Turning a blind eye to the highest court in the United States is unwise
Blind leading the blind
Summary: An update regarding the sordid state of patents on software in the US, where one has to rely on examiners and/or judges ignoring the US Supreme Court in order to have these granted/upheld
Software patents have always been the primary topic here. Longtime readers can attest to that. Thankfully, after Alice (2014), no imminent resurgence of software patents is expected, at least not in the near future. Several months ago when it was predicted that the SCOTUS (US Supreme Court) would deal with low-quality design patents of Apple we noted that no SCOTUS case was bound to reconsider the patentability of software. There wasn’t even another Bilski in the pipeline.
“Thankfully, after Alice (2014), no imminent resurgence of software patents is expected, at least not in the near future.”According to this new SCOTUS preview from Patently-O, only design patents would be questioned. Nothing would change when it comes to software patents, at least not at SCOTUS. To quote Patently-O: “When the Supreme Court’s October 2016 Term begins in a few weeks, its first patent hearing will be the design patent damages case of Samsung v. Apple. In Samsung, the Court asks: Where a design patent is applied to only a component of a product, should an award of infringer’s profits be limited to those profits attributable to the component? The statute at issue – 35 U.S.C. § 289 – indicates that, someone who (without license) “applies” the patented design (or colorable imitation thereof) to an article of manufacture, “shall be liable to the owner to the extent of his total profit.” Up to now, courts have repeatedly held that the “profits” are profits associated with the product (i.e., the article of manufacture) being sold, but Samsung is asking that the profits be limited only to components of the product closely associated with the patented design. Although Apple’s position is supported by both the text and history and is the approach easiest to calculate, I expect that many on the Court will be drawn to the potential unjust outcomes of that approach. Apple wins in a 4-4 split. Oral arguments are set for October 11, 2016.”
We previously explained why design patents are similar if not overlapping software patents (the user interface angle in particular). We therefore hope that Apple will lose this case — a case which we wrote about nearly half a dozen times so far this year.
“When it comes to software patents, empirical evidence typically shows that their existence harms innovation and causes more harm than good.”“Professors Feldman and Lemley are well-known for their skepticism about the current form of the patent system,” wrote Neil Wilkof yesterday in IP Kat. It’s not a bad post and here is what it says about the seminal/cited paper: “The authors make a basic distinction between ex ante and ex post with respect to technology transfer and licensing. A significant amount of meaningful technology transfer is “ex ante”, namely it takes place before the patent issues, and sometimes even before it is filed. To the contrary, licensing demands and litigation leading to payment for freedom to operate, occurs “ex post”, after the patent is issued, sometimes long after grant. Even in the life sciences field, where one might expect more evidence that technology transfer would be taking place, the authors found that the “modal license” was primarily for payment for freedom to operate rather than technological transfer of the underlying technology.”
When it comes to software patents, empirical evidence typically shows that their existence harms innovation and causes more harm than good. “Despite Alice,” Benjamin Henrion wrote yesterday, “specialized patents courts keeps issuing software patents in the US” (known issue), but as long as the Supreme Court repudiates such nonsense we’re probably OK in the long run. Upon appeals, e.g. to CAFC (a bit pricey), software patents almost always die. Lower courts need to heed the warning and stop ignoring policies imposed (or handed down) from above.
“Suffice to say, “open source software” as the above names it (Free/libre software) is not compatible with software patents.”Dropbox, according to this page, has “4 new DROPBOX patent applications,” to quote Fresh Patents. They are pursuing software patents (the titles suggest so) on all sorts of basic Web operations. Will USPTO examiners be negligent enough to grant in spite of prior art and Alice? We shall see. One sure thing is, the courts (the higher, the better) won’t tolerate these.
We recently wrote about Blockstream making a patent pledge despite having no patents. This new report suggests that Blockchain technology faces patent-related problems. To quote IP Watch: “Blockchains, such as the well-known bitcoin, are not yet well-defined but are creating a lot of hype, speakers at a 23 August Intellectual Property Owners’ Association webinar said. Two things are clear so far, they said: the technology is in its infancy, and there are lots of unresolved questions about what is patentable and how IP laws intersect with the mostly open source software used in the systems.”
“If the Supreme Court was to be respected rather than ignored for convenience (or maximisation of profit), there would no longer be trials over software patents, let alone new grants of software patents.”Suffice to say, “open source software” as the above names it (Free/libre software) is not compatible with software patents. Neither are APIs (lesser form of “open source”), yet according to this new patent survey, there are more than 23,414 API patents. To quote D-Zone: “After looking through the 23,414 API related patents from between 2005 and present day from 4,283 companies, it is clear that the API patent game will be all about which companies decide to litigate using their “intellectual property.” There is definitely a lot of education that could occur across all industries where these patents will be put to work, and hopefully we can see some reforms at the USPTO regarding how important it is to the economy that the APIs themselves to remain open and reusable, but I think that ultimately the world of API patents will be hammered out in courts across the United States, and other countries around the world.”
