02.25.19

Gemini version available ♊︎

There is Still a Patent Quality Crisis at the EPO

Posted in Europe, Patents at 1:19 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Even the word "crisis" is nowadays being used, and not for the first time

God and EPO
“System Battistelli” has been such an utter failure that the Office abandons it [1, 2, 3] (after spending 223 million euros on it and having created baseless patent monopolies that can cost Europeans billions of euros)

Summary: The race to the bottom (of patent quality) is proving to be a very costly one; there are more signs that even the management of the EPO belatedly recognises this

THREE years ago we published "The European Patent Office Suffers Quality Crisis, Finally (Belatedly) Agrees to Publicly Comment on It" and around the same time we also showed internal documents that speak of a crisis at the EPO. The word “crisis” being used by management wouldn’t be unprecedented at all, albeit Mr. “Colgate Smile” António Campinos is trying to hide all this. That’s apparently his chief role now.

Has the EPO fallen/succumbed to the quality levels of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)? Maybe even lower than that? A couple of days ago Watchtroll published “Merck and Pfizer Downgrades on Patent Cliff Concerns Signal Importance of Patents to Pharma” (the typical alarmist nonsense from patent maximalists). Should we not be celebrating this? A boon for generics, surely…

Either way, in the wake of Alice and Mayo (SCOTUS), or 35 U.S.C. § 101, US patents became a lot harder to enforce in US courts. Not too surprisingly, the number of lawsuits has almost been halved. Will this crisis of confidence (in the legitimacy of patents) be coming to Europe? Has it come already? The other day we took note of the EPO's statement on “patents on plants and animals derived from conventional breeding,” to borrow Ben Wodecki’s framing of the subject in his new article, “EPO member states meet to discuss plant patent crisis,” which we quote below:

Representatives from the 38 member states of the European Patent Office (EPO) have met to discuss the patentability of plants obtained by essentially biological processes following several high profile invalidation cases.

Representatives from the member states, along with the European Commission as an observer and the office of the EPO met to discuss the patentability of conventionally bred plants and animals.

More than 40 organisations had appealed to EPO president António Campinos in January calling for an end to all patents on plants and animals derived from conventional breeding.

This has meanwhile been pointed out by patent maximalists as well:

The European Patent Office and representatives of the 38 Member States organised a meeting last week of the Committee on Patent Law to discuss next steps following decision T 1063/18 of an EPO Board of Appeal on plant patentability. Representatives of the European Commission were present as observer.

In its landmark decision of 5 December 2018, the Board of Appeal decided that plants which are produced according to essentially biological processes need to be held patentable, despite EPO Guidelines which were introduced in 2017 to exclude them from patentability.

These patents never made any sense, not just as a matter of law but also a matter of common sense/intuition. Life and nature are not inventions. Neither is mathematics, yet the EPO keeps advocating/promoting software patents in Europe. Just before the weekend we saw this article titled “Global Artificial Intelligence Patent Survey” and the parts about the EPO are all buzzwords (the familiar ones):

Research and development conducted worldwide is currently driving the “Fourth Industrial Revolution” (“4IR”), which encompasses three major fields: (1) physical technologies, (2) biological technologies, and (3) digital technologies. [1,2]

Corresponding to the rise of 4IR digital technologies, the number of international artificial intelligence (“AI”) based patent filings has expanded rapidly over the last few years, mostly concentrated in the United States and Asia. [3] According to a 2016 study, approximately 75% of all AI-related patent publications in the world come from three jurisdictions: China, Japan, and the United States. [4] Although the majority of AI-related patents are filed in these countries, Europe is also seeing substantial increases in such patent filings.

[...]

AI-related patent applications in Europe grew at a 54% annualized rate from 2014 to 2017. [18] The European Patent Office (EPO) has expressed a dedication to developing examination practices which are friendlier to computer implemented inventions, including AI-related subject matter. For example, the EPO adopted a new approach to interdisciplinary software patent applications which can now be examined by a team of three examiners with diverse technical backgrounds. Additionally, the EPO aims to speed up examination according to a 12-18 month timeline from filing to either allowance or final rejection.

Furthermore, in May 2018, the EPO held a conference entitled “Patenting Artificial Intelligence” centering on the challenges and opportunities of patenting AI-related innovations. [19] Experts emphasized that AI-related applications in the EP should address technical considerations of the internal functioning of a computer, such as speed and/or computational load. [20]

[...]

As AI-based innovations become an ever-increasing presence in our daily lives, it appears inevitable that an expanding number of patent applications will be filed to protect such inventions. Certain international jurisdictions have been amenable to clarification and adjustment of their patent laws and examination procedures with respect to AI, while others have remained relatively unchanged. It is promising to see both the Japanese and European patent offices clarifying expectations and streamline examination procedures in these emerging technical areas. As US practitioners, it can only be hoped that the USPTO will establish similar initiatives to expedite and clarify AI-based patent prosecution as the 4IR marches forward.

The term “4IR” was promoted if not made up by the Battistelli regime, which had paid publishers to spread it worldwide. It keeps spreading.

