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10.01.17

Battistelli’s Club Med at the EPO – Part V: Portugal’s “Golden Visa” Scheme for Angolan Nationals

Posted in Africa, Europe, Patents at 6:35 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Money

Summary: Some new revelations about Portugal’s “Golden Visa” scheme — a subject which has been circulating in the news in recent weeks

TODAY we continue the series about the EPO, Portugal, and Angola. In part 1 we highlighted an upcoming EPO deal, in part 2 we explained how that relates to French/Portuguese EPO leadership, and in parts 3 and 4 we wrote about corruption in Angola and possibly its patent office, respectively. We remind readers that the father of the likely next EPO President was born in Angola.

Today, in part 5, we deal with something fresh from the news.


Here are some links to recent articles about Portugal’s “Golden Visa” scheme which a Portuguese MEP has described as “another very dangerous avenue to import additional corruption and criminality into the EU”.

The recent revelations expose the way in which the scheme is being used by allegedly corrupt individuals from countries with close links to Portugal including Brazil and Angola.

This article from 12 days ago says: “Euro MP Ana Gomes has been a vociferous opponent of the scheme – championed by former deputy prime minister Paulo Portas – since its inception.

“She told the BBC back in 2014 that it potentially opened the doors to “all sorts of corrupt even criminal organisations… and it might be another very dangerous avenue to import additional corruption and criminality into the EU”.”

Another article from around the same time is calling it “Portugal’s golden visas” (in the headline). Angola is mentioned as follows: “Others named in the document are relatives of the Angolan vice-president, Manuel Vicente, who until 2012 was the chief executive of the country’s state energy firm, Sonangol. Vicente, once tipped to be the next Angolan president, this year faced allegations that he tried to bribe a Portuguese magistrate in order to suppress an investigation into corruption at Sonangol.”

We wrote a lot about Sonangol in previous parts.

“Leaked list of Golden Visa applicants released” is another detailed article about this. Here are some portions from it:

The documents focus on Latin American and Angolan nationals who have received a Golden Visa after buying a property in Portugal for €500,000 or more in exchange for permanent residency.

[...]

As for Angolan applicants, Portugal long has been used as a convenient laundry for stolen money with Angolan vice-president, Manuel Vicente, and family members receiving Golden Visas.

Vincente, who until 2012 was the chief executive of the country’s oil company, Sonangol, faces jail time after bribing a Portuguese magistrate in order to drop an investigation into his property purchases.

[...]

Other recipients of Golden Visas named in the leaked documents include:

[...]

João Manuel Inglês is an Angolan colonel and aide to Gen Manuel Helder Vieira Dias, better known as Kopelipa, head of the Angolan military and one of the most powerful figures in Angola. Inglês, who was accused in a US class action lawsuit of being a figurehead for Kopelipa and two other Angolan ruling figures, applied for a Portuguese golden visa in 2013. He did not respond to requests for comment.

Pedro Sebastião Teta, the Angolan secretary of state for IT, applied for a golden visa in 2013. The following year he was reported to own 30% of a company called Impulso Angola, which was awarded a contract by the government to map the country’s mineral resources. He did not respond to requests for comment.

Sebastião Gaspar Martins, the executive director of Sonangol’s Brazilian arm, sought a Portuguese golden visa in 2014. He has been cited as a possible successor to Vicente as vice-president. Martins declined to comment on the golden visa.

Some of these names may become more relevant to us in the future.

09.30.17

Battistelli’s Club Med at the EPO – Part IV: The Angolan Patent Office (IAPI) Seems Almost Defunct

Posted in Africa, Europe, Patents at 10:28 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Angola and the Portuguese “laundromat” explained further

IAPI domain

Summary: IAPI, the Angolan authority in charge of patents, turns out to be what we in the UK call “dodgy as Hell” (or worse words than “Hell”)

THE EPO is getting closer to Angola (see part 1) — a country which António Campinos and Benoît Battistelli are connected to (see part 2). Angola is widely known for corruption (see part 3) and today we wish to expand on that, offer some more links, and tie things together with an explanation that relates to the later/future parts (where EPO is revisited).

“From these reports it seems clear that very little moves in the Angolan economy without the clique around the Dos Santos family claiming a slice of the action.”For further information, in case the previous parts were not already read, see parts 2 and 3 in particular. In parts 6 and 7 we shall deal again with António Campinos and Benoît Battistelli. The relevance will become more obvious.