Oracle now claims copyrights on APIs, in a case which involves a mixture of software patents and copyrights inherited from Sun upon acquisition. We hope that readers are able to see just how profound an impact all these efforts to apply ‘IP’ to code can have. When can developers go back to coding in peace? Well, hopefully when all courts and patent examiners pay attention to Alice and apply the corresponding test. If the Supreme Court was to be respected rather than ignored for convenience (or maximisation of profit), there would no longer be trials over software patents, let alone new grants of software patents. █
Send this to a friend
Where Battistelli and his goons arrogantly refuse to obey court orders
Summary: Details about the latest developments in the union-busting campaign of Battistelli at The Hague, where Laurent Prunier and colleagues who are staff representatives face “demonstrably fabricated accusations,” according to Prunier
The disciplinary case of Laurent Prunier became more public a few months ago and we saw some details about it (both before and after). The atmosphere of sheer fear limits communication about these cases (there are threats being made to prevent/limit communications), but without any outside access to information the thugs who manage the EPO after a de facto coup can do just about anything without facing scrutiny, judgment, sometimes even backlash. That’s just what they want and to help them maintain this secrecy isn’t necessarily helpful (they eventually do whatever they please, experiences in Munich show). The significance of the attack on Prunier is that attacks on unions became apparent not just in Munich but also in The Hague (maybe Berlin too is somehow affected). Already, bearing in mind what we wrote about Mr. van der Eijk (the name indicates which country he is from) in past years, there were allegedly attacks on his independence at the boards. The latest message from AMBA says: “The present situation seems to be that the Boards of Appeal are now constituted within the BoAU, that the post of President of the Boards of Appeal is not yet occupied, that Mr van der Eijk is acting President of the Boards of Appeal, but that no power has been delegated to him. Thus, the President of the European Patent Office can be seen as exercising direct control over the Boards of Appeal.”
Feedback from Laurent Prunier, a SUEPO Secretary, was sent to us yesterday. Recipients were, as expected, colleagues from The Hague. Some of them deemed it worthwhile passing it on and after thinking about it for longer than a day I decided that portions of the message deserve to be publicly available, for Prunier’s protection (as when the public/press is aware of the situation there’s less leeway for this charade to carry on). We are aware of at least one more case which is similar to that of Prunier, culminating in a letter of dismissal. It’s often disguised as “health reasons” to hide the real motivations, such as union-busting endeavors.
Here are some selected bits (DG4 is Željko Topić, who apparently plays a big role in this attack, having done similar things in Croatia):
The Netherlands, 01-09-2016
Dear colleagues, Chers tous,
I hope this letter finds you well. This report is a little longer than usual because there have been new developments; it covers the months of June to August included. Once more UN GRAND MERCI for your solidarity, which allowed me to stay afloat [...] DG4 did not want to recognize my sick leave, in spite of valid medical certificates. They put me on unauthorized absence1 and cut 100% my remuneration as from January 2016. The Office has now changed tactics. At the end of June2, I have been suspended with immediate effect “awaiting trial” for alleged misconduct.
The letter of suspension was another punch in the stomach that left me knocked out for several days (by the way, thanks to those of you who sent me messages). As you may imagine getting back a stable health condition in such circumstances is a real Sisyphean task. Each new punch wastes the forces recovered from the previous one. But I will continue to defend my rights by all legitimate means: what is done to me may be tomorrow done to you; all this happened in the course of and because of my activities as staff/union representative. I thus sense it is my duty not to throw in the towel.
The Codex does not allow me to share the insights with you but:
• I firmly deny any wrongdoings.
• The whole is a genuine insult to anyone’s intelligence. The file against me contains so many demonstrably fabricated accusations that I have little doubt I can defend myself – or, rather I would be able to if, our internal system were not what it is currently, a kangaroo court.
The terms of the suspension
No date for the “trial” has been set, but I am “forbidden to enter any EPO premises as well as ordered not to travel away from The Hague without permission of the Office and to remain available for delivery of further correspondence and contact with the Office in (my) official address”. Basically, I am assigned to home arrest without any indication of the duration. The alleged legal basis for this restriction is Article 23 ServRegs – which does not concern suspensions. Just to illustrate the creativity of DG4 when it comes to use and misuse legal provisions to serve their ends.