We have more or less lost hope in justice from within the EPO because the topology of the Organisation is all messed up and the Office is in charge of everything, even judges. Yes, the Enlarged Board of Appeal too is still afraid of — and thus dependent on — corrupt officials at Office. That needs to change in order to improve the perceived legitimacy of boards’ decisions.

Here’s IP Kat taking note of the latest referral to the Enlarged Board of Appeal:

The issue of double-patenting has been considered before by the EBA, in G 1/05 and G 1/06. In these decisions the EBA proposed that the principle that double patenting should be prohibited given that an applicant “had no legitimate interest in proceedings that gave rise to the grant of a second patent in respect of the same subject-matter for which he already held a patent” (G 1/05, r. 13.4).

However, there are two situations where the issue of double patenting may arise – divisional applications and internal priority. In the latter case, it seems that an applicant may have a legitimate reason for the second patent, as this will have a later expiry date than the first (patent term being determined by filing date and not priority date).

As Eric then put it:

Board 3.3.01 has decided to refer a question to the Enlarged Board of Appeal, in connection with the issue of double-patenting. Decision T 318/14 is not published yet but the minutes are available on the EP register at https://register.epo.org/application?number=EP10718590&lng=en&tab=doclist

1. Can a European patent application be refused under Article 97(2) EPC if it claims the same subject-matter as a European patent granted to the same applicant which does not form part of the state of the art pursuant to Article 54(2) and (3) EPC?

2.1 If the answer to the first question is yes, what are the conditions for such a refusal and are different conditions to be applied where the European patent application under examination was filed:
a) on the same date as, or
b) as a European divisional application (Article 76(1) EPC) in respect of, or
c) claiming the priority (Article 88 EPC) in respect of
a European patent application on the basis of which a European patent was granted to the same applicant?

2.2 In particular, in the latter case, does an applicant have a legitimate interest in the grant of the (subsequent) European patent application in view of the fact that the filing date and not the priority date is the relevant date for calculating the term of the European patent under Article 63(1) EPC?

“May I add that the Board also considered the situation where two EP applications are filed on the same date by the same applicant,” Eric later added. “This situation may also lead to a double-patenting objection (preliminary opinion of the board pt 5.2, and G-IV, 5.4 ). This corresponds to alternative a) of question 2.1.”

Double patenting may seem attractive to the likes of Battistelli as that helps game (inflate) numbers. It’s no secret that the EPO became a monopoly-printing fanatic rather than a proper, reserved, ‘conservative’ examination centre. The danger therein is that it harms the very consent from which the EPO derives its power/authority.

Worry not, however, as corporate media does not seem interested in covering any of this. The corporations it protects have a lot of patents and if the public found out about the underlying quality, it would diminish their over-inflated value.

Remember that the EPO repeatedly bribed the Financial Times and the Financial Times still reciprocates by rewarding patent maximalists. Days ago it published “Apply for new FT ranking: Europe’s leading patent law firms 2019″ and spread this lie that we need patent lawyers for innovation (“Europe needs technology and patent lawyers,” says the title). To quote:

The Financial Times is looking to identify leading European patent law firms which are securing patents and protecting European innovation.

What we see here is the press as enabler of abuse and aggression. There’s also this new press release (paid) that speaks of another “EPO” in relation to US patent 10,207,922. In very general terms, we’ve found virtually no journalism about patents over the past week, just promotional ‘articles’ composed by law firms and not a word about software patents, patent quality, etc.

Share in other sites/networks: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Reddit
  • email

Decor ᶃ Gemini Space

Below is a Web proxy. We recommend getting a Gemini client/browser.

Black/white/grey bullet button This post is also available in Gemini over at this address (requires a Gemini client/browser to open).

Decor ✐ Cross-references

Black/white/grey bullet button Pages that cross-reference this one, if any exist, are listed below or will be listed below over time.

Decor ▢ Respond and Discuss

Black/white/grey bullet button If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

DecorWhat Else is New


  1. Links 26/05/2022: AlmaLinux OS 9.0, MooseX::Extended for Perl Introduced

    Links for the day



  2. Links 26/05/2022: Kernel Events and Systemd-Free GNU/Linux Distributions

    Links for the day



  3. Links 26/05/2022: DuckDuckGo Increasingly Exposed as Microsoft Proxy

    Links for the day



  4. EPO Celebrates Software Patents Again, Dubbing Them 'Hey Hi' (AI) and '4IR'

    The ludicrous state of the EPO is demonstrated by yesterday’s puff piece about “four million” (merely requests for monopoly in Europe; most come from outside Europe) and L’Oréal, which claims to have “invented” something that was already done in the 1990s if not the 1980s



  5. [Meme] EPO's Monkey Business: Lowering the Patent Examination Bar

    As we shall show in a moment, EPO President António Campinos has lowered the quality of patents and applications; sooner or later he might outsource the job to ‘livestock’



