The problem is the underlying software patents and trolls
Summary: A new initiative called “PatentShield” is launched, but it’s yet another one of those many initiatives (Peer-to-Patent and the likes of it, LOT Network, OIN, PAX etc.) that serve to distract from the real and much simpler solutions
FIGHTING patents with patents is a worthless exercise of endless war and sometimes just reckless stockpiling which accomplishes nothing at all. We wrote about this in relation to Red Hat 8 years ago.
“This is why Microsoft loves using trolls as satellites, including Intellectual Ventures, which has thousands of satellites of its own and is controlled by Microsoft.”A decade or more ago, around 2005, Red Hat helped fight against software patents at the EPO, but later on both Red Hat and Google started accumulating software patents of their own, falsely arguing that they need these for “defence”. Acacia, a patent troll with Microsoft connections, repeatedly disproved them. One cannot sue trolls; there’s nothing to sue over. This is why Microsoft loves using trolls as satellites, including Intellectual Ventures, which has thousands of satellites of its own and is controlled by Microsoft.
“There is a lot of hype this morning about PatentShield, which wrongly assumes that what we need to shield us from patent attacks are more patents.”Not too long ago Google bragged about something called “PAX” (or Pax, i.e. peace), which we criticised several times. It doesn’t really help address the underlying problems. It tackles neither trolls nor software patents. See this latest new example where the buzzword “AI” gets used as a loophole for post-Alice software patent grants. There were two puff pieces about it this morning [1, 2], the latter of which says: “A new patent for “whole brain” systems for autonomous robotic control has been issued by the U.S. Patent Office to Neurala, the software company that invented The Neurala Brain, a deep learning neural networks platform. This new invention will enable AI to function more like a human brain because it integrates multiple brain areas.”
I have personally developed programs in this area (machine learning, autonomous vehicles etc.) and it’s abundantly clear that it’s all about software.
“What PatentShield is likely to accomplish is little but distraction from the real solutions (which Google isn’t genuinely interested in).”There is a lot of hype this morning about PatentShield, which wrongly assumes that what we need to shield us from patent attacks are more patents. We found quite a few articles early this morning [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6], accompanying several copies of the press release (there was clearly a large, well-coordinated effort to get the word out, including paid press releases and probably PR agencies). No doubt there are many more articles on the way and almost none will go beyond repeating quotes from the press release (and those who paid for these, or their PR agents).
For those who think that PatentShield is a sort of “Eureka moment” or some brilliant thing “to Defend Startups from Patent Litigation” (as the headline of the press release claims) we have a good offer; land on the Moon and on Mars!
“Microsoft, for instance, habitually sends out trolls to attack its competition.”What PatentShield is likely to accomplish is little but distraction from the real solutions (which Google isn’t genuinely interested in). Meanwhile, MOSAID (now known as Conversant) gears up for more litigation. IAM has just been writing about this Microsoft-fed patent troll that pays IAM too. “According to USPTO data,” IAM wrote yesterday, “Conversant was assigned 29 US patent assets by Seoul-based semiconductor foundry Dongbu HiTek and its affiliate Dongbu Electronics in a transfer executed at the end of last year. The patents appear to relate to CMOS image sensor technology.”
It’s not hard to imagine what will happen next. The industry is already suffering from trolls abundance (there is a new site called “Don’t Bully My Business”) and Conversant/MOSAID is just one of many. Microsoft, for instance, habitually sends out trolls to attack its competition. It’s a convenient loophole. Microsoft is like Qualcomm in that sense and regarding the FTC (critic of PAEs in its recent report) which we wrote about some days ago, IAM says this:
The FTC’s case against Qualcomm was filed amid the dying embers of the Obama White House and accused the chipmaker of anti-competitive practices in the supply of its baseband processors and in its patent licensing. But the move was not without controversy. In a 2-1 decision in favour of bringing the suit, Commissioner Maureen Ohlhausen wrote a strongly worded dissent in which she claimed the court action was “based on a flawed legal theory”. Trump has appointed Ohlhausen the acting FTC chairman as the administration searches for a permanent appointee and, should the new head share her sentiments, the government’s support of the suit against Qualcomm may become lukewarm at best. The letter is a clear attempt to try to ensure that doesn’t happen.