1 In the meantime (on 26.07.2016), I received a letter from the Chairman of the Administrative Council concerning my Request for Review addressed to the Administrative Council (AC) on this matter. On 4th April 2016 my lawyer asked them to review my placement on unauthorized absence in spite of valid medical certificates. My lawyer asked the AC to review the matter since the President and his associates have an obvious conflict of interest, having expressed publicly and repeatedly their aversion to me. Well, Mr Kongstad informed me that since I wasn’t nominated by the AC, the AC does not see itself in charge of reviewing my RfR, and considers that the Office should deal with the RfR. My RfR will thus be examined by those who are causing my troubles, and who in fine, will take the decision on my internal appeal. So much for impartiality, conflict of interests and independence of judiciary vs. executive.
2 Also worth being noted, my suspension occurred only a few days after SUEPO filed a Kort Geding with the Court of Justice in The Hague to challenge its harassment by the Office. I can already hear VP1 muttering “pure coincidence”…
I was also ordered to hand back my EPO badge, my offices keys, laptop, mobile etc. This had to be done urgently but I was informed that my badge had been de-activated and the lock of my office had been changed in my absence (!) These orders had thus no purpose other than humiliation.
According to the Codex the suspension can last for a maximum four months (in my case this means up to end October 2016), but there too I remain prudent since the way DG4 interprets the Codex may deviate from its literal wording.
The suspension letter further states: “You shall receive your full salary; however the Office reserves its right to impose a deduction thereof under Art. 95(2) ServRegs if grounds for that arise”.
Again DG4 cannot help itself to systematically formulate the perspective of even more sanctions, always in unclear circumstances, so as to maintain a constant psycho-threat on those they target.
The consequences of the suspension
In July my “full salary” actually amounted to 1***EUR (!) only since… the EPO levied 3*** EUR as contributions for health and pension, retroactively from the date of my placement in unauthorized absence at the beginning of 2016. Another 1*** EUR for “arrears in June” was also retained (the explanations provided so far are cryptic to me). In August however my salary was finally paid in full for the first time since 01.01.2016. [redacted].
And other emergencies there will be. In March the Administrative Council adopted the resolution CA/26/16, urging the President to take concrete steps to de-escalate the social tensions. We all expected them to follow-up on this matter. They did not: in the June council, they only had time to try and fix the President’s attempts to extend his claws on DG3. Legitimate as that concern was, it is disappointing that they did not have time to tackle social issues. Given the fate of Staff and Union representatives, unjustly accused and punished [redacted]
Thus, not only your donation will have helped me to stay afloat, but if justice is done, it will also help others.
Again MANY THANKS for your support. Without you I would have faced harsh problems on the top of the “special treatment” by DG4/Mr Battistelli. This proves again that solidarity is the only way to move forward in our present work environment.
It looks as though Battistelli and his goons may be preparing to do in The Hague what they already did in Munich, having made it abundantly clear/explicit that they don’t give a damn about what Dutch courts say. How can anyone step aside at this sight of gross injustice? What has Battistelli turned the EPO into? █
Send this to a friend
And it doesn’t take the truth too well…
Summary: Discussion about the closure of patent law firms and the inability to defend software patents, which were granted in error for many years and are finally facing proper scrutiny
THE patent landscape surely came under long-overdue judgment and certainly it is changing. It’s changing quite rapidly. It is not changing in favour of patent law firms, that’s for sure; it’s actually the other way around as these firm are trying to adapt to these recent changes and learn new tricks — if any exist at all (here is Alexander P. Ott from McDermott Will & Emery trying new tricks to patent software in spite of the rules this week) — in order to pretend that everything is the same as before and ultimately convince examiners/judges likewise. As we have shown in recent months, this rarely works anymore and they have very little control over what PTAB does (appeals by the patent holder/s are rare and usually ineffective). The figures and the facts are out there, but patent lawyers actively suppress them and even attack the messengers. For few instances of this, see the example above (Breyer) and recall more recent insults. It makes patent law firms look rather mean-spirited and vindicative. They’re like a pack of hyenas now.
“The figures and the facts are out there, but patent lawyers actively suppress them and even attack the messengers.”As one might expect, uncertainty over a large proportion of patents (existing and prospective/pending) reduces confidence among patentors. They might as well not bother attempting to patent (or renew patents on) abstract things like “something on a device” or “something over the Internet” (notorious but ubiquitous types of patents). There’s plenty of prior art therein and usually no inventive step, just the ‘dressing up’ of an old idea. Judges can see that. Judge Jacob would have said “technical” = restatement of the same problem,” Benjamin Henrion wrote, suggesting that they should formally “abolish swpats and the biggest negative points disappear. Otherwise face abolitionists. Will find Pilch’s quote” (see Henrion’s tweet to that effect; Pilch is the FFII’s founder).