Over the last few years, Forbes has published a number of interesting reports about corruption in Angola. Several different writers in there covered it in 2013, 2014 [1, 2], and 2016. This article is a month old.

“What kind of government office uses a Microsoft Hotmail account in 2017?”From these reports it seems clear that very little moves in the Angolan economy without the clique around the Dos Santos family claiming a slice of the action. Unfortunately, there is no information available about how well (or not) the system of intellectual property protection functions in Angola.

The official website of the IAPI seems to be permanently down. To make matters worse, when we last checked the site it looked like a hijacked (squatted) .gov domain. “Thank you for visiting the Bargain Auto Finance webpa:e” [sic] is what the page says. It goes on: “Bargain Auto Finance was established because of a love for cars and a desire to give the consumer a peace of mind buying experience. Our team of fully qualified Finance and Insurance Managers will negotiate terms on your behalf giving you a secure process. Bargain Auto Finance offer a variety of financing or refinancing options.”

Sounds like one of these notorious scams. What does that do in iapi.gov.ao? It’s definitely not some very temporary mistake or accident. It has been like this for a number of days (at least, based on our checks over the past week).

“There is no website listed in the WIPO database entry for Angola,” a reader told us. That’s true. “The “Bargain Auto Finance” website seems to belong to a South African company,” the reader noted (bargainfinance.co.za), so something very dodgy is definitely going on here. “The e-mail address for the Angolan Intellectual Property Institute listed in the WIPO database entry is a hotmail.com address. Also the WIPO entry seems to be out of date because the current Director of the IAPI is Mr Dário Camati,” the reader concluded. WIPO says: “Title and name of head; Director General: Ms. Ana Paula da Costa Pereira Migel (E-mail address paulabolivar8@hotmail.com).”

“It could be interesting to find out more about how the proposed “validation agreement” with the EPO is going to operate.”What kind of government office uses a Microsoft Hotmail account in 2017? And with account name/alias paulabolivar8? “No idea what is going on here,” our reader said.

Their Facebook page seems to be completely empty. Not that a government office should be operating through Facebook either way…

It could be interesting to find out more about how the proposed “validation agreement” with the EPO is going to operate.

These “validation agreements” typically involve the payment of an initial validation fee of a few hundred Euros to the EPO. The initial fee is shared out between the EPO and the national IP Office of the validation state based on a proportion set down in the validation agreement.

“Given what is generally known about the rampant levels of corruption in Angola, it would not be surprising if foreign investors encountered a system of patent protection that was not very effective at safeguarding their rights or that some additional “financial incentives” would be required in order to get a result in their favour.”Thereafter the patent proprietor pays annual renewal fees to the national IP Office of the validation state based on the amounts laid down under national law.

Depending on the level of uptake, such a scheme could could potentially generate a handy revenue stream for the Angolan government. It would be interesting to follow the subsequent money trail and see how much of that would be likely to end up in the pockets of the ruling clique.

Another issue confronting foreign patent proprietors opting for validation in Angola would be the question of how effective the system of patent protection is and whether or not patent proprietors can actually enforce their rights, for example via the courts.

Given what is generally known about the rampant levels of corruption in Angola, it would not be surprising if foreign investors encountered a system of patent protection that was not very effective at safeguarding their rights or that some additional “financial incentives” would be required in order to get a result in their favour.

09.29.17

Battistelli’s Club Med at the EPO – Part III: Angola and the Portuguese “Laundromat”

Posted in Africa, Europe, Patents at 9:13 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Coat of arms of AngolaSummary: This part looks at allegations that the former colony Angola is exporting corruption back to Portugal

THE EPO is about to sign some more papers with Angola (see part 1), one African country which both António Campinos and Benoît Battistelli are connected to (see part 2).

Before we say more about the Angolan connection (to the EPO, Portugal and France) we wish to introduce readers to this background information.


As many people will already know, Angola is a former Portuguese colony.

“Before we say more about the Angolan connection (to the EPO, Portugal and France) we wish to introduce readers to this background information.”After it became independent in November 1975 the country was plagued by a long period of civil war which continued with some interludes until 2002. The civil war was essentially a power struggle between two former liberation movements, the People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) and the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA). The conflict served as a surrogate battleground for the Cold War and it was characterised by large-scale direct and indirect international involvement by the Soviet Union and Cuba (on the side of the MPLA) and South Africa and the United States (on the side of UNITA).

