06.03.19

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An Office of Patent Extremists

Posted in Europe, Patents at 12:25 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Maximum volume of patents so that signal gets lost in the noise

Maximum volume

Summary: With maximal quantity of patents the litigation ‘industry’ hopes to start as many legal battles (or ‘assertions’) as possible, in effect taxing Europe rather than spurring innovation in it

LAST year every weekend was spent writing a great deal about 35 U.S.C. § 101/Alice (court cases in particular) and USPTO affairs. This year, seeing that EPO President António Campinos promotes software patents in Europe, we must turn almost all our attention to Europe. Patent maximalism is ruining the continent. Not only patents on mathematics are a symptom; there are also patents on life and nature. It’s just insane. Last night Hanns-Juergen Grosse, partner with D Young & Co, had this post republished by a site of patent maximalists from the US, citing the EPC in relation to double patenting. To quote the gist of it (we covered this subject before):

The approach of the European Patent Office (EPO) to prohibition of double patenting is well established and may, at a first glance, also seem well founded.

Broadly speaking, the prohibition of double patenting is meant to mean that two patents cannot be granted to the same applicant for one invention (in the same jurisdiction). At a closer look, there is a plurality of facets, layers and aspects, producing an exhilarating spectrum of double patenting.

[...]

After the Examining Division decided to refuse European patent application EP 10 718 590.2 in accordance with the applicable Guidelines for Examination at the EPO (Guidelines), G IV, 5.4 under Art. 97(2) EPC in conjunction with Art. 125 EPC, allowing subordinate application of principles of procedural law generally recognised in the contracting states of the EPC, the applicant appealed the decision and auxiliary requested, as occasionally done, that the responsible Board of Appeal (BoA) refers a pivotal question to the Enlarged Board of Appeal (EBoA).

The BoA did not, as usually done, discard the idea of referring the question to the EBoA, but also helped to develop the applicant’s question into a two-tier question, and decided at the end of oral proceedings held on 07 February 2019 in appeal case T 318/14 to refer a detailed set of questions to the EBoA.

[...]

For answers to the questions raised in T 318 /14, the EBoA may have to probe the real intentions of the legislators by going back to the archives and interpreting the Traveaux Préparatoires, the draft documents and minutes produced when the EPC was conceived back in the early 1970s.

Well, the EPC is already violated routinely, including against the Boards themselves.

We worry that the EPO nowadays measures everything in terms such as quantity of patents, never quality. It’s distracting from it all by conflating quantity with quality — a contradictory thing to be doing as one cancels the other (assuming a steady set of resources). We also know, based on leaks, that the EPO prioritises large businesses. It’s all about size and quantity. Of course IAM has done a puff piece for the EUIPO and the EPO, based on their joint 'study' (which they sponsored to glorify themselves and portray themselves as small businesses’ friends).

“The bottom line is, today’s EPO and the likes who lobby the Office don’t care about science, they just want lots of litigation, which necessitates and lot of patents, including low-quality (and invalid) ones.”Again on Sunday this was brought up by IAM, summarised with: “A report by the EUIPO and EPO shows that SMEs which file for patents, trademarks and other IP rights are more likely to enjoy high growth and increasing incomes.”

The EPO mentions “SMEs” several times a week; it’s hoping to distract from its betrayal of SMEs. There’s systematic discrimination against them. It’s a serious credibility issue in a continent with so many SMEs. Does the EPO work for Huawei or for European SMEs? Does it protect monopolists or innovation?

Either way, it certainly seems like the EPO became a lost cause when the litigation ‘industry’ took it as hostage, putting in charge nontechnical people who rarely speak to or meet with scientists. It’s like another Watchtroll, a site of patent extremists that lobbies the US and to a lesser extent Europe as well (and today’s EPO gleefully associates with it!). During the weekend (June 1st) Watchtroll published something titled “A Proposal for Reforming the Current UK Patent Law System Post-Brexit” by Oskar Luong, who “is a law student at Heidelberg University, Germany” (his own description). He claims to know that programmers absolutely need patents and lobbies for software patents in another country. Never mind if he never wrote any software. That doesn’t seem to matter to him. He just lobbies for software patents here in the UK (and no, he’s not a programmer!) and speaks of “Post-Brexit” (as if Brexit is a certainty; it isn’t). Typical Watchtroll, amplifier of parasites vandalising industries for legal fees. “The UK legislator should reconsider its current position” he wrote, “especially vis-à-vis computer programs, which are of paramount importance in today’s business world.”

This logic is illogical. Many businesses use software, hence we need patents?

Many people also breathe air, so let’s start patenting air and lawyers will tell us all how much we ‘owe’ them. Right?

The rest speaks of a “technical contribution” or a “technical effect” — the usual nonsense that the EPO uses to bypass if not grossly violate the EPC. The EPO has been trying to do the same thing (to spread software patents everywhere in the world) while British courts keep telling it off.

The bottom line is, today’s EPO and the likes who lobby the Office don’t care about science, they just want lots of litigation, which necessitates and lot of patents, including low-quality (and invalid) ones.

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