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09.19.19

When the EPO Sees Itself as Above European Law, Grants Patents in Defiance of the EPC (Its Founding Document) and Violates Staff’s Labour Rights/Protections (International Law)

Posted in Europe, Law, Patents at 10:42 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Skeleton

Summary: The absurd state of affairs at the EPO has reached the point where laws at every level are being violated and even judges are being threatened or vainly ignored; the EU is belatedly trying to tackle these issues, which have actually cost its credibility a great deal and threaten the perception of Rule of Law at multiple levels

THE WAY things are going, the European Patent Office (EPO) does everything it takes for its critics to be proven correct. The current president was appointed by nepotism (Battistelli), he refuses to undo illegal rules, and moreover he’s meeting disgraced officials to undermine the EPC (like 35 U.S.C. § 101 in the US for some parts of it) whilst actively promoting software patents in Europe. They’re not even shy to show their disdain/hatred of the law and rather fundamental rules. What motivates them to do all that self-harming stuff? Do they not genuinely care about the future of Europe, including the Office? They’re supposed to at least listen to the staff and the general public, not impose their will on both. This shouldn’t be a hard concept to grasp. Power comes from consent typically; otherwise brutality becomes necessary and things get rather ugly very fast.

“Power comes from consent typically; otherwise brutality becomes necessary and things get rather ugly very fast.”We’ve been tracking EPO abuses for quite some time; hardly anything is improving, only suppressed. Discussion in the media is nowadays nearly dead. Not because anything was tackled/resolved; unless the EPO thinks that the sole issue it had was ‘hostile’ media.

Months ago we wrote about “Collaborative Quality Improvements” (CQI) — a programme whose net goal would be further reductions in patent quality. How low can it go? Earlier this week the EPO wrote: “Today we are hosting a conference on #3Dprinting. EPO examiners across all sectors are preparing to face challenges this emerging tech brings.”

Surely the EPO understands that the patents it grants are a barrier and affront to 3-D printing i.e. they slow down innovation and have already held back this domain for decades (famously so; UAVs also).

Distracting from the real news, which is the EPO's "fascist bills", the EPO still writes about the latest ‘state visit’ in Munich — one in which the Romania-born Andrei Iancu was present to promote patent maximalism on behalf of American corporations. Iancu and the EPO are management-leaning bureaucrats — two names one associates with attacks on justice and judges for the sake of corporate profits. The USPTO wrote: “Our productive conversations will lead to even more collaboration between our two offices. We value our close friendship with the EPO and look forward to further strengthening our relationship in ways that will benefit our stakeholders in the U.S. and Europe.” ~ Director Iancu.”

The EPO retweeted this.

We’ve meanwhile found this new press release about a patent front group for software patents (IPO), which has “Keynote speakers include Antonio Campinos, President, European Patent Office; The Honorable Andrei Iancu…”

That the EPO continues to openly associate with lobbyists of aggressors from the US (that’s what IPO is) doesn’t shock is. It’s not surprising us anymore. Nor does the fact that last week they mentioned the UPC, probably for the first time in a very long while (many months). They’re not totally giving up just yet. A couple of days ago Mondaq published this self-promotional piece for Markus Gampp LL.M. (DLA Piper), who said: “Nonetheless, Brexit does not necessarily mean the end for the UPC and the entire reform project.”

It does. In its current form it’s dead. Finished. Needs restarting the process (if ever). And here are all the relevant paragraphs:

However, the UK leaving the EU will likely have substantial impact on the biggest reform in the history of European patent law: the long-awaited introduction of the European patent with unitary effect and the Unified Patent Court (UPC). This system would enable a patentee to enforce their patent across Europe with just one action before the UPC. All decisions taken by the UPC, including injunctions, damages and decisions on the validity of a patent would have pan-European effect.

The UK was to play a vital role in this ambitious project, inter alia by hosting a branch of the court’s central division in London. As the underlying agreements currently stand, as a non-EU member the UK can not participate in the UPC. The new system can only enter into force upon ratification by 13 member states, including the UK and Germany. The German ratification is currently on hold pending resolution of a constitutional challenge against the national legislation implementing the UPC. While some have advocated this possibility, it appears highly doubtful whether the UK could participate in the UPC system as a non-EU member when it comes into force.

Nonetheless, Brexit does not necessarily mean the end for the UPC and the entire reform project. There are ways (eg through bilateral agreements) by which the UK may conceivably still participate. However, this could potentially take years to implement, causing a significant delay.

No legal system can be entrusted/empowered under the EPO. Evidence is everywhere.

Brian Cordery (Bristows) has meanwhile invoked another event of patent maximalists, AIPPI. He’s now pushing patents on life in Kluwer Patent Blog. The usual greedy, dishonest Team UPC taking points; “Echoing a point made by Sir Robin Jacob in his address at the Opening Ceremony,” he wrote, “the message was clear from the outset: when it comes to the form of claims in antibody patents, the US is the odd one out.”