As reported by the New York Times in June 2017, a reconstruction and oil boom following the civil war presented the politically-connected with a golden opportunity for self-enrichment. In an economy driven by President José Eduardo dos Santos (of the MPLA), his inner circle of family and allies have amassed extraordinary wealth. (c/f Angola’s Corrupt Building Boom: ‘Like Opening a Window and Throwing Out Money’)

In August 2017 the political situation in Angola got some coverage in the international media due to the elections being held there.

Transparency International took advantage of the occasion to issue a statement with the headline “Elections in Angola: time to tackle corruption”.

According to Transparency International: “Corruption has for too long enriched a small ruling elite while more than two thirds of the country’s population live in poverty. Angola is the archetype of a captured state. It scores only 18 and ranks 164 out of 176 on the 2016 Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index indicating rampant corruption.”

The theme of corruption in Angola was explored further by the New York Times in an article with the headline “Portugal Dominated Angola for Centuries. Now the Roles Are Reversed” which was published shortly before the August elections.

“After it became independent in November 1975 the country was plagued by a long period of civil war which continued with some interludes until 2002.”This New York Times article described how the former colony whose elite are being enriched by oil revenues is now exporting corruption back to the colonial motherland.

The article quotes Ana Gomes, a Member of the European Parliament from Portugal’s governing Socialist Party: “In Angola, they call Portugal the laundromat. It’s because it is.”

According to the New York Times: “Angola is often listed as one of the world’s most corrupt nations. And Portugal has been singled out for its laxness in reining in money laundering and bribery, particularly in its dealings with Angolans, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the research and policy organization of the world’s richest countries.”

Relations between Portugal and Angola have been strained recently by the indictment of Angola’s Vice-President, Manuel Vicente, in February 2017. Vicente is a protégé and close associate of the controversial Angolan President José Eduardo Dos Santo who has ruled the country since 1979. Vicente first came to prominence following his appointment as CEO of Sonangol, the parastatal oil and gas company which has been used by Dos Santos over the decades to further his own political and business interests and those of his family.

Reports of interest:

A statement from the Prosecutor General’s office in Lisbon said that Manuel Vicente paid a bribe of €760,000 ($810,000) to a Portuguese prosecutor who was investigating previous allegations of corruption against him. The Vice-President was accused of, among other things, laundering money by buying apartments in the “Angolans’ building” on the coast of Cascais. He has denied the allegations.

“Relations between Portugal and Angola have been strained recently by the indictment of Angola’s Vice-President…”In a separate development it was reported in July 2017 that three lawyers and four people including a former board member of the Portuguese national airline TAP had been charged with illegal activities related to an “Angolan money laundering scam” involving and Angolan company Sonair which is a subsidiary of Sonangol.

The National Airline in Portugal is accused of a corruption scheme with officials from Angolan Public Oil Company Sonangol. That was the headline of an article from this summer.

Top TAP director accused in Angola money laundering scam. That’s another report from around the same time.

The current CEO of Sonangol is Ms. Isabel Dos Santos, daughter of the President, who was appointed to this position in 2016.

In 2012, Dos Santos was ranked by Forbes as one of “the five worst leaders in Africa”.

“In a separate development it was reported in July 2017 that three lawyers and four people including a former board member of the Portuguese national airline TAP had been charged with illegal activities related to an “Angolan money laundering scam” involving and Angolan company Sonair which is a subsidiary of Sonangol.”Forbes had this to say about Dos Santos: “To his discredit, José Eduardo has always run his government like it’s his personal, privately-owned investment holding company. His cousin serves as the Angola’s vice president, and his daughter, Isabel Dos Santos is arguably the wealthiest woman in the country.”

The local media in Angola has described his presidency as “the epicentre of corruption”.

09.28.17

Battistelli’s Club Med at the EPO – Part II: António Campinos, Benoît Battistelli and the Angolan Connection

Posted in Africa, Europe, Patents at 1:56 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

UIMP Campinos

Summary: Background information about the recent trend towards “validation agreements” with non-European developing countries

A FEW hours ago the EPO retweeted this Adams & Adams tweet which says: “During its annual Africa IP Network Week, the firm co-hosted the Africa Patent Examination Summit with @EPOorg.”