We sometimes hear about patent law firms struggling, but rarely do we hear about large ones (with nearly 100 staff) taking the beating. Let’s face it; reduced demand for patents would inevitably shrink the market (or meta-industry which is patent bureaucracy). Deflation is to be expected now (or soon), as growing realisation of the status quo spreads further than just to lawyers, who still try to keep their clients in the dark (longing for pre-Alice days and selectively covering new developments so as to maintain an illusion).
“They might as well not bother attempting to patent (or renew patents on) abstract things like “something on a device” or “something over the Internet” (notorious but ubiquitous types of patents).”Another patent law firm has just imploded and there was plenty of press coverage about it early in the week, e.g. [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9]. The patent bubble seems to be bursting with Alice and Mayo, so this patent law firm — like others before it — is virtually being taken over by another firm from Texas (the capital of trolls where there is still affinity for software patents). Here is the ‘damage control’ or the face-saving PR about this now-defunct patent law firm. They try to make the staff transfer look like good news. “Lipstick on a pig” comes to mind here.
One patent lawyers’ site meanwhile bemoans the departure from an era of software patents (it’s a rare exception for them to be upheld by courts or boards post-Alice).
The detailed breakdown of the post-Alice situation for software patents is preceded by the following text:
It has now been a two years since the Supreme Court rendered its now infamous Alice v. CLS Bank decision. It is safe to say that the Alice decision has had a profound impact on software patent enforcement, both at the Federal Circuit and in the Federal district courts.
Here is a summary of Federal Circuit Section 101 software eligibility decisions. As you will see, very few software patents have been upheld by the Federal Circuit in the last few years.
Breakdown of Federal Circuit 101 Cases, Post-Bilski, by Inventive Subject Matter
Here come the patent maximalists to berate PTAB, quoting something new from CAFC. “The Federal Circuit has remanded the Veritas v Veeam Software case back to the Patent Trial and Appeal Board, finding its reason for denying a motion to amend “unreasonable”,” Michael Loney writes in MIP. This is probably seen by them as an opportunity to overturn, but still, that would not count in the figures above.
CAFC‘s hostility towards software patents is especially noteworthy because it’s the fault of this court that software patents exist in the US in the first place. Suffice to say, more people now recognise the correlation between software patents and trolling. It’s also unsurprising that patent attorneys are unhappy about this new “Unpatent Manifesto”, which attempts to take things even further. The person behind it explains his point with a hypothetical analogy, stating “it wouldn’t be possible for anyone to patent the next biological change in the human body, it shouldn’t be possible for anyone to patent the next invention that will represent a great evolution of our species.”
“The “Unpatent Manifesto” might as well just be renamed the Patent Quality Manifesto.”The author is especially concerned about patent trolls, which are a symptom of no (or far too little) patent quality at the USPTO. He wrote: “The patent system is also the home of the so called “patent trolls”, or non-practising entities. Their mission is to accumulate patents with the only purpose of extorting money to those pushing for innovation. They patent already invented things, and patent or buy obvious inventions so they can later threaten companies with a lawsuit.”
The “Unpatent Manifesto” might as well just be renamed the Patent Quality Manifesto. In our view, patents themselves are not inherently the problem to tackle; the lack of quality control means that in the US, for example, there are now nearly 10 million patents (including expired ones). That’s far too much as it shows that the system long ago got detached or deviated away from its original purpose. And it’s impossible for any one person or firm to keep abreast of. There’s a huge overhead. █
Send this to a friend
Quality of patents causes markets to prosper or contrariwise perish
Giving aggressors like Microsoft sacks of patents to breed Mafia-like behaviour, not healthy competition
Summary: Revisiting the EPO’s vision of poor patent examination and the effect of discriminatory granting practices, favouring patent bullies such as Microsoft (which actively attacks Linux using low-quality and usually pure software patents)
“A skilled patent attorney working with a qualified searcher could cobble together a colorable obviousness argument against the vast majority of issued patent claims,” says a new article from Patently-O. Not to mention “abstract” criteria, prior art and so on. “Part of the difficulty for patentees,” continues the article, “stem from the the billions of prior art references available via increasingly effective search tools. Even when an invention results from a ‘flash of genius,’ patent law typically back-fills extensive knowledge for the obviousness analysis – even when that knowledge was not actually available at the time of the invention. The larger difficulty though is likely the large number of hard-to-pin-down facts such as the motivations, common sense, and level of creativity of a person having ordinary skill in the art.”
“In the case of large companies like Microsoft, mountains of patents (granted in bulk by the EPO]) can be used to compel companies to pay up without even a trial.”If the EPO replaces examiners with algorithms, things will exacerbate further and patents get granted incorrectly, leading to an ocean of frivolous lawsuits. In the case of large companies like Microsoft, mountains of patents (granted in bulk by the EPO) can be used to compel companies to pay up without even a trial. Recall the Microsoft v TomTom case. Picking on small companies is Microsoft’s thing; it doesn’t sue Google.