It’s a race to the bottom for them.

Europe has come to the point of embracing patent quality even lower than that of the United States. How? By deliberately violating the EPC. The judges, who no longer have any autonomy, typically let it be. They can get ousted otherwise.

Some people who pay to promote their promotional sales pitch tell us that the “Technical Boards of Appeal as well as the Legal Board are independent” (no, Weickmann & Weickmann’s Christian Heubeck should know this is no longer the case). Here’s the whole paragraph in question, published just days ago:

The Boards of Appeal of the European Patent Office, i.e. the judicial panel of the second instance of the EPO, examine appeals from the decisions of the Receiving Section, the Examining and Opposition Divisions of the European Patent Office. The Technical Boards of Appeal as well as the Legal Board are independent and are bound only by the European Patent Convention (EPC). The procedure before the Boards of Appeal is outlined in the Rules of Procedure of the Boards of Appeal.

This is totally false; it’s nonsense because everyone including examiners and the Boards themselves know that independent judges are no more; it’s not the fault of the judges either. It’s the fault of the Office and the Council, which work collaboratively to crush the EPC. This is why the EPO is so absurd; it does follow even its own rules. This isn’t a particularly new problem.

Consider our various new articles about Stallman being pushed out [1, 2] for having said tactless things that were then distorted and spun by hostile media. As Benjamin Henrion has just put it (upon the news about Stallman): “Stallman an opened our eyes that the European Patent Office (EPO) was a “corrupt and malicious organization which should not exist”. Intergovernmental organizations like FIFA are designed to be captured and corrupted” [] Stallman: “But if the European Patent Office stands in your way, get rid of it too” [] Maybe one day we get someone who realize the EPO construction was not respecting the ‘rule of law’ principle…”

He then highlighted this new page about the EPO rejecting orders from our representatives in the EU: [via]

Barrier-free access to plant material is essential for the innovative capacity of the European plant-breeding sector and farmers, as well as for the genetic variety of our crops and the health of EU citizens.

In 2015, the Enlarged Board of Appeal of the European Patent Office (EPO) ruled that products obtained from essentially biological processes, such as plants, seeds, native traits and genes, are patentable. On the basis of this decision, a broccoli and a tomato variety were effectively patented (Cases G2/12 (tomatoes) and G2/13 (broccoli)).

In response, the European Parliament adopted a resolution[1] on 17 December 2015 calling for clarification of patent law for plants. In its Notice of 8 November 2016, the Commission stated that it was never the intention to grant patents on natural traits that are introduced into plants by means of essentially biological processes such as crossing and selection. All Member States supported this reading and the Board of Directors of the EPO eventually amended its policy so as not to grant patents on products from essentially biological processes.

Unfortunately, the Technical Board of Appeal of the EPO rejected this decision on 18 December 2018, arguing that the European Patent Convention takes precedence over the EPO’s implementing rules and that patents on plants may therefore be granted.

At this stage, the President of the EPO has requested a final judgement from the Enlarged Board of Appeal to conclude the issue. Third parties are entitled to submit written statements on the matter to the Enlarged Board before 1 October 2019.

Does the Commission intend to submit a written statement to the Enlarged Board of Appeal of the EPO in order to protect the innovative capacity of the European plant-breeding sector and the general public interest?

What action does the Commission envisage taking to ensure that products resulting from natural processes are not patentable?

Here’s more on that in other new pages. At least some politicians are paying attention to the way a corrupt EPO management ignores European Parliament and grants these illegal patents anyway, helped by judges who are threatened by Office management (in direct defiance of the EPC).

“EPs will quiz the EU Commission on Monday on how to ensure that products obtained from essentially biological processes, such as crossing, cannot be patented,” says this new page: [via]

The European Patent Office’s (EPO) Enlarged Board of Appeal decided in March 2015 in the tomato (G0002/12) and broccoli (G0002/13) cases that products obtained from essentially biological processes, such as crossing, can obtain patent protection. The European Parliament responded in December 2015 with a non-binding resolution demanding that EU rules be clarified and reiterating its objection, from May 2012, to patentability of products derived from conventional breeding.

After the European Commission intervened in November 2016, the EPO amended its policy so as not to grant patents on products obtained from essentially biological breeding processes. However, the EPO’s Technical Board of Appeal rejected this decision in December 2018, arguing that the European Patent Convention takes precedence over EPO’s implementing rules.

We certainly hope that all (or at least most) EPO examiners agree with us that patent maximalism at the EPO helps neither examiners nor the Office. It merely discredits the whole institution and harms science for the sake of profits (companies like Bayer/Monsanto). People who protest in front of the EPO and demonstrate against the EU (in forms like a rebellious Brexit referendum) are motivated/emboldened by utterly disgraceful behaviour such as this. We deserve better than this. We don’t need patent lunacy (patents on life and nature) and patent trolls. We don’t need the UPC either. We need to think what would best serve Europe’s place in science and technology (worldwide). Not law firms’ interests.

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