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04.06.19

Even Patent Maximalists Are Not Happy With António Campinos Referring Question of Patents on Life to the Enlarged Board of Appeal

Posted in Europe, Patents at 11:33 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Two months ago: Teff is Not an Invention. Teff is Nature.

Purple flower

Summary: The EPO keeps granting patents on life and nature (likely to be rejected by actual courts) and in order to add some “legal” veneer to this notorious if not illegal practice the EPO keeps issuing ridiculous statements which even patent maximalists aren’t pleased with

THE European Patent Office (EPO) is becoming lousier than the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) when it comes to patent quality, thanks to Battistelli and fellow Frenchman António Campinos, an old friend whom he gave the job to (he had arranged this appointment behind the scenes, as we covered at the time).

“Does the Office wait for a decision? No. In the midst of supposed ‘uncertainty’ it’s just granting patents on life and nature.”Does the EPO want to ever repair its shattered reputation? Obviously not. It hopes that some “legal theatre” will do the job, but people aren’t falling for it. The way people see it, the EPO continues to pursue ways by which to break the law (and grant illegal patents on life and nature). But does it work? Nope.

Even Kluwer Patent Blog isn’t buying it!

This new anonymous article is quoting some recent comments and then CIPA. The position of CIPA was mentioned here twice in the past week. Here are some portions:

The decision of the Administrative Council of the EPO to refer to the Enlarged Board of Appeal (EBA) decision T 1063/18 on the patentability of plants obtained by essentially biological processes has been criticized from various sides.

A week ago, during the 159th meeting of the EPO Administrative Council, president António Campinos said his referral of the case to the Enlarged Board of Appeal was ‘justified and necessary’ and, according to a press release, he received ‘broad and overwhelming support’ for this. Campinos announced that he would ‘proceed swiftly to submit the referral (…) to restore legal certainty fully and speedily in the interest of the users of the European patent system and the general public.’

[...]

It is not clear whether EPO president Campinos has already submitted the referral of case T 1063/18 to the Enlarged Board of Appeal and when the EBA will decide about it. But considering the reactions in just one week’s time, one can conclude that the referral will unlikely lead to Campinos’ proclaimed aim of restoring ‘legal certainty fully and speedily in the interest of the users of the European patent system and the general public.’ And it is a reason for concern that the Administrative Council, which has often been criticized in the last years for not controlling the president (for instance in the deep social conflicts, which unfortunately are far from over at the EPO) has given this obviously legally very questionable measure its ‘overwhelming support’.

It’s curious that the EPO has just issued yet another statement on this matter (warning: epo.org link) a little more than a day ago (late on Friday, as usual). This is the second time in a week:

Today, pursuant to Article 112(1)(b) EPC, the President of the EPO has submitted questions to the Enlarged Board of Appeal which relate to the patentability of plants exclusively obtained by essentially biological processes and to decision T 1063/18 of a Technical Board of Appeal of December 2018. In the referral the President of the EPO seeks the Enlarged Board of Appeal to clarify the applicable legal framework.

The EPO reacts to the concerns expressed by the Contracting States, the user community and representatives of civil society who are worried about legal uncertainty resulting from decision T 1063/18.

The President of the EPO considers the referral to the Enlarged Board of Appeal as an important step on the way to restore legal certainty in the interest of the users of the European patent system and the general public.

The possibility of a referral to the Enlarged Board of Appeal was presented end of March at a meeting of the Administrative Council and met with broad support.

The above was published along with another late Friday puff piece (warning: epo.org link) about the monarchy of EPO finding another monarchy to liaise with (Battistelli used to do that with former French colonies run by autocrats like himself).

As usual, Campinos is quoted to personify the Office. There’s no photo op this time around.

Does the Office wait for a decision? No. In the midst of supposed ‘uncertainty’ it’s just granting patents on life and nature. Like a printing machine!

Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News has just covered a disturbing new development that was mentioned the other day by advocacy sites of patents on life and nature. To quote:

The European Patent Office (EPO) has granted a third CRISPR-Cas9 patent to the regents of the University of California (UC), the University of Vienna, and CRISPR pioneer Emmanuelle Charpentier, PhD, director and scientific member at the Max Planck Institute of Infection Biology, Berlin.

EPO Patent No. 3,401,400 claims methods and compositions of using CRISPR/Cas9 to modify DNA and regulate gene activity in eukaryotic cells, including kits to carry out such work. The patent was granted March 1, but disclosed through publication by EPO on Wednesday.

An also mentioned the other day was a press release about RealD’s European Patent, which it is celebrating in paid press releases and puff pieces (e.g. in “Advanced Television” yesterday) simply because the Opposition Division did not throw it out. To quote the “Advanced Television” puff piece:

3D specialists RealD has won a Patent action against German-based Volfoni and its associated companies which protects its IP.

On April 4th, RealD said that the European Patent Office’s (EPO) Opposition Division has upheld the validity of another of its key patents for light-doubling 3D cinema projection systems. As a result, RealD’s European patent that covers triple-beam 3D cinema projection systems (EP2846180) remains in full force.

The Opposition Division is not an appeal board or a patent court. In fact, as we pointed out before the weekend, the Opposition Division does not even enjoy independence from the autocratic management of the EPO. The Opposition Division doen’t exercise true freedom and based on the latest 'circular' from SUEPO examiners who point out declines in quality (examination, assessment, reassessment) face scorn if not threats from management.

Suffice to say, software patents are still being granted (abstract European Patents) and the EPO could be seen promoting these again under the guise of "blockchain" in a Friday tweet: “The #patent landscape needs to develop in tandem with #blockchain, a growing technology.”

They allude not just to management of EPO data but to EPO granting patents on things with linked lists or databases in them, even if they’re purely software. This is illegal. It’s in violation of the EPC.

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