The above reminds us of the danger of poor patent quality as well as streamlining grants, which is what Battistelli’s EPO has in effect done for Microsoft (and evidence we showed for that led to legal threats from the EPO). They — like the USPTO — in effect facilitate patent racketeering by Microsoft.
“They — like the USPTO — in effect facilitate patent racketeering by Microsoft.”Watch this new article titled “Primetime: Microsoft’s Android Cross Patent Dealings”. That’s misleading because it's not cross-licensing, it's a patent settlement (in bundling form) and it’s essentially a patent shakedown without even a trial and without an opportunity to properly assess the quality (and thus in/validity) of patents. The article says that “to press on this advantage, Microsoft does need to sign into more cross licensing or similar patent deals with manufacturers. Given Microsoft’s patent portfolio and how useful this will be to those manufacturers wishing to break into the North American market, such as Xiaomi, we may be seeing more of these arrangements in the coming months. The alternative might be Microsoft suing any manufacturer that tries to sell devices into a patent-friendly market.”
But again, these are not cross-licensing deals, these are patent shakedowns. One might even call this extortion or racketeering, even though Microsoft is too well-connected to face court charges brought forth by the government.
It is worth noting that many of Microsoft’s patents — those which it uses to shake down Android players (OEMs) — are not even valid anymore (if properly scrutinised), but there are so many of them that it would cost a fortune to demonstrate it to the court. It’s a numbers game, quantity rather than quality. It’s cheaper to just settle and let Microsoft continue to wield software patents like a weapon, even post-Alice. PTAB cannot take a request to review hundreds of patents from just one single company because it’s already overburdened by a growing number of reviews (IPRs).
Speaking of patent aggressors, there is this new software patent from Facebook (the usual, see our Facebook wiki page). These are oftentimes surveillance patents, but this time is’s about languages, at a time of increased competition with Google. Facebook's growing stockpile of patents is a real problem (Facebook has a history of going aggressive with them) and The Next Web says that “the US patent office issued 6,789 patents. Each patent adds a little something new to the human knowledge base. As we cannot list all six thousand, the PatentYogi team has selected the five most interesting patents.” How many of these are software patents that oughtn’t have been granted? How many of these will be toothless some time in the near future?
Patently-O says “The number of pending Ex Parte appeals continue to drop. Great work PTO.” There are other statistics of interest, based on PDFs from the USPTO (like this one). Patently-O claims they suggest that: “Design patent applications expected to reach 40,000 for FY2016 – up from under 30,000 in FY2010. The PTO is working to improve design patent prosecution speed – current wait of more than a year for a first office action.”
Well, the Office may have granted 40,000 patents on designs, but once reassessed the Office may need to throw them all away, on a per-request basis (post-Apple v Samsung at SCOTUS). Granting again for the sake of granting? Until the next Alice happens?
Patent quality control is the principal pillar of true and potent patent offices, otherwise they would be just archives of untested claims (a registration/filing system). █
Send this to a friend
Rounded corners? Apple’s invention!
Summary: Apple’s insistence that designs should be patentable could prove to be collectively expensive, as patent trolls would then use a possible SCOTUS nod to launch litigation campaigns
TROLLS, or patent sharks, typically use software patents, but what if they also had design patents at their disposal?
Apple‘s war on Android, which manifested itself in a now-settled case against HTC and later in a long patent war against Samsung, may prove to be counterproductive now that Apple attracts patent trolls like VirnetX, to which it might be forced to pay billions of dollars. A pro-software patents site now says that “Apple will also be an even richer target for the new breed of design patent trolls” if it wins its case against Samsung/Android (over design patents). To quote this new article:
On October 11, 2016, the Supreme Court will hear Samsung’s appeal of the Federal Circuit’s affirmation of the jury’s damage award to Apple of Samsung’s “total profits” on sales of the infringing smartphones even though it had only infringed Apple’s design of the iPhone’s outer shell. In upholding the “total profits” award, the Federal Circuit determined that it was bound to uphold the jury’s award by the “explicit” and “clear” statutory language relating to design patent infringement damages.
The importance of the Supreme Court’s ultimate ruling here is underscored by the numerous amicus curiae briefs filed (27 at last count). With over 205 billion in cash reserves at last count, Apple certainly doesn’t “need” the full nine-figure damage award. And, given the far reaching implications of this case, Apple may live to regret its aggressive pursuit of “total profits” for design patent infringement by finding itself battling design patent holders seeking to recover Apple’s total device profits for infringement of even a minor design feature. Apple will also be an even richer target for the new breed of design patent trolls already surfacing based, at least in part, on Apple’s success in this case. Clearly it is time for Congress to step in and amend Section 289 to add apportionment language.
