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07.20.19

Companies That Collapse Because the European Patent Office (EPO) Gave Them Fake Patents in a Hurry

Posted in Europe, Patents at 7:28 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

When you’re being granted a monopoly that later turns out to have been invalid all along

Hurry

Summary: False hopes and false promises won’t do any favours to European Patents, whose legal certainty suffers because Campinos and Battistelli measure nothing but ‘production’ (quantity) rather than quality of patents

THE European Patent Office (EPO) cannot carry on pretending that it values patent quality. On Friday night we wrote about decline in patent quality and around the same time came out this report entitled “Here’s Why Pacific Biosciences Is Tumbling Today” from Microsoft’s network (Motley Fool). In short, it happened because the EPO had granted a fake patent; we saw similar stories before (see last year’s A Danish Company Has Just Collapsed Due to Patent Quality Issues at the EPO). As long as the EPO keeps granting software patents and patents on life/nature oppositions will come and courts will shoot down European Patents, discrediting the very concept of such patents.

The latest:

Shares of Pacific Biosciences (NASDAQ:PACB) fell over 14% today as investors grappled with more bad news for long-read DNA sequencing power. The latest twist comes courtesy of the European Patent Office (EPO), which revoked a second patent for the company pertaining to its ability to read long, uninterrupted strands of DNA with its machines. More specifically, the EPO found that the patent in question made too broad a claim to “single molecule sequencing,” which is central to the company’s entire technology platform.

A shrinking patent portfolio isn’t ideal, but it’s compounded by recent news from the United Kingdom’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). The trade body has referred the company’s pending acquisition by Illumina (NASDAQ:ILMN) for an in-depth investigation after the parties failed to address the CMA’s concerns raised from an initial inquiry that began in April, as first reported by The Motley Fool. Turns out both the patent dispute and the antitrust investigation have a similar root cause: Oxford Nanopore, a start-up based in the United Kingdom.

We’re going to see more and more stories like that. If not for the oppositions and appeal boards, it will be actual courts (outside EPOnia and Haar, which is technically outside of EPOnia in overt violation of the EPC) deeming such patents invalid. Over the past few months, more so than the past few years, we’ve seen examples of this every week. We shall cover such examples (that become known to us) and repeatedly stress the need for quality.

“It’s like there’s a very deliberate ‘blackout’ and key platforms that used to criticise the EPO are nowadays very much complicit.”Last month we covered the EPO’s “Collaborative Quality Improvements” (CQI), formerly known as “Team Collaboration Project” (it’s the opposite of the name). Notice how no European media, not even so-called ‘IP’ blogs, touched the subject. It’s like there’s a very deliberate ‘blackout’ and key platforms that used to criticise the EPO are nowadays very much complicit.

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