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11.14.19

The EPO’s Low Patent Quality is Not Just Suicidal; It is Illegal

Posted in Europe, Patents at 11:23 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The attack on judges is also illegal

We increased production by 80%. You increased production? You mean you destroyed patent validity.

Summary: With help from the besieged Boards of Appeal (BoAs), which complain that they can no longer judge cases (appeals/referrals) autonomously and independently, the Office in Munich continues to grossly violate the EPC and mimic China’s ridiculously low patent bar, which even formally permits patents on algorithms

LAWLESSNESS is the norm in EPOnia. We’re expected to think that it’s OK for the EPO to violate the law every day. We’re also expected to think we’re so much better than China when it comes to tackling corruption, accountability and so on. The EPO has caused some of these myths to shatter, leaving some of us growingly disillusioned. What is the EPO trying to become? What is its role model?

Well, look no further than this latest EPO announcement. (warning: epo.org link) (promoted via Twitter as well)

“We’re also expected to think we’re so much better than China when it comes to tackling corruption, accountability and so on.”The EPO nowadays gets close to the patent printing machine that is CNIPA (formerly SIPO) — the patent office where quality is a joke nowadays! Is Europe as well going down the route of assessing millions of applications per year? Yes, millions….

There aren’t millions of inventions per year and those that exist rarely merit a patent. But does today’s EPO understand this simple fact? Does it care? Perhaps like WIPO it won’t sleep peacefully until there are millions of patent applications per day. Yes!! Innovation!!!

“This is typical ‘Battistelli operandi’.”“At their annual meeting in Suzhou today,” EPO wrote, “EPO President António Campinos and the Commissioner of the China National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA), Shen Changyu, agreed to enhance their bilateral co-operation in the framework of the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT). The aim is to give patent applicants filing an international patent application in English at the CNIPA as Receiving Office the choice to opt for the EPO as their International Searching Authority (ISA).”

Yes, there are photo ops as usual. This is typical ‘Battistelli operandi’.

It didn’t take longer than a day for World Intellectual Property Review (WIPR) to remind us that it’s not a news site but a propaganda outlet of the EPO and other litigation lunatics. They used to have one or two good writers (who covered EPO corruption), but not anymore. Nowadays they’re copy-pasting from the EPO, almost as though the EPO sends over ‘prepared’ articles for so-called ‘editors’ to just mildly edit. It’s no secret that the PR department of the EPO is corrupt; they have ‘back channels’ at WIPR, so they actively intervene in the editorial work. The problem isn’t limited to EPOnia by the way. Earlier this week News Corp. promoted the lie that patents and ideas are the same thing; the author ‘measured’ the wrong thing, as usual (when the media is owned by billionaires it looks this bad). The EPO was also mentioned:

The number of domestic patents issued to British companies and entrepreneurs declined by 8 per cent last year, the biggest dip in five years, as Japan, China and the United States forged ahead in the global innovation race.

The 3,001 patents granted to British inventors by the UK’s intellectual property office in 2018 represents the most significant year-on-year decline since 2013, when there was a 17 per cent fall.

So what? Maybe they just don’t bother applying. Maybe they realise that many granted patents aren’t worth anything; the EPO too saw a decline in the number of patent applications and it’s trying to fake ‘demand’ by lowering the bar. Does this bother large law firms? Of course not, it’s a temporary boon for them.

Earlier this week we saw Sanam Habib and Maeve O’Flynn (Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner, LLP) celebrating the EPO lowering the patent bar to grant illegal software patents (in violation of the EPC) under the guise of “AI”, alongside “mathematical methods” (because all of these things are just maths).

In Mondaq they published:

Mathematical methods, artificial intelligence and machine learning

Guidelines: G-II 3.3 and G-II 3.3.1

Last year, to be in line with the ever growing area of artificial intelligence (AI), the Guidelines added a brand new section for AI. This year the EPO has updated the section relating to patentability of AI and machine learning, and mathematical methods to clarify that “term 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))”.

Classifying text documents solely in respect of their textual content is not regarded as per se a technical purpose, but a linguistic one. Care needs to be taken in the presentation of the technical purpose of semantic AI systems.

So for two weeks now examiners at the EPO have been put under pressure — formalised in words — to grant software patents that call themselves “AI”. The EPO has just tweeted: “Artificial Intelligence presents the patent system with a number of challenges & opportunities. Find out more about them here…”

“Surely these people know that the Boards of Appeal (all of them) lack independence, but large firms like Finnegan and Kilburn & Strode couldn’t care any less about the law; all they measure is money, just like EPO management. They’re even breaking the law to accomplish this.”“You exploit this buzzword to grant illegal software patents courts would toss out,” I responded. And people generally agree with me on this. Even examiners! Are they being reduced to buzzword interpreters?

Here’s a new comment by “Quality, what do you expect”, who says that if “it is thus to make money by granting useless patents, I think this is a distortion of what the granting procedure should be.”

The full comment:

I have to disagree as betting that no opposition will come is a mind set up which I cannot consider wise or as an example of good practice.

If it is thus to make money by granting useless patents, I think this is a distortion of what the granting procedure should be.

It is difficult to believe that all applications looked at by an examiner end up with a grant. If it is to close both eyes in order to achieve a given production target, I might show some understanding in view of the present situation at the EPO, but I cannot consider this a being correct.

The problem of patent scope isn’t limited to software. We’ve long complained about patents being granted on nature and life too (it’s like Alice and Mayo at SCOTUS).

Kilburn & Strode LLP’s Jamie Atkins has just promoted in third party sites his new article about the EPO wasting time by dealing with patents that are obviously invalid and fake, even illegal. By sending the case to a tribunal the Office terrorises in violation of the EPC!

The Board of Appeal (BoA) recently issued its preliminary comments in preparation for Oral Proceedings in, arguably, the most high profile appeal at the EPO in recent years (T 0844/18).

The only issue for the Oral Proceedings is whether the priority claim of the patent, namely EP2771468 is valid. Patent EP2771468 is one of the early foundational CRISPR cases, jointly held by the Broad Institute, MIT and Harvard. In a Decision in March 2018, the Opposition Division (OD) found that the priority claim is not valid and revoked the patent for lack of novelty. The Patentees appealed the OD Decision and the Oral Proceedings before the Board of Appeal on this critical issue are scheduled for 13-17 January 2020.

The outcome of this Oral Proceedings could significantly change the patent landscape at the EPO.

Surely these people know that the Boards of Appeal (all of them) lack independence, but large firms like Finnegan and Kilburn & Strode couldn’t care any less about the law; all they measure is money, just like EPO management. They’re even breaking the law to accomplish this.

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