“During Battistelli’s term of office the EPO has been busy concluding so-called “validation agreements” with developing countries outside of Europe.”Now is therefore a good time to continue our series (see part 1) about Battistelli’s ‘Club Med’ at the EPO.

The research team has been exploring some possible connections which were suggested by the EPO’s recent “validation agreements” with developing countries such as Angola (but not limited to it). The following text is focused on the EPO validation agreement with Angola, whose background will probably be explained in future posts (beyond this series).


During Battistelli’s term of office the EPO has been busy concluding so-called “validation agreements” with developing countries outside of Europe. The “patent industry” has praised these efforts as an example of “thinking outside the confines of the continental map” and has touted them as “a game changer for European patent applicants”.

“By a strange coincidence most of the validation agreements so far have been with former French colonies or protectorates such as Morocco, Tunisia, Cambodia and Laos.”The stated objectives of these agreements are to enhance the technical capacities of national patent offices and improve their ability to raise patent awareness among national innovators.

By a strange coincidence most of the validation agreements so far have been with former French colonies or protectorates such as Morocco, Tunisia, Cambodia and Laos.

More recently it has been noticed that Battistelli appears to be intent on expanding the scope of his global mission.

“Shortly afterwards, Mr. Camati travelled to Lisbon where he paid a visit to the Portuguese National Intellectual Property (INPI) and was received by the INPI Director-General, Mrs. Leonor Trindade, who is reputed to be a loyal supporter of Battestelli on the EPO’s Administrative Council.”In May 2017 a bilateral co-operation agreement was signed with Angola (epo.org link) when the Director-General of the Institute of Industrial Property of Angola (IAPI), Mr Dário Camati, visited the EPO headquarters in Munich.

Shortly afterwards, Mr. Camati travelled to Lisbon where he paid a visit to the Portuguese National Intellectual Property (INPI) and was received by the INPI Director-General, Mrs. Leonor Trindade, who is reputed to be a loyal supporter of Battestelli on the EPO’s Administrative Council.

Further research into these matters and into Angolan-Portuguese connections and domestic Portuguese politics has led to a number of interesting insights. Part III will be published soon.

09.24.17

Battistelli’s Club Med at the EPO – Part I: EPO Validation Agreement With Angola

Posted in Africa, Europe, Patents at 10:23 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

From Friday:

Angola EPO

Summary: A series contemplating Benoît Battistelli’s sudden interest in Angola, a country with no European Patents but plenty of connections to António Campinos

TODAY, on a Sunday, we begin a long new series about the EPO. The timing seems perfect.

The minutes of the June 2017 meeting of the EPO Administrative Council confirm that Battistelli has been authorised to open negotiations on a validation agreement with Angola (dated Friday). It’s the favourite day for the EPO to dump some words (e.g. in the intranet) or formal documents it prefers not to get noticed. There are already internal jokes about those Friday ‘spills’… always check what’s being buried and where/why.

“There are already internal jokes about those Friday ‘spills’… always check what’s being buried and where/why.”The EPO’s new relationship with Angola is rather predictable; we wrote about the photo-ops before. Why Angola? It is not, after all, a former French colony. An HTML version of the validation agreement concluded with Tunisia in 2012 is now available for future comparisons. Remember that Angola is a former colony of Portugal and António Campinos is set up (or groomed) to become Battistelli’s successor, as we noted yesterday. Campinos is a dual French/Portugese national and his father, Joaquim Jorge de Pinho Campinos, was born in Lobito (Angola).

Does Angola really matter for the EPO? The numbers (of lack thereof) speak for themselves:

Angola EPO, no patents

It’s not hard to see why it’s tempting to suspect a political aspect to all of this. Prepare for some rather embarrassing things (for António Campinos and Benoît Battistelli) to be shown over the coming weeks.

