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06.13.19

The EPO is a Patent Troll’s Wet Dream

Posted in Europe, Patents at 8:41 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

A scary look

Summary: The makers of software and games in Europe will have to spend a lot of money just keeping patent trolls off their backs — a fact that seems to never bother EPO management because it profits from it

THE concept of “patent trolls” has long been understood and realised in Europe; rarely did these parasites fulfill their wishes, but I spoke to some people who were victims of trolls, even here in Europe; truly disturbing stories (sleepless nights, fear of being assassinated etc.) because trolls are dodgy to say the least; they’re often just charlatans, frauds and thugs, greedy opportunists looking for a buck until they get caught (sometimes arrested) or stripped of their so-called ‘assets’ (which they sometimes lie about).

The European Patent Office (EPO) has been eerily close to front groups of trolls — sites and fronts that are literally funded by the trolls. António Campinos has been doing so even more than Battistelli; he not only promotes software patents in Europe but routinely meets with trolls who leverage these for blackmail. Campinos never fooled me; look no further than what he had done to EUIPO before he left it. The man is a disgrace and he comes from a disgraced Portuguese bank. My friends from Portugal are always amused when I name this bank. Battistelli came from ENA and Campinos, who studied in France, made his career in a rogue bank. So this French duo is a perfect companion for the charlatans, frauds and thugs patent trolls tend to be (they have threatened me too).

“So this French duo is a perfect companion for the charlatans, fraud and thugs patent trolls tend to be (they have threatened me too).”There are of course also law firms that are particularly close to trolls; they view the trolls as clients, they habitually represent them in courts. There’s a great degree of overlap between them and Team UPC, which lobbied for a fast lane/track for trolls. Any unitary ‘patents’ would be more economic not for SMEs but for enforcers such as trolls, to whom concept such as “scope of operation” does not apply; it’s inapplicable because they make nothing at all and merely sue those who do, as often and as widely as possible. Matteo Pes, a patent attorney, has just admitted: “Personally I’m battled. On one side, I would welcome courts with judges specialized in IP and expedite proceedings. On the other side, the UPC seems a top-down reform, expensive, that could easily put SMEs out of the games. And I like SMEs…”

Notice that he responded to Team UPC with their usual lies (which we won’t reproduce here). A truly nasty and malicious firm, Bardehle Pagenberg, a firm which lobbies for illegal software patents, has also just published shameless self-promotion titled “European Patent Opposition Proceedings”; they probably find that their troll ‘clients’ don’t get too easy a time in tribunals/courts.

What chance does the UPC stand anyway? Leaping past the stage of justice and onto kangaroo courts? Judging by how things are going, there are far too many barriers to it. Among them: Hungary, Germany, the UK and even Czechia. We’ve lost count, but Benjamin Henrion (FFII) has just highlighted this article titled “Ratification of UPC Agreement in Czechia postponed. Forever?”

To quote:

Last year the Czech Industrial Property Office and the Ministry of Industry and Trade commissioned a study on the overall impacts of the patent package on the Czech Republic. The Czech Republic signed the UPC Agreement but has not ratified it yet.

The study was carried out by PWC. Its conclusions include clear recommendation not to hurry with ratification but rather to wait for the system to be implemented in countries that have already ratified the package, and for their experience with its functioning.

The study quotes among the main reasons for postponement the legal and constitutional hurdles and the likely negative economic impact on Czech SMEs. While SMEs play a major role in the Czech economy they hardly apply for any patents. According to the study less than 0,1% of all European patent applications was filed by Czech companies. For instance, in 2016 the total number of patent applications filed by CZ companies with EPO amounts to 185, most of these applications originate from large enterprises such as Skoda Auto or Zentiva. The study concludes that if patent package is ratified the Czech SMEs would be passive recipients of the new system not its active players. Though the total numbers of European patents validated in the Czech Republic is rapidly growing (in 2016 almost six thousand EPs were validated in Czechia), this amount corresponds to only 6,5% of all European patents. Things could however drastically change for SMEs if patent package comes into force and it is ratified by Czech Parliament. Suddenly not merely thousands but dozens of thousands of unitary patents are likely to flood the Czech economy. This would significantly increase the SMEs costs for freedom to operate clearance searches and obviously the likelihood of patent infringement disputes against Czech SMEs as well. The study points out that Czech SMEs may lack necessary financial resources for clearance searches and for their effective defence in patent litigation at UPC should they be sued for patent infringement.

The differences in terms of litigations costs between the current system in Czechia and proposed UPC system would be immense and could lead to liquidation of many Czech SMEs who could not afford to defend themselves at UPC even if the patent claims raised against them would be unsubstantiated.

The EPO is so desperate for the UPC that it tries to pretend that it listens to the public (it is not) and it spends a fortune on some stupid ‘festival’ in which it associates itself with scientists (there’s another one coming soon). Days ago the EPO also published this belated English translation (warning: epo.org link) of an article that says or speaks of “Moon talk, astronauts and inventions at the Deutsches Museum.” The EPO’s obsession with space and with greenwashing is part of the PR strategy. They want to make it seem as though corrupt people are actually science champions for humanity. Today’s increasingly corrupt EPO management is deeply pathetic, but it is still trying to associate itself with science and scientists while mostly hiring lawyers (in-house lawyers too) to attack scientists/staff while weaponising patent trolls. No doubt the trolls are loving all this; they foresee the future of mass litigation, which is already reported as a present issue by those who put together the numbers. Litigation in Germany is soaring and trolls count for the sharp rise.

Days ago we took note of the exceedingly promotional press release from Americorp Investments (e.g. “Americorp’s newest patent allows for creation of customized wagers”, “Americorp Investments And Arrow Gaming Expand Gaming Portfolios” and “Americorp Investments awarded additional US gaming patent”). These suggest it has no plans other than becoming a patent troll with bogus software patents, even at EPO member states (the EPO is explicitly mentioned in all those). Americorp Investments shows all the classic hallmarks of a patent troll preparing for a shakedown campaign (behind the scenes if possible), using a string of utterly ridiculous press releases. To quote one portion:

Americorp Investments, a company focused on acquiring, developing and commercializing innovative technologies for the gaming industry, announced Tuesday that it has been awarded an additional patent by the United States Patent Office. This patent is the 25th U.S. patent for gaming granted to Americorp or its affiliate Arrow Gaming. Americorp and Arrow also hold six gaming patents issued in Japan and the Philippines and have 37 gaming and related blockchain technology patents pending in the EPO and PCT countries and jurisdictions worldwide.

More of these patents are being granted — patents that must be rejected as bunk and void. Stop patenting maths! This troll is going after companies, demanding money for patents that would cost money to challenge. We’ve covered such stories before, namely game makers that are blackmailed by the likes of Americorp. This time it matters to us even more because of the explicitly-stated role of the EPO.

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