No wonder technology companies are overwhelmingly supportive of Samsung in this case — a high-profile case over design patents.
In other news, Vera Ranieri from the EFF has this new update about one of their high-profile cases against patent trolls. Ranieri writes:
There has been significant activity relating to cases and patent infringement claims made by Shipping & Transit, LLC, formerly known as ArrivalStar. Shipping & Transit, who we’ve written about on numerous occasions, is currently one of the most prolific patent trolls in the country. Lex Machina data indicates that, since January 1, 2016, Shipping & Transit has been named in almost 100 cases. This post provides an update on some of the most important developments in these cases.
In many Shipping & Transit cases, Shipping & Transit has alleged that retailers allowing their customers to track packages sent by USPS infringe various claims of patents owned by Shipping & Transit, despite previously suing (and settling with) USPS. EFF represents a company that Shipping & Transit accused of infringing four patents.
The above is a timely and good example. It demonstrates not just of the harms of patent trolls but also the harms of software patents, which in the large majority of cases rely on them. If Apple made design patents stronger, with affirmation from the Supreme Court (SCOTUS), the damage would be enormous.
Apple is on the wrong side of history. █
Send this to a friend
Summary: Things are becoming ever more troublesome at the EPO as the Administrative Council enjoys inaction from the International Labour Organization (ILO), in spite of its role in destroying much-needed oversight at the behest of Battistelli
IN our only article about the EPO yesterday we mentioned the RFPSS meeting. Things are eroding if not disintegrating at the EPO and it’s taking its toll on staff while no effective oversight exists anymore. Someone in IP Kat‘s comments remarked on the contents of yesterday’s material as follows:
On the subject of pensions, there is some interesting commentary from the CSC on the latest RFPSS meeting.
“The Office thus unnecessarily lowers the probability of reaching our long-term objective for the return on investment, thereby deliberately creating a situation that could be used to trigger further major reforms.
The governance in terms of risk monitoring is still unclear through inadequate role clarity, while such governance deficiencies are recognised as often leading to under performance”.
If one were inclined to believe in conspiracies, the actions of the Office (including eliminating independent oversight of finances, and seemingly ensuring “underperformance” of the pension reserve fund) could all be interpreted as preparation for an attempt to sequester the approx. EUR7,000 million in the reserve fund.
In such a hypothetical conspiracy, the Office would “manufacture” excuses to cut / eliminate pension benefits to those who should be the beneficiaries of the RFPSS fund, only to then conduct a new study that miraculously discovers a massive surplus in that fund. The conspiracy would then conclude with the pension fund surplus being “liberated” by the Office.
Of course, this is all very far-fetched and so ought to easy to dismiss as nothing more than pure speculation. Indeed, a far more plausible explanation is that there is no plan for a cash-grab, just an attempt to deal with the pension liability issue that I have discussed before. Still, the effectively lawless behaviour of the Office in recent years (especially when it comes to matters of staff rights / benefits) does make one wonder…
Someone then responded to that as follows:
I have been entertaining similar suspicions since before Mr. Battistelli’s too office, when his immediate predecessor generously spouted expressions like “fit for the future”, “doing nothing is not an option” (in other words: TINA — but what is the problem in the first place?) and imposing the IFRS charade. I would however employ a much stronger word than “sequester”.
The questions are IMO: who would be the happy beneficiaries of that heist, how would the loot be split among them, and how would it be transferred out of the EPOrg while maintaining appearances?
As we stated yesterday, we have no accounting expertise here (not even in our IRC channels), so we need to rely on input from those who understand such matters and can interpret the financial reports of the EPO. The following remark bemoans Battistelli's political background, which basically makes him unfit (as per qualifications) for the post he has held for over half a decade. To quote:
Don’t forget that there is a French Presidential election campaign coming up in 2017.
“Primaire à droite : les Amis de Sarkozy lancent un appel aux dons”
This is why people who hold elected office for political parties should never be put in change of international organisations with large cash surpluses and no effective oversight.
Right now at the EPO there is virtually no accountability, as pointed out in another thread in relation to a subject we first covered here 2 years ago:
Perhaps we will never know. With the full knowledge and approval of the AC, one of BB’s first actions as president was to disband the only body (the Audit Committee) that could have provided transparency / independent oversight in connection with the EPO’s finances.
The ILOAT also placed its seal of approval on this dastardly act in Judgment 3698:
“The authority to establish or abolish the Audit Committee was vested in the Administrative Council alone, and these decisions did not infringe the complainant’s rights in any way, regardless of his role in the EPO.”
