04.24.19

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Supreme Court of the UK, Which Habitually Throws Out European Patents, May Overturn Troublesome Unwired Planet v Huawei Decision

Posted in Courtroom, Europe, Patents at 2:07 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Bad news for patent trolls and their legal representatives (the likes of Bristows/Team UPC)

A jungle
“But they’re GREEN monopolies! They’re GREEN!!!”

Summary: A lot of European Patents are facing growing scrutiny from courts (Team UPC, including Bristows, publicly complains about it this month) and “greenwashing” of the Office won’t be enough to paint/frame these patents as “ethical”

HAVING just covered the German Federal patent court's take on SPCs, weakening/limiting the breadth of some European Patents, let’s also consider the fact that Mayo may cause the USPTO to reject similar patents in the US (patents on food). Today’s EPO, under the leadership of António Campinos, is arguably more lenient than the USPTO. Some people from Team UPC have said that software patents are now easier to get in Europe than in the United States (where such patents originally came from, due to the Federal Circuit‘s decision/stance about half a century back). Owing to 35 U.S.C. § 101/Alice (US Supreme Court), software patents are pretty much worthless in American courts nowadays; the same goes for patents on nature, owing for the most part to Mayo (there’s also Myriad). Weeks ago we saw the UK Supreme Court (highest British court) knocking down a European Patent on natural compounds (where the supposed innovation was a recipe).

Are we indeed seeing the Alpine avalanche of European Patents? Is it the beginning of the collapse? The rumbling of snow? Sooner or later it will come down and it will cover everything in its path.

Yesterday we caught this important new blog post from Florian, who we knew back then would be followed by a lot of ‘press’ coverage (authored and published by law firms, not actual journalists, i.e. the usual). It’s about the most infamous patent troll of Ericsson, whose legal wars in London posed a great threat to British software companies. The name of this troll keeps changing — pretty normal practice among trolls looking to dodge the negative past publicity. It’s currently known as “Unwired Planet” and we included articles about this latest development in yesterday’s (afternoon) daily links alongside this coverage by Rose Hughes for Richard Vary (Bird & Bird, Team UPC, FRAND zealots). We prefer not to link to it (published 35 minutes after Florian’s blog post) because that tends to promote lies of the FRAND lobby. This blog typically pushes such coverage (on this case and this topic in general) from “AmeriKat” (Bristows), but this time it’s their ‘sibling’ Bird & Bird. Expect Bristows to say much more (and complain) in blogs such as IP Kat and Kluwer Patent Blog in the coming days. To quote Bird & Bird: “As discussed on IPKat here, the Court of Appeal decisions in Unwired Planet and Conversant were significant. The Court found that the English courts have jurisdiction in considering and determining the terms of a global FRAND licence. The courts could not force Huawei to enter into a global licence. However, the court could prevent Huawei from using the technology to which the SEPs relate, unless they entered into a global licence.”

It would not at all surprise us if these patent trolls are Bird & Bird clients (without disclosure), i.e. they represent these parasitic, villainous trolls. The case in question relates to a patent troll of Microsoft, albeit indirectly. This troll is currently called “Conversant” (formerly MOSAID) and maybe it will rename again in the future. Their names are a dime a dozen and they don’t have any real operations. They don’t need a brand; they sell nothing.

The above case may serve to overturn a dangerous decision that threatens Free/libre software among many other things (including fair competition). When shifting to courts outside the UK, as they sometimes do, trolls want decisions that are more favourable to them (e.g. in Eastern Texas and its German equivalents). Thankfully, the UPC(A) seems to be permanently dead. More dead than ever. We’re past Easter now and there’s no sign of progress. Seeing the judges’ persistent ‘exile’ in Haar, the FCC in Germany won’t be impressed. The EPO cannot be trusted with anything. “The Convention watchdog” left this comment some days ago and hours ago it was belatedly (almost a week late) approved. It says:

As to geography:

To make it quite clear, the Landkreis München is not a broader area than the City of Munich but a different area. It comprises municipalities outside Munich but not Munich itself.

In this respect, the referring decision addresses an interesting point at Reasons, pt. 3.3. The Headquarters Agreement between the European Patent Organisation and Germany, concluded implementing Art. 25 of the Protocol on Privileges and Immunities, contains in its Articles 11 and 12 provisions on the premises of the Organisation in Munich and of the Berlin sub-office. The Berlin sub-office has its legal basis in Section I, Article 3 a) of the Protocol on Centralisation which is part of the Convention pursuant to Art. 164 (1) EPC. The case of Rijswijk is governed by the corresponding Agreement with the Netherlands, defining in its Article 1: “branch” means the branch of the European Patent Office at The Hague (Rijswijk), in order to make clear that the existing premises of the IIB are covered by the Agreement and the Protocol on Privileges and Immunities. In any case this shows that the legal situation for Berlin and Rijswijk is different from the situation for Haar. The competence in Article 7 EPC to create further sub-offices does not cover sub-offices for the departments of the EPO entrusted with procedural functions under the Convention.

Another person then wrote: “Why does the possible interpretation of “Munich” as “Landkreis München” have to be *exclusive* of the City of Munich? Would it not also be in keeping with the Vienna Convention to interpret “Munich” in Art. 6 EPC as meaning “a location within either of the City of Munich and Landkreis München”?”

Imagine what would happen if all patent cases were decided by the same system that kicked out these judges to Haar, probably in direct violation of the EPC. As an act of retaliation (or scare tactics) from Office management…

Today’s EPO lacks legitimacy and Campinos has done absolutely nothing to change that. It’s like “greenwashing” of the Office, a man with a smile who stabs you as soon as you turn around.

Speaking of greenwash, there’s this new article about the EPO’s PATSTAT. It’s about patent monopolies on “sustainable innovation”, i.e. things you are not allowed to do in order to combat climate issues. Here they go again with epic greenwash:

Green Tech DB uses patents in order to provide a database that offers a comprehensive overview of the developments of Green Technologies worldwide.

Researches use the PATSTAT 2016a database as their patent source; which is produced by the European Patent Office (EPO). “The main advantage of using PATSTAT, a database produced by the European Patent Office, is to have information about patent applications that covers more than 80 different countries. As a patent is a legal object, information available in different patent databases is similar, what differs is the coverage across time and countries, and PATSTAT has one of the best coverage.”

The EPO’s database of patents used to be a source of envy, but nowadays it is polluted by loads of bogus patents which would cost a fortune to invalidate.

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