in effect propping up software patents in Europe (see our older writings about this ‘artificial intelligence’ (AI) hype).

This is the typical 2-3 EPO tweets per day that directly or indirectly promote software patents. It’s even worse now than it was under Battistelli.

“This is the typical 2-3 EPO tweets per day that directly or indirectly promote software patents. It’s even worse now than it was under Battistelli.”D Young & Co LLP’s Anton Baker now celebrates the granting of bogus European software patents under the guise of “AI”; this deviation from the law is rebranded “certainty” (“Patenting AI: certainty at last from the EPO?”); that’s is quite a joke! There’s no certainty in actual courts; rather the opposite. Lexology’s paywall obscures most of this nonsense, but it starts as follows: “In recent years the importance of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) has grown relentlessly as its application has spread…”

No, a lot of things that used these techniques for a number of decades just rebranded accordingly, mostly for marketing gain and patenting loopholes. This article is from a firm which describes itself as “European intellectual property firm, dedicated to protecting and enforcing our clients’ IP rights.” That’s just Team UPC’s mentality. It’s that familiar mindset of patent maximalism with increasing litigation in mind.

“A lot of these patents would be rendered invalid by courts (if challenged there).”We said we would no longer cover US affairs unless software patents make a comeback. Thankfully, that’s not happening. Bogus software patents continue to perish in the US and Charles Bieneman has several new examples of US courts rejecting software patents [1, 2]. We’ve come across several more.

A lot of these patents would be rendered invalid by courts (if challenged there). Joost Duijm has in fact just written this article about a European Patent that’s on shaky ground in the domain of medicine; A German court rejected this European Patent, whereas a Dutch court reaches another decision. Only lawyers benefit from this questionable presumption of validity and return to court. To quote:

On 16 January 2019, the District Court of The Hague ruled that the Dutch part of Eli Lilly and Company’s patent EP 1 313 508 is valid. The judgment was handed down in an invalidation action brought by Sandoz International GmbH.

[...]

At the end of the decision, the Dutch Court explicitly refers to the German decision by the Bundespatentgericht (BPG). The Dutch Court says that it is aware of the fact that it comes to a different outcome than the BPG. The Dutch Court suggests that this might be because the Bundespatentgericht based its decision on (partly) different (combined) prior art than the art in the Dutch proceedings, and because the debate at the BPG also seems to have been different on other points.

What will happen to all those software patents if or when they land in court? Florian Müller recently wrote about Blackberry‘s exploitation of highly dubious European Patents on software. Yesterday he carried on by writing: “Today the Seventh Civil Chamber (Presiding Judge: Dr. Matthias Zigann) held a first hearing in a BlackBerry v. WhatsApp & Facebook case that is part of a set of eight Munich patent infringement actions–over five different patents–against Facebook and its WhatsApp and Instagram subsidaries. The patent-in-suit discussed today: EP1746790 on a “method of sharing an Instant Messaging history.” It’s undoubtedly a pure software patent, and Judge Dr. Zigann noted, diplomatically, that such patents are “at the margins of the scope of patent-eligible subject matter.” However, the focus of first hearings in Munich is on claim construction and infringement analysis (so the parties can prepare accordingly for the second hearing, which is normally a decisive trial), not on validity.”

“So the EPO has an extensive art collection, yet it can’t be bothered with prior art or with the EPC before granting outrageous patents that cause a lot of damage.”BlackBerry, probably inspired by the likes of Qualcomm, wants a German injunction; so software parent grants are now causing ridiculous embargoes (or attempts at embargoes) over rather basic implementations that are neither novel nor original. Blackberry lacks a real business strategy; as Benjamin Henrion has just put it: “Blackberry vs NTP was the lawsuit that created the “patent troll” term back in 2006, now failed Blackberry is turning into a troll, what a surprise.”

He then mentions Nokia, which Microsoft turned into a troll.

Müller has complained to me that corporate media isn’t covering the case. The EPO certainly wouldn’t want this noticed; watch what it published late on Friday as its weekly “highlight”: it’s this ridiculous fluff: (warning: epo.org link)

The EPO’s art collection comprises some 800 works. Founded in 1980 and dedicated to emerging art, the collection aims to provide a link to society and, at the same time, to enhance the workplace for EPO staff and reflect its multicultural nature.

So the EPO has an extensive art collection, yet it can’t be bothered with prior art or with the EPC before granting outrageous patents that cause a lot of damage.

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