We very much doubt that a corporations’ government — be it Obama’s or Trump’s — will tackle the underlying issues. So far it has been mostly SCOTUS which contributed to progress with decisions like Alice and hopefully TC Heartland some time soon.
The bottom line is, small trolls and ‘institutionalised’ trolls continue to prey on the system, both directly and indirectly. PatentShield is more like a PR ploy of Google and Intertrust; it won’t actually help victims of trolling. Ignore and move on. █
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“Patent monopolies are believed to drive innovation but they actually impede the pace of science and innovation, Stiglitz said. The current “patent thicket,” in which anyone who writes a successful software programme is sued for alleged patent infringement, highlights the current IP system’s failure to encourage innovation, he said.”
–IP Watch on Professor Joseph Stiglitz
Summary: The granting en masse of questionable patents by the EPO (patent maximalism) is becoming a liability and growing risk to companies which operate not only in Europe but also elsewhere
THE USPTO isn’t perfect, but at least it’s improving. We have repeatedly commended its Director for steering the Office in a positive direction which is widely supported by most of the industry, just not the patent microcosm (which is eager to oust her and undo all the progress).
At IP Watch, Steven Seidenberg has just published behind paywall this piece about a SCOTUS decision which he says “will benefit patent trolls and other unscrupulous patent owners, at the expense of companies,” citing “few observers” of the SCA Hygiene Prods. Aktiebolag v First Quality Baby Prods case. We wrote about this before.
“…the EPO’s inability to operate in a capacity other than rubber-stamping has wide-ranging and long-ranging (beyond Europe) ramifications.”“On the positive side,” he added, “the ruling brings US patent law more in line with Europe’s patent law.”
So what? That in itself is not necessarily a positive thing. Watch what the EPO has become and how flagrantly it disregards European patent law, including its founding document, the EPC. The dysfunctions of the EPO are in fact becoming a headache and a liability even well outside the continent of Europe. This new article, titled “Planning to Request Discovery for a European Patent Office Proceeding? Not So Fast, Rules the District of Massachusetts”, says the following:
The Hon. F. Dennis Saylor, IV of the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts recently denied a petitioner’s request under 28 USC § 1782 to take discovery related to patent inventorship in connection with an Opposition proceeding pending before the European Patent Office (EPO). The court, in exercising its discretion under the U.S. Supreme Court’s so-called Intel factors set forth in Intel Corp. v. Advanced Micro Devices, Inc., 542 US 241, 264 (2004), denied the petitioner’s request for discovery because the EPO generally does not allow the type of discovery requested by the petitioner in an Opposition proceeding, thus the petitioner’s requested discovery would have no place in an EPO Opposition.
Put in simple terms, based on a x86 case from 13 years ago, it is not possible for US entities to look into the reckless actions (widely known by now) of the EPO, where patents are granted in error.
The author, Alison C. Casey from Nutter McClennen & Fish LLP, says this “illustrates the need for inventors to be familiar with patent laws, procedures, and proceedings in foreign jurisdictions.” That’s like saying, “come to me! Give me business, I’ll advise you.”
But between the lines we see that the person affected in his capacity as an attorney is actually European. To quote:
The petitioner, George Schlich, is a European patent attorney who brought this action as an agent of Intellia Therapeutics, Inc., a genome editing company based in the United States. Schlich petitioned the district court to order discovery under 28 USC § 1782 in connection with a proceeding before the European Patent Office related to an EPO-issued patent for an invention known as the CRISPR/Cas9 system, which provides scientists with an inexpensive and precise method of editing DNA for biological and medical research. The underlying dispute in the EPO is whether The Broad Institute, Inc., a biomedical and genomic research institute affiliated with MIT and Harvard, can rely on its U.S. provisional applications filing date for priority in its European patents.
We wrote a great deal about this CRISPR fiasco in the US and in the EPO. The above is a reminder that the EPO’s inability to operate in a capacity other than rubber-stamping has wide-ranging and long-ranging (beyond Europe) ramifications. █
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Related: Bristows-Run IP Kat Continues to Spread Lies to Promote the Unitary Patent (UPC) and Advance the EPO Management’s Agenda
Photo credit: Managing IP
Summary: Not only are Bristows employees grabbing the mic in various high-profile IP blogs for the purpose of UPC promotion (by distortion of facts); they also actively suppress critics of the UPC
THE EPO‘s management isn’t alone; some people do in fact stand to benefit from its so-called ‘reforms’, notably Team UPC. But only if the UPC ever becomes a reality, which seems far-fetched a concept. They try to make it desirable and inevitable, but it’s anything but.