06.11.17

No More Battistelli Photo Ops With Michelle Lee as EPO Allies Run Out, Countries Without European Patents Pursued Instead

Posted in Africa, Europe, Patents at 3:21 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

EPO in Angola

Summary: Desperate for some sense of legitimacy, Battistelli travels far and obtains ‘trophies’ from countries that are irrelevant to the EPO while his few remaining allies quit their jobs

THE EPO is running out of allies. It’s running out of allies pretty fast as it’s widely recognised that it’s run by a bunch of crooks. No person in this field has overlooked all the negative media coverage. Nobody. People have noticed just how few high-level officials even pose for photos with Benoît Battistelli these days. It’s not a coincidence. The same is true (to some degree) about the US President…

“People have noticed just how few high-level officials even pose for photos with Benoît Battistelli these days.”Battistelli’s allies mostly come from countries that are notorious for human rights violations, e.g. China the other day (promoted in Twitter via this and that). In some ways, the EPO is becoming SIPO and is mimicking Chinese (infamously low) standards for patenting. This isn’t what Europe needs; it’s what Europe needs to compete with.

More interesting, however, was this tweet from the USPTO (June 1st), headed at the time by a Director of Chinese descent. Mr. Klutz, the clown who facilitates the authoritarian regime of Battistelli, is in there (in the photos) and the USPTO wrote: “Commemorating 10 years of cooperation, @EPOorg, @JPO_JPN, @KIPOworld_en, SIPO, and #USPTO sign the IP5 Joint Statement today, June 1.”

“In some ways, the EPO is becoming SIPO and is mimicking Chinese (infamously low) standards for patenting.”Well, here we can see Michelle Lee touching Battistelli’s hands. It will be the last time. Here is the corresponding puff piece from the EPO (warning: epo.org link) and Battistelli’s immature brag in his ‘blog’. (warning: epo.org link)

What he probably did not know at the time is that Lee was about to leave. Days later she did. Abruptly even.

“We shall see if the Trump administration puts an utterly corrupt man like Rader in charge of the USPTO.”We first found out about it when a reader mailed us USPTO director Michelle Lee has resigned without warning. It correctly noted (as we did at the time) that “[i]n April, more than 50 companies, including Facebook and Cisco, sent a letter to President Trump asking him to keep Lee on board, believing the office would apply stricter standards to technology and software patents under her leadership.”

It didn’t take long for this news to spread [1, 2] through the mainstream media and many cited the above report (the first we saw). “According to Arstechnica.com,” one site said a few days ago, “major technology companies asked President Trump to keep Michelle Lee on board, believing the former Google executive would applying stricter standards to technology and software patents under her leadership.”

“As the number of applications from the US declines (the EPO tried to hide it) we can expect the EPO to become more like China and appeal to the Chinese, not the Americans.”Indeed, this departure wasn’t expected. The media makes it seem as though it was her decision to step down, albeit she was possibly pushed out. We shall see if the Trump administration puts an utterly corrupt man like Rader in charge of the USPTO. The USPTO had a good leader, but she is moving on. It’s the EPO that should oust/drive out the head, not the USPTO. We believe, based on our heavy coverage on the matter (over a dozen articles about it), that Lee was pushed out by thugs who started a witch-hunt against her. MIP says that “USPTO associate solicitor Joseph Matal has taken over her duties” and Lee’s foes (and supporters of the corrupt Rader as her successor) say “an acting successor has not been named. However, Commissioner for Patents Drew Hirshfeld was being touted by some DC observers as the likely choice, given that current deputy Director Anthony Scardino doesn’t have a background in IP.”

So… not Rader. What a relief.

These foes of Lee also said: “The battle to succeed Lee will be unlike anything we’ve seen before at the USPTO. The stakes are very high. [] The USPTO director can change rules relating to PTAB & rework examination guidelines. BigTech will be desperate to ensure neither happens.”

The LA Times covered it as follows:

America’s top patent and trademark official has abruptly resigned from her post.

Michelle Lee, who has been director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for more than two years, submitted a letter of resignation Tuesday afternoon.

“I am confident that the leadership team in place will serve you well during this transition,” Lee wrote in an agency-wide memo to staff.

How does that matter to the EPO? Simple. As the number of applications from the US declines (the EPO tried to hide it) we can expect the EPO to become more like China and appeal to the Chinese, not the Americans. The EPO is stretching and leaning to the bottom.