Judgment No. 3698 (originally in French) is dated a month ago (when many decisions came out, more than 80% of which rules against the EPO's management) and it relates to a decision we covered here last month. It’s Bernard Paye's complaint to ILO, which gave him a Pyrrhic victory many years too late. Here is the text of this decision with highlights in yellow. The complaint was made by “the principal author of the proposal to establish [the A]udit [C]ommittee,” based on the text:
Organisation internationale du Travail
International Labour Organization
the French text alone
Judgment No. 3698
THE ADMINISTRATIVE TRIBUNAL ,
Considering the complaint filed by Mr B. Y. P. against the European Patent Organisation (EPO) on 15 March 2013 and corrected on 7 May 2013, the EPO’s reply of 5 March 2015, the complainant’s rejoinder of 24 April and the EPO’s surrejoinder of 31 July 2015;
Considering Article II, paragraph 5, of the Statute of the Tribunal; Having examined the written submissions and decided not to hold oral proceedings, for which neither party has applied;
Considering that the facts of the case may be summed up as follows: The complainant challenges the abolition of the Audit Committee of the EPO’s Administrative Council.
On 30 June 2011, following a proposal by the President of the European Patent Office, the Administrative Council adopted decision CA/D 4/11 abolishing the Audit Committee, one of its subsidiary bodies, with immediate effect. On 28 September 2011 the complainant, who was then Head of Internal Audit (Principal Directorate 0.6 of the European Patent Office), and Ms H., who chaired the Staff Committee, filed an internal appeal against this decision. They complained, inter alia, that the General Advisory Committee had not been consulted prior to the adoption of the challenged decision. In November 2012 Ms H. withdrew her appeal. Having heard the complainant, the Appeals Committee of the Administrative Council unanimously recommended on 11 December 2012 that his appeal be dismissed, considering, in particular, that the challenged decision had not been taken in breach of any “applicable legal provision”. By a letter of 20 December 2012, which constitutes the impugned decision, the complainant was notified that the Administrative Council had decided to dismiss his appeal.
In his complaint filed on 15 March 2013, the complainant asks the Tribunal to quash the impugned decision as well as decision CA/D 4/11 and to order the EPO to submit the initial proposal of the President of the Office to the General Advisory Committee. He also seeks compensation in the amount of 30,000 euros for the moral injury that he considers he has suffered and an award of costs.
The EPO submits that the complaint is irreceivable, in particular on the grounds that the complainant is impugning a general decision that does not adversely affect him. In the alternative, it asks the Tribunal to dismiss the complaint as unfounded.
1. The Tribunal has jurisdiction under Article II, paragraph 5, of its Statute to hear complaints alleging “non-observance, in substance or in form, of the terms of appointment of officials and of provisions of the Staff Regulations”. In consequence, when “[t]he complainant does not allege the non-observance of any of the terms of his appointment or of any of the Staff Regulations applicable to him”, his complaint must be held to be irreceivable (see Judgment 2952, under 3).
2. The Tribunal observes that the complainant does not allege any violation of the terms of his appointment or of staff regulations that are applicable to him. His case does not relate to his administrative status but rather to the organisation of the EPO, his employer, for which he is plainly not responsible. The fact cited by the complainant that he was “the principal author of the proposal to establish [the A]udit [C]ommittee” that was subsequently abolished does not grant him any right to intervene in a decision to maintain that subsidiary body or not.
The authority to establish or abolish the Audit Committee was vested in the Administrative Council alone, and these decisions did not infringe the complainant’s rights in any way, regardless of his role in the EPO.
3. It ensues from the foregoing that the complaint, which the Tribunal is not competent to hear, is irreceivable and must be dismissed.
For the above reasons,
The complaint is dismissed.
In witness of this judgment, adopted on 28 April 2016, Mr Claude Rouiller, President of the Tribunal, Mr Patrick Frydman, Judge, and Ms Fatoumata Diakité, Judge, sign below, as do I, Dražen Petrović, Registrar.
Delivered in public in Geneva on 6 July 2016.
The above relates to our previous post about complicity of the Administrative Council, in this particular case actively removing accountability or oversight from Battistelli, which the Council appears to be in bed with.
Citing another case, we have already shown how Battistelli worked against the European Patent Convention (EPC). How Battistelli can get away with all this isn’t something we can now defer to the Founding Fathers of the EPO anymore (most of them are deceased by now). █
Send this to a friend
Summary: Self-explanatory graphs about the state of the justice [sic] system which is prejudiced towards/against EPO workers, based on internal reports
If EPO management cannot guarantee justice to its own staff, will it ever guarantee justice to patent holders (defendants and plaintiffs)?
Send this to a friend
Speaking for their wallets (profit motive), misleading the public
Like the military-industrial complex and surveillance/enforcement in the age of drug wars, patent lawyers profit from endless feuds
Summary: How patent law firms are distorting the debate about software patents in hope of attracting business from gullible people who misunderstand the harsh (and worsening) reality of software patenting
Software patents should not exist in the EPO and the USPTO too is gradually cracking down on these, especially because of the US Supreme Court. It does not mean that patent law firms will take this defeat without a fightback.
