07.19.19

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Demand for European Patents Will Continue to Decrease If a Lot of European Patents Turn Out to be Invalid, Worthless

Posted in Europe, Patents at 3:39 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“No man is justified in doing evil on the ground of expediency.”

Theodore Roosevelt

Theodore Roosevelt

Summary: The EPO’s abandonment of patent justice and quality (in pursuit of so-called ‘production’ targets) is likely to doom the Office as the whole or render it vastly less relevant to the rest of the world

Patent quality has been severely compromised by the EPO — to the point of being totally detached from the EPC and several other things. The Battistelli-appointed (de facto) António Campinos actively promotes software patents in Europe (using some buzzwords) and there’s now this pilot (CQI) to further lower patent quality while the EPO publicly lies about its concerns on the matter.

“We know whose side the law is on, but the EPO quit obeying the law several years ago.”The EPO cannot eternally rely on terrorising its judges and then covering it up. Sooner or later more and more European Patents will come under scrutiny outside EPOnia (or Haar, which is obviously outside EPOnia and thus unsuitable a venue, according to the EPC). What happens then? Can the EPO continue until eternity (or its end of life) to disregard judges’ precedents (except internal judgments which are constitutionally invalid) and carry on granting fake patents? Applications will decrease in number as soon as applicants spot these trends. This is already happening.

Earlier on this week, or yesterday, Bart van Wezenbeek wrote about a District Court of The Hague case (this case’s date is exactly one month ago, June 19th) in which dubious patents were assessed in European courts. To quote:

In the present case, it appeared from the prosecution file that the limitation had been introduced with a purpose, and the patentee had accepted the limiting examiner’s amendments. Taken together with the fact that the patentee could be considered a professional party with sufficient knowledge in the field of patents, this means that the scope of the claim was determined more by the literal interpretation of the claim than by the concept of the invention behind it.

In this particular case it’s an American ‘pharma vulture’ doing the litigation against a Dutch company. Annsley Merelle Ward from a firm that boosts patent predators (Bristows LLP) wrote about it last month, whereupon we also wrote about it, noting that “European Patents are already being leveraged by foreign (US) giants, which claim to be worth hundreds of billions of dollars based on exploitative monopolies, to bully generics out of the market. Courts decide the lawsuits are baseless, frivolous.”

It’s not a sole example. According to this new report, “European Patent Office Revokes Second Pacific Biosciences Patent” (from GenomeWeb), the EPO has once again admitted that it granted a fake patent and it’s only being ‘actioned’ because someone invested in correcting it:

NEW YORK – The European Patent Office this week revoked another patent held by Pacific Biosciences, according to Oxford Nanopore, the firm’s main competitor.

Not even the first time!

Awful patent quality is the direct result of unprecedented pressure being put on examiners, who probably do the best they can under the unreasonable conditions/circumstances. But if this carries on, why would companies still apply for European Patents? Fewer of them would. Juve very recently took note of the decline in demand for European Patents. It’s not hypothetical; it’s already happening.

We’ve just spotted this new comment in IP Kat, published about a day ago after some IP Kat puff piece about EQEs (separate thread). To quote:

No-body serious considers the EQEs to be a gold-standard of practice. Since they are time-limited exams they will necessarily not award points in Paper C for novelty/inventive step arguments against claims that are already dealt with as added matter, but this is not real life.

In real life, added matter is included as an objection in probably the majority of oppositions, but the sensible attorney will also make arguments on novelty/inventive step and other grounds if these are viable. In real life only deciding that there is added matter, and not even considering novelty/inventive step in case your decision on added matter is incorrect, will simply waste time in the long run in the majority of cases.

One of the criticisms regularly levelled at both the PEB exams and the EQEs is that they ignore commercial realities. Typcially this is because they require you to do things that the client doesn’t normally want. P6/FD4 is criticised for requiring integer-by-integer claim construction analysis that no sane client wants you to do, whilst Paper B requires you to cover-off points that no-one writing a response in real life would think worth the cost of responding to.

However, here we have an example of the exams requiring that you do not do something that the client actually typically wants – to make novelty/inventive step argument just in case your cleverly-drafted added matter arguments fail. Attorneys know that commercial reality demands this – it is only good when courts also realise this in making their decisions.

Courts should disregard this “commercial reality” and instead focus on what underlying laws (e.g. EPC, caselaw) say. The EPO likes to pretend that it is business-friendly, but the only business it’s friendly to is the litigation ‘industry’. To ordinary European SMEs the EPO became nothing but a liability and a menace. We know whose side the law is on, but the EPO quit obeying the law several years ago.

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