“Angola received not a even a single European Patent last year, but Benoît Battistelli and Klutz do a business trip to Angola.”Benoît Battistelli, for example, goes to a photo ops expedition in Angola. Yes, that’s right. Angola! Which Battistelli's old 'boss', Nicolas Sarkozy, also strategically visited. All one needs to know is that Angola is totally irrelevant to the EPO (no patents granted) and this EPO puff piece (warning: epo.org link) about the visit demonstrates nothing but a waste of money on Battistelli and his bodyguards (Klutz is there too). When will Benoît Battistelli and his right-hand man Klutz go to Zimbabwe for ‘recognition’ from Mugabe? He too enjoys an above-the-law status. Maybe they can share some experiences about how to crush people…

Angola received not a even a single European Patent last year, but Benoît Battistelli and Klutz do a business trip to Angola. That says a lot, does it not? Might as well be a trip for leisure, disguised as “for business”… there are safaris in Angola.

The irony should not be missed. In relation to the two terror attacks in England, Battistelli has of course not missed the opportunity for political exploitation. Here is the exploitation of Manchester and the exploitation of London (warning: two epo.org links). Again, in relation to terror, the EPO says it “believes in an open and inclusive society based on the fundamental principles of freedom, equality and justice.”

“They, Team Battistelli, are once again milking tragedy (with many human victims) to disseminate patently false characterisations of themselves.”Liars.

It takes quite some nerve to say that. They also said: “As an international organisation, we believe in an open and inclusive society based on the fundamental principles of freedom, equality, justice and tolerance. Such attacks will never be able to destroy these principles.”

That makes just about as much sense as Mugabe saying it. It’s beyond laughable. It is deeply offensive. They, Team Battistelli, are once again milking tragedy (with many human victims) to disseminate patently false characterisations of themselves.

03.04.17

Using “China!” and Distortion of Data From Lex Machina, the Litigation Lobby Promotes Software Patents

Posted in Africa, Asia, Deception, Patents at 11:45 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“The Chinese Are Coming!” (British Empire’s national broadcaster on the weak — and obviously hypocritical — narrative of Chinese ‘imperialism’)

The Chinese Are Coming

Summary: Patents on algorithms are promoted in all sorts of misleading (but familiar) ways, which include bias by omission (cherry-picking), fake economics, distortion of statistics, and possibly xenophobia too (fear of China)

China seems to have become almost a role model or a poster child to Battistelli’s EPO (it wants applications from China at the expense of anything). Quality of patents does not matter to them. Public interests or service don’t matter either, just the profit of some tiny niche of people who make a living out of patents alone. Patent maximalists in the US, likewise, regularly use "China!" as their argument for patent maximalism (Watchtoll, IAM, David Kappos and IBM can’t stop talking about “China!”). It’s troubling because it’s incredibly dishonest and what they are doing is clearly destructive to their nations (not that they are patriots, they are just greedy and self-serving).

Their argument in a nutshell is, if we don’t allow algorithms be to patented, China will “win” — a loose term for simple-minded and careless people like Donald Trump (there are many reports like “Donald Trump stokes foreign policy fears in China”).

“It’s troubling because it’s incredibly dishonest and what they are doing is clearly destructive to their nations (not that they are patriots, they are just greedy and self-serving).”“Good to see that SIPO aligns with the EPO’s “any hardware approach” when it comes to patent-eligibility,” said Bastian Best (very vocal proponent of software patents but not a software developer) the other day. That’s the same man who had also linked to Steve Lundberg’s “patents4software” blog (non-developer speaking ‘on behalf’ of developers [1, 2]). Lundberg says “Kudos to China on Software Patents,” alluding to news which we covered in [1, 2]. They are trying to argue that just because China permits software patenting so should the US, which scales back if not eliminates them.

Jack Ellis, another lobbyist like Lundberg (they are disguised as professionals, but all they do is lobby), has just published this post titled “China relaxes rules on software patentability – and the United States loses more ground”.

Front groups like IAM are using shame tactics against the USPTO. It’s part of that push which we have been writing quite a lot about recently. They also do this in India quite frequently (at least twice in the past week alone).

“Front groups like IAM are using shame tactics against the USPTO.”Ellis says “United States loses more ground,” as if it’s a bad thing to control quality. Ar they really losing by improving their system? IAM’s lobbyists just can’t help but show what they really are. It’s not a news site and it’s just as biased as Techrights, except we in Techrights are not funded by anyone and certainly not selling influence under the guise of ‘journalism’.