Elaine Bergenthuin, “owner and managing partner of De Beer Attorneys” by her own description, has just got published this self-promotional puff piece in the South African media. It appeared there this morning and it’s not a good article, it’s more like marketing. “You cannot generally obtain patents for software in South Africa,” the article correctly states (see our Wiki page “Software Patents in South Africa”), but Bergenthuin is then finding some loopholes and promoting these, as if to say, “come to me, I’ll help you get software patents by working around the law.”
“Software developers don’t bother trying to get software patents in India, but patent law firms mislead them.”This is very typical. The press is full of this marketing spam. The local press all over the world has been reduced to advertisements in ‘article’ form.
Here is an example from India which is only days old. Software developers don’t bother trying to get software patents in India, but patent law firms mislead them. They have nothing to lose; the lawyers always get paid (irrespective of success rate), and it’s clear at whose expense.
Watch another new example that we found in the Indian press a couple of days ago. It speaks of some who “hold only a handful of patents and that too on software related to audio and keyboards.” So these are software patents. Why bother?
A site that’s preoccupied with promotion of software patents published one week ago an article titled “Hop on the Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) via Australia”. One can guess who wrote it and it says: “While Australia isn’t usually considered a very important market since its population is so small and its manufacturing base is limited, it is our experience that there are a few US companies realising that prosecuting in Australia to use the PPH back into the US makes sense. There is always the option of filing in Australia first and using an Australian patent application as the priority application. However, one would need a foreign filing license from the US before doing so. A strategy could be to file a provisional in the US, receive the foreign filing license, and then file a standard (utility) application in Australia to take advantage of the expedited examination process at IP Australia to hop onto the Patent Prosecution Highway via Australia.”
“The press is full of this marketing spam. The local press all over the world has been reduced to advertisements in ‘article’ form.”Well, “prosecuting in Australia to use the PPH back into the US makes sense” only if software patents were actually potent there. They’re not. So once again we can see bad advice being given by the patent microcosm. What happened to journalism? Well, this isn’t journalism, it’s marketing. We recently wrote about the Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) in relation to Australia, noting that the EPO — not just the USPTO — embraces these under Battistelli (even in rather dubious places with hardly any patents). The EPO is totally out of control when it comes to patent scope and it probably breaks the rules of the EPC when it comes to that. There is still a discussion about how this has been made possible in the first place. One person asks: “Has anything in the PPI, which must be done by the EPOff or the EPOrg, ever been done? I am thinking of the relations with the work-rules regulating organs of the host countries (Arbeitsinspectie, Gewerbeaufsicht,…)”
Well, Battistelli is “instructing the staff to sidestep part of the EPC,” one person responded. Here is the comment in full: “Yes, but what would the dispute be? According to 23(1) above, doesn’t it only arise if immunity has been claimed? Not sure that BB instructing the staff to sidestep part of the EPC would fall within that. He wouldn’t claim immunity (from what?) – he’s just doing his job.”
We worry that the EPO, especially under Battistelli, is now cooperating with the patent microcosm and just abandoning patent quality control (improving the “success” rate of patent law firms). See this new ‘article’ titled “Patents in Denmark”. “In general,” it says, “software as such is not patentable (Section 1(2) of the Patents Act). However, it is possible to patent software as part of a patent whose subject matter is a process. Further, software is patentable if it has the potential to bring about, when run on a computer, a further technical effect which goes beyond the normal physical interactions between the program and the computer.”
“There are only (formally) software patents in the US (maybe in Japan as well), but they’re being used by foreign entities outside the United States.”Actually, these are dubious claims that rely on Brimelow sidestepping the EPC. Things have become even worse in German courts and the German patent office. Here is a new example of software patents for German company in the United States. These patents have been weaponised and “[a]ccording to the complaint, the asserted patents generally relate to industrial control systems that employ advanced software to program, run, and visualize industrial control processes. In particular, the ‘226 patent relates to interfaces for connecting a computer to devices on multiple industrial control networks so that data may be communicated across the different industrial control networks to and from an application program running on the computer.”
These are software patents from the US. There are only (formally) software patents in the US (maybe in Japan as well), but they’re being used by foreign entities outside the United States. We sure hope that people will come to grips with the corrupting influence of patent law firms in this debate and also acknowledge that software patents bring nothing but negatives to society; they’re good only to patent lawyers and patent offices where the goal is to increase so-called ‘production’ as measured in terms of the number of granted patents. █
Send this to a friend
« Previous Page — « Previous entries « Previous Page · Next Page » Next entries » — Next Page »