  6. IRC Proceedings: Wednesday, May 25, 2022

    IRC logs for Wednesday, May 25, 2022



  7. Heads of Patent Offices Are Immune to Coronavirus

    The overconfident chiefs of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and EPO might love speaking about COVID-19 (in relation to patents), but they do not take it seriously themselves



  8. Links 26/05/2022: Plex Finally on GNU/Linux

    Links for the day



  9. The General Consultative Committee of the EPO Exposes a Disaster and a Lack of Genuine Dialogue

    The General Consultative Committee (GCC) at the EPO deals with unlawful proposals from António Campinos (he’s happy to violate laws, constitutions, protocols, conventions, just like Benoît Battistelli did) and once again the abuses by managers is covered up; it’s as if the Office is run by unaccountable gangsters who arrogantly curse at everyone whilst insisting they’re the nicest people ever



  10. The Latest Letter to Josef Kratochvìl and the Heads of Delegation of the Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation

    A week-old letter from the Central Staff Committee (CSC) to the Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation highlights the nature of a crisis; there's no genuine dialogue and staff of the EPO (i.e. the scientists who do all the actual work) is constantly under attack



  11. [Meme] The Recordings Must Have Accidentally Been Lost While Breaking the Rules

    The EPO‘s “nicest” chief, Monopoly Tony, won’t even mention the recordings…



  12. Links 25/05/2022: ‘V Rising’ on GNU/Linux and Pearl Linux OS 11

    Links for the day



  13. Links 25/05/2022: Librem Tries Another Approach

    Links for the day



  14. IRC Proceedings: Tuesday, May 24, 2022

    IRC logs for Tuesday, May 24, 2022



  15. Links 24/05/2022: nginx-1.22.0 and WordPress 6.0

    Links for the day



  16. [Meme] Divine Protection

    You won’t find Monopoly Tony (António Campinos) wearing a mask at the EPO because the rules of the Office do not apply to him



  17. António Campinos and the Alicante Clique (EPO Management, Appointed Based on Nepotism Despite Lack of Qualifications) Nowadays Exploiting Kids for PR Charades

    The sick old habit of exploiting kids for Public Relations (PR) and marketing purposes is all too common at the EPO (they’re constantly exploiting “the children” to associate criticism of the EPO with demeaning the young and innocent), but the management — which enjoys nepotism and immunity rather than relevant skills — carries on today and it’s being called “inaugural”



  18. [Meme] Snake on a Plane

    The EPO‘s President ‘Monopoly Tony’ (António Campinos), whom you never see wearing a mask (none of the photo ops; he does not even socially distance himself from peers, he wears sneakers instead of masks) during the height of a pandemic, is the "f***ing president"; don’t tell him to wear one…



  19. Microsoft GitHub Exposé — Part XX — Entering Phase II

    We're about to resume the long-running series about the sick clique which ran GitHub until the assault on women became too much of a liability (among other wrongdoings and PR blunders)



  20. Links 24/05/2022: Fedora 37 Test Days and Tor Browser 11.0.13

    Links for the day



  21. Microsoft Vidal, as USPTO Director, Already Plays 'Political Cards' to Disguise and Deflect Away From the Corporate Agenda

    Microsoft Vidal, another corporate pawn in charge of the world’s most dangerous patent system, is using soft-spoken defle



  22. Links 24/05/2022: WAL-G 2.0

    Links for the day



  23. IRC Proceedings: Monday, May 23, 2022

    IRC logs for Monday, May 23, 2022



  24. Unethical Advertising, Published as So-called 'Articles', in CNX Software

    As we noted earlier this year, the CNX team is looking for money in the wrong places



  25. Links 23/05/2022: Broadcom to Buy VMware?

    Links for the day



  26. LibreOffice Conference 2022, As Before, Puts the Keynotes on Sale (the Rich Buy Influence, the Price Doubles)

    Discrimination against the community; talks and mentions are based on money, not merit ($2000 has become $4000 in just one year)



  27. Links 23/05/2022: Kdenlive 22.04.1 and New Alpine Linux Released

    Links for the day



  28. António Campinos Promotes Software Patents Using Buzzwords and Sketchy Loopholes With Dubious Legal Basis

    ‘Monopoly Tony’ (António Campinos) is shamelessly manipulating EPO processes at both ends (sender and receiver) to facilitate the illegal granting of invalid European software patents; we’re meant to think this former EU official and imposter (banker) is some guru in the sciences because he reads a lousy speech crafted for him with lots of meaningless buzzwords peppered all over it (he’s not good at reading it, either)



  29. [Meme] Jorgotta Be Kidding Us, Campinos!

    Monopoly Tony (António Campinos) runs the EPO by attacking the very legal basis of the EPO’s existence



  30. Unified Patent Court (UPC) Relies Too Much on Lies and Mischief Without Any Basis in Law

    Today’s video runs through the typical (weekly) lies from Team UPC — lies that are very easy to debunk; Team UPC not only drafted the thing but also looks to profit from it while misleading politicians and bribing publishers to spread intentionally misleading statements (lies)


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