Watchtroll was of course all over this too, pushing for software patents under the headline “China relaxing barriers to software, business method patents with revised patent guidelines,” which added business methods to it.

IAM didn’t stop there. The lobbying, which characteristically came out just before the weekend started, intensified even further with gross misinterpretation of data from a group antagonistic towards patent trolls, Lex Machina. See this IAM post titled “Software patents fight back in the US as Federal Circuit decisions begin to influence lower courts” and examine it closely enough. This is mostly fiction from the think tank known as IAM, which misinterprets data for the sake of promoting software patents, as usual.

“IAM is lying/distorting things again, but that’s just its business model.”The core of their argument is CAFC, where it says: “The fall in 101 invalidations at the end of 2016, though, may indicate that a series of decisions last summer by the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) including Enfish, Bascom and McRo is beginning to have an effect.”

There were far fewer patent lawsuits in 2016, and fewer people bothered even bringing software patent to courts (after Alice, for obvious reasons). IAM is lying/distorting things again, but that’s just its business model. That’s what many firms are paying it for. It’s their propaganda mill, it’s tasked with perception management, e.g. softening the image of patent trolls.

Writing about the same data as above — albeit without the lobbying (or pseudo-activist) slant — Law 360 said that Lex Machina “tallied the number of patents that courts have invalidated under Alice.” To quote the opening paragraph (most of it is behind paywall anyway):

The national law firms that handled the most patent cases in 2016 includes several big names that were also among the busiest in 2015, according to a new report by Lex Machina, which also tallied the number of patents that courts have invalidated under Alice.

We have repeatedly made the (hopefully compelling) argument that many software patents are now de facto invalid and their holders no longer even bother suing, as they can see the high (and growing) likelihood that legal action would officially turn their patents to dust, leaving these holders with nothing but legal bills. IAM’s conclusion, as put in the headline (to make it into news aggregators) is highly misleading, but that’s what their subscribers pay for. They deposit a small proportion of their income and withdraw influence and warped public perceptions. Some of the misguided clients might be lured into lawsuits that would be lost; only the lawyers would profit.

“We have repeatedly made the (hopefully compelling) argument that many software patents are now de facto invalid and their holders no longer even bother suing, as they can see the high (and growing) likelihood that legal action would officially turn their patents to dust, leaving these holders with nothing but legal bills.”Looking closely at what CAFC has been doing, in 2016 it agreed with PTAB invalidations almost 80% of the time and the same trend continues this year, based on figures that we recently shared here. Law films keep cherry-picking CAFC cases (even old ones, as IAM did above) in order to make it seem as though software patents still have ‘teeth’. Published in a few domains of patent lawyers and other lawyers [1, 2], one such law firm explained “Federal Circuit Rules Software Patent for a User Interface is Patentable Subject Matter,” but if one looks at all the other CAFC cases, then it’s abundantly clear to see that they are just cherry-picking cases and nitpicking reality. Later on we will write about some new cases where software patents are invalided en masse — not something that IAM would touch even with a 5-foot bargepole (bias by omission).

11.20.16

Patent Maximalists Would Have Us Believe That Patent Trolls Are Beneficial and Admirable

Posted in Africa, Asia, Deception, Europe, Patents at 11:28 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Winning by knocking others over?

Bowling

Summary: Assessment of patent systems based on litigation (or “enforcement”) still a misguided yardstick but a glorified theme in the news sites controlled by (and for) the patent ‘industry’

“BEWARE,” AntiSoftwarePat[ents] wrote the other day, “Patent Trolls pretending to be ‘Inventors’ https://www.cta.tech/Policy/Issues/Patent-Reform/Urge-Congress-to-Support-Patent-Reform.aspx … #FixPatents because #PatentsMatter pic.twitter.com/qcdWnTA8v0″

The death of software patents may be already upon us, but now we need to ensure that these patents don’t cross the Atlantic and spawn new patent trolls in Europe. They have already crossed the Pacific and are growingly an issue (even an epidemic) in east Asia. We wrote more about this over the weekend and last weekend; in fact, this has been a recurring theme* here since about 2 months ago. It seems like a runaway issue as while it’s gradually dying out in the US the same symptoms can not been seen elsewhere and the EPO under Battistelli implements or emulates some of the worst aspects of the USPTO, including software patents in Europe.

