EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

10.14.19

“The Stupidest [Patent/Tax] Policy Ever”

Posted in Europe, Finance, Patents at 12:13 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Ask her what she thinks of the status quo

Mariana Mazzucato
By Alex Taffetani. Own work, CC BY 3.0.

Summary: It’s pretty clear that today’s European patent system has been tilted grossly in favour of super-rich monopolists and their facilitators (overzealous law firms and ‘creative’ accountants) as opposed to scientists

Economists sometimes speak negatively and critically about today’s patent systems, seeing how far patent scope has come and how much litigation this incurs. Only those with very deep pockets can endure and pursue real justice. The USPTO has been compelled to stop that, partly owing to 35 U.S.C. § 101. The European Patent Office (EPO), on the other hand, persists like there’s no tomorrow and the sky is the limit when it comes to patent grants. António Campinos and Battistelli measure nothing but “products”; “quality” has come to mean speed (or pendency).

“This is often being done in Europe by companies that aren’t even European!”Patents have moreover become an “asset” for legal departments and law firms, not scientists. Just check who’s best served by them, especially in Europe.

In a new article/interview an economist called Mariana Mazzucato spoke of loopholes for tax evasion — basically tricks that have made it “legal” for large companies with patent monopolies to not pay tax on large transactions. This is often being done in Europe by companies that aren’t even European! To quote some bits: [via]

But a narrative of innovation that omitted the role of the state was exactly what corporations had been deploying as they lobbied for lax regulation and low taxation. According to a study by Mazzucato and economist Bill Lazonick, between 2003 and 2013 publicly listed companies in the S&P 500 index used more than half of their earnings to buy back their shares to boost stock prices, rather than reinvesting it back into further research and development. Pharmaceutical company Pfizer, for example, spent $139bn (£112bn) on share buybacks. Apple, which had never engaged in this type of financial engineering under Jobs, started doing so in 2012. By 2018, it had spent nearly one trillion dollars on share buybacks. “Those profits could be used to fund research and training for workers,” Mazzucato says. “Instead they are often used on share buybacks and golfing.”

That posed an urgent, more fundamental problem. If it was the state, not the private sector, which had traditionally assumed the risks of uncertain technological enterprises that led to the development of aviation, nuclear energy, computers, nanotechnology, biotechnology and the internet, how were we going to find the next wave of technologies to tackle urgent challenges such as catastrophic climate change, the epidemic of antibiotic resistance, the rise of dementia? “History tells us that innovation is an outcome of a massive collective effort – not just from a narrow group of young white men in California,” Mazzucato says. “And if we want to solve the world’s biggest problems, we better understand that.”

[...]

Soon, she became a regular visitor at Whitehall, advising both Cable and Willetts on policies such as the Small Business Research Initiative, which funded small and medium enterprises, and the patent box, which reduced the rate of corporate tax on income derived from patents (which she calls “the stupidest policy ever”).

Mazzucato knew that to influence politicians she would need to do more than just criticise. “The reason progressives often lose the argument is that they focus too much on wealth redistribution and not enough on wealth creation,” she says. “We need a progressive narrative that’s not only about spending, but investing in smarter ways.”

Patent policy as it currently stands needs reforming, but the EPO goes in the opposite direction. What it means by “reform” is making it worse, or making it more favourable to lawyers at the expense of scientists. Or programmers… after all, software patents are being granted in Europe in defiance of the law and against the will of actual programmers!

Notice how law firms refuse to speak out against software patents. They’re complicit. Quiet this weekend at IP Kat, as usual, except the article “2019 updates to the EPO Guidelines for Examination” — one of the latest such articles which we’ve mentioned lately (this blog is not the first to break down these changes).