Managing IP (MIP), in the face of strides against software patents in the US, sets up an event that seems to be promoting a case that helps patent trolls (Halo). To quote this new post about a so-called ‘webinar’ (usually dialogue/monologue with some programme): “Federal Circuit and district court rulings interpreting the Supreme Court’s Halo opinion on enhanced damages were analysed in a webinar presented by Managing IP and Fitzpatrick” (we can envision the content based on the presenters**).

These “enhanced damages” would be mostly applicable to patent trolls (or serial patent tax collectors) and this decision will, without a doubt, embolden some of them to make them more demanding/aggressive in courts. They can broaden the number of victims and the ‘protection money’ extracted from each.

On to a similar topic, Florian Müller revisits FRAND — a subject he used to habitually cover back in his Android-hostile days. This time it’s about automotive companies, namely Daimler and Hyundai. To quote:

About four to five years ago, there was a time when “FRAND Patents” would have been a more suitable name for this blog than “FOSS Patents”: the pursuit of sales and important bans over standard-essential patents (in violation of pledges to license them to all comers on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms), royalty demands far out of the FRAND ballpark and exorbitant damages claims were the three most important symptoms of a huge underlying problem, and I did what I could to shed some light on what was going on and going wrong.

While I’m glad that some of the worst potential consequences were avoided at the time, I have realized that there is some unfinished business in that area. Antitrust settlements and court decisions were helpful. Some of them, such as Judge Posner’s 2012 Apple v. Motorola ruling, were really great. But attempts to abuse FRAND-pledged SEPs are still rampant. Various SEP owners are still seeking injunctions (not in all jurisdictions but definitely in some). Royalty demands and damages claims still appear to be out of line in too many cases.

These patents are problematic for many reasons, especially for Free/Open Source software. To see automotive companies joining this wave is troubling to say the least and now that automotive companies are also patenting the act of driving cars we find this new article which speaks of “Patents Driving Autonomous Car Technology”. To quote a portion: “Autonomous cars is a new Technological leap in the field of transportation. Imagine millions of cars, heavy duty vehicles, ships etc. being driven without drivers which will save a lot of human labor. Also, if such technology makes commuting safe and makes you reach your destination in time with 100% safety, it will save many innocent lives which are lost every year due to human carelessness or negligence while driving.”

There are already some patent trolls in this area, if not the dashboard level (e.g. navigation) then AI.

We continue to worry about patent trolls, about FRAND (or RAND, or SEPs) and of course about software patents, but at the core of these issues we have patent maximalism, or the belief that the more patents exist and are actively enforced against most entities, the better off society will be. See this new article (behind paywall) from IP Watch to witness a symptom of this disease. Called the “Online [Patent] Enforcement Index,” what we have here is “Konstantinos Alexiou [who] created the Index Of Patent Systems Strength, which ranks the effectiveness and efficiency of the patent systems of 49 countries.”

Are people serious about this? Is this what it boils down to? Ranking countries based on patent activity, as if the more means merrier? Totally misguided and dangerously so!
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* Days ago IAM wrote about patent trolls which now operate in Korea, notably “Intellectual Discovery”. To quote somewhat of a background that’s appended to the article: “Intellectual Discovery, on the other hand, saw its CEO Kwang-Jun Kim quit last month amid what he claimed to be a budget crisis at the SPF. Quoted in a feature in the most recent issue of IAM, Kim suggested that Intellectual Discovery would become a fully privately held entity, and that hook-ups with other patent monetisation companies may well be on the cards. “Going private means we would have a little more freedom – we would be able to broaden our horizons, perhaps working with non-Korean operating companies and partnering with other NPEs, if those scenarios are consistent with our strategy and goals,” he told me. The DSS transaction seems to fit this picture pretty well; but it is likely to be one of the last deals to have been done largely on Kim’s watch. Whether the person who steps into his shoes continues along this course remains to be seen.”

** MIP is very pro-plaintiff, as one might expect the messenger of patent law firms to be. Here is its new article about how “Philips and Masimo have ended their long-running dispute over blood oxygen measurement patents” and here is an update from the Eastern District of Texas, where “Medtronic has been ordered to pay $20.4m in damages by an Eastern District of Texas jury for infringing a doctor’s patents related to idiopathic scoliosis treatment” (guess who pockets a lot of this money other than the plaintiff).

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