“The exclusion of computer programs from patentability,” a section further down the bottom, speaks of “the [guidelines'] section relating the patentability of artificial intelligence and machine learning.” Rose Hughes speaks of what comes into effect in just over a fortnight from now:

The updated version of the EPO Guidelines for Examination is now available (here). The new guidelines come into force on 1 November 2019. The guidelines, as the name suggests, are a guide to the current case law and practise of the EPO and are not legally binding (see IPKat herefor a full discussion of legal precedent at the EPO and the role of the guidelines). The 2019 update to the guidelines incorporates some of the significant developments in the established case law of the Boards of Appeal. One key change to the guidelines this year is an update to the assessment of novelty of selection inventions. Other updates include clarification of the definition of “substance or composition” and a new section on the criteria of reasonable expectation in an assessment of obviousness for biotechnology inventions.

[...]

The patentability of software is another hot topic at the moment, and subject to its own referral to the EBA (IPKat: The patentability of computer simulated methods – another referral to the Enlarged Board of Appeal). The 2019 guidelines include some updates to the section relating the patentability of artificial intelligence and machine learning. In particular, the guidelines now clarify that “[t]erms such as ‘support vector machine’, ‘reasoning engine’ or ‘neural network’ may, depending on the context, merely refer to abstract models or algorithms and thus do not, on their own, necessarily imply the use of a technical means. This has to be taken into account when examining whether the claimed subject-matter has a technical character as a whole (Art. 52(1), (2) and (3))”.

But EPO created loopholes for these words and terms, e.g. buzzwords (“hey hi”) and hype (“blockchains”), not to mention vague nonsense like “technical effect”. So the EPO gets to pretend that it obeys the law while in practice breaking it with impunity. It’s being justified using pseudo-novelty and obfuscation.

Things ought to change. But will they? Who has more ‘lobbying’ power? Captured media of the litigation ‘industry’ keeps gaming the news and setting up events with stacked panels. People like Mariana Mazzucato would not be invited.

Share in other sites/networks: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Reddit
  • email
  • Slashdot

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

What Else is New


  1. Celebrating Code of Conduct Violations

    Reprinted with permission from Daniel Pocock



  2. The Militarised Elephant in the Room Still Commands a Lot of Free Software Development

    We take a difficult (albeit in-depth and perfectly factual) look at IBM's past and present; considering this is the company that controls Red Hat (which in turn controls many key projects in GNU/Linux) we need a better understanding of the real context, not PR fluff and marketing



  3. Juve Patent's Love of Patent Trolls and Their Misinformation

    The press 'gutter' known as Juve (basically propaganda disguised as 'news' since years ago) has gotten to the point where the publisher is just an extension of lawyers and liars



  4. IRC Proceedings: Friday, October 23, 2020

    IRC logs for Friday, October 23, 2020



  5. Look How Many Tux I Give!

    "Long live rms, long live (Hyperbola) GNU/BSD, and happy hacking."



  6. Embrace, Extend, and Extensions: Two New Reasons to Delete GitHub, Which Microsoft Ruined for Everyone (Except the Copyright Cartel and Other Censors)

    GitHub is being turned into a garbage dump with malicious masters (or monsters, or mobsters); many people are denied access for using the 'wrong' browser and developers/projects are being censored (not for doing anything wrong or illegal, either)



  7. [Meme] When EPO Staff Claims to be 'Ill' or 'Sick'... During a Pandemic's European Peak

    Gotta check and verify that those 'lazy' EPO examiners aren't just faking being ill (in order to not meet "production" targets)



  8. The EPO Has Relegated or Lowered Itself to Extremely Poor Standards

    Today's EPO continues to reaffirm the image of global weakness; having failed to improve the working conditions and quality of the work (its actions did the exact opposite), it's nowadays begging China to send over lots of workload irrespective of quality or merit and it is outsourcing the functions of the Office to the United States



  9. Links 23/10/2020: Turing Pi 2, GNU Parallel 20201022

    Links for the day



  10. IRC Proceedings: Thursday, October 22, 2020

    IRC logs for Thursday, October 22, 2020



  11. Links 23/10/2020: 'Groovy Gorilla' Everywhere in the News

    Links for the day



  12. For Better 'Tech Rights' in the United States (and the World at Large) the 'Orange Man' Needs to Go

    With less than a fortnight before election day we explain our stance from a purely tech-related rationale



  13. [Meme] Microsoft Never 'Brought' Skype to GNU/Linux (It Just Bought Skype) and It Never 'Brought' Edge to GNU/Linux Either (Google Did)

    Foolish media or gullible 'journalists' are giving Microsoft credit for other people's work; this isn't the first time either, but it helps perpetuate lies such as "Microsoft loves Linux" (so who cares about facts anyway?)



  14. It's Going to be a Long, Long Winter

    Today we revert back to lock-down mode; we're reflecting and pondering what comes next



  15. TechRadar is an Irresponsible Clickbait and Misinformation Site Disguised as 'News'

    TechRadar is no tech and no radar, either. It's just an opportunistic click-harvesting machine, disguised as a source of "news"; today we deal with the latest example (among many).



  16. Links 22/10/2020: LibreOffice 6.4.7, Septor 2020.5, Ubuntu 20.10 Released, FreeBSD Quarterly Status Report

    Links for the day



  17. IRC Proceedings: Wednesday, October 21, 2020

    IRC logs for Wednesday, October 21, 2020



  18. Living Humbly (With Older Technology or None) is More Compatible With Privacy- and Freedom-Respecting Technological Lifestyle

    Simplicity sometimes trumps so-called 'novelty', especially when it comes to human rights and users' freedom



  19. Reasons Why You (and Everybody Else) Should Join the Fight for Software Freedom

    Society is being closely watched and controlled (more so during/after the latest pandemic) and people must carefully consider the true importance of resisting proprietary technology (controlled remotely by state actors)



  20. Ways and Means to Reduce One's Dependency on Google's Various Monopolies and Near-Monopolies

    Getting rid of Google means a lot more than embracing DumbDumbGo (DDG) or some other sites that spy just like Google; we're taking stock of some options



  21. The European Commission is Still M.I.A. Regarding EPO Corruption (and the EPO's Management Plays Dirty, as Always)

    There's no change in the EU; the EUIPO and EPO enjoy complete and total immunity/impunity, with the Commission being manned by those who are deeply complicit



  22. 10 Reasons Why All This 'Edge for Linux' Coverage is a Total Farce

    The fake hype surrounding "Edge" is an inauthentic hype/buzz campaign made to coincide with anti-Google sentiments spread by Microsoft front/pressure groups



  23. Microsoft's IIS Has Collapsed Again This Past Month (and IIS Will Not and Cannot Survive This Way)

    Netcraft shows that Microsoft's decline further accelerates in the Web servers space; IIS is becoming financially unviable



  24. Links 21/10/2020: Alpine 3.12.1, Tor Browser 10.0.2

    Links for the day



  25. [Meme] US Department of Justice Should Have Taken on Microsoft Again, Not Google

    When lobbying, connections and political sway determine the actions of the American government it's hardly surprising that Bill Gates gets the Trump administration to fight for him (to make him even richer)



  26. [Meme] Banning Words, Gaslighting Volunteers

    What happens when institutions are themselves in violation of a CoC (institutional violation) and massive corporations that fund such institutional violations are defending demonisation of the individual (squashing ‘uncomfortable’ voices, even volunteers’)



  27. IRC Proceedings: Tuesday, October 20, 2020

    IRC logs for Tuesday, October 20, 2020



  28. Links 21/10/2020: $8000 GNU/Linux Desktop, Tails 4.12, Open Infrastructure Foundation and Firefox Release

    Links for the day



  29. Never Feed the Internet Trolls, No Matter How Tempting It Becomes

    The tactics for removing critics of abuse (by framing them as "abusive") have evolved a lot in recent years; the best course of action is to never entertain provocateurs in any way whatsoever (just ignore them, give them no attention which they crave and feed on)



  30. Bill Gates: “I'm Not a Lawyer” (He Dropped Out of College, Where He Studied Law Before and After Breaking the Law Chronically)

    How Microsoft blackmailed other companies into supporting nothing but Microsoft and Windows; Bill Gates repeatedly lied to the interrogators about it, then said "I'm not a lawyer" (IANAL) even though he went to college to become one, just like his father who died last month


RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

Recent Posts