“IP Kat does censor comments, but apparently not as zealously as Kluwer.”Bristows, a core part of Team UPC in the UK, is exploiting external blogs for marketing, as almost nobody reads (or even knows about) its own blog. They’re doing this not just in IP Kat (two more puff pieces from the Bristows lobbyist there yesterday and another one this morning, with pro-trolls bias) but also in Kluwer, which doesn’t seem to mind poor track record of the messengers (they may also be falsifying quotes). Brian Cordery (Bristows) published something in Kluwer some days ago and it didn’t go too well, especially if commenters are not denied a voice. In IP Kat, for example, whenever there is an article promoting the UPC we find that almost every single comment refutes it. IP Kat does censor comments, but apparently not as zealously as Kluwer.
“Have you seen the discussion in the comment section here,” one reader asked us, pointing to this puff piece which boils down to amplifying Team Battistelli. “Very remarkable,” our reader called it. Here is the key part from this echo chamber, which excluded critical voices as usual:
The second session looked at the topic of Brexit and IP. Margot Fröhlinger, the Principal Director of Patent Law and Multilateral Affairs, spoke first. She addressed the state of implementation of the Agreement. 12 have ratified so far but not Germany and the UK. Both however are on track – according to the latest reports. Turning to the impact of Brexit, Margot noted that most commentators had initially assumed Brexit was the death knell for the UK’s participation in the UPC and possibly for the whole project. Over time, these views had softened but it was still a surprise when the UKIPO announced on 28 November 2016 that the UK was going to proceed with ratification. Nevertheless this was seen as very positive news by proponents of the system. Margot considered that the UK’s participation could be secured if there was sufficient political will, given the marginal influence of the CJEU in the UPC regime. Moreover in the unlikely event that the UK left the system, arrangements will be put in place to ensure that participants are not prejudiced. Margot felt that the system would be impoverished without the UK judges and practitioners. Panellist Joel Smith thought that there was political will for the UK participation but it was just one of many pieces in a very complicated puzzle. Panellist Trevor Cook wondered if we may end up with the UPC system applying in the UK but not unitary patents. Judge Klaus Grabinski thought that all options remained on the table and Margot Fröhlinger pointed to Denmark’s involvement in the Brussels Regulation as a precedent.
The ‘fun’ part starts in the comments, which help highlight — however difficult these things tend to be — that there is suppression in the comments.
Read the first comment:
UPC and the Brexit
Declaring that the influence of the CJEU in the UPC regime will be marginal is quite daring and has more to do with wishful thinking than a robust analysis of the situation.
That a lot of stakeholders, especially UK law firms, would like UK to stay in the UPC is understandable but does not make it more likely.
In any case, it is a bare minimum to consider that arrangements will be put in place to ensure that participants are not prejudiced should UK leave the UPC. The contrary would be astonishing.
Overall, it is nevertheless doubtful that that UK will stay in the UPC after Brexit. If this would be the case, it would mean that EPLA is revived in a different form. It is anything but sure and certain that the CJEU would agree on this. Ever heard of Opinion 1/09? It makes it even more strange to decide upfront about the marginal influence of the CJEU….
I hope that this post will be published, contrary to my earlier one. In the contrary I would like to be told the reasons for non-publication. If only nice things can be said in a blog, then it is not a blog….
So Bristows, a key lobbyist for the UPC, not only lies about the UPC but also engages in censorship of UPC critics. “Having had two comments blocked,” as the above person points out, means that it’s no accident. Here is another comment:
Having had two comments blocked, I take it for acquired that any comment slightly critical of the UPC and hence not corresponding to the interests of Brystows is not to be published in this blog.
I find this appalling. A blog is there to confront points of view, not to exclusively express a positive opinion on the UPC and/or considering a post-Brexit participation of UK in the UPC highly likely.
Even IPKat accepts dissenting opinions.
I am therefore not agreeing with Techrights that IPKat has been taken over by Brystows. I am even of the opinion that often Techrights deserves the cause it wants to help in being apodictic and extreme in its view.
Should I not get a reply giving me the reasons as to why my comments were blocked, I will make the matter public.
In our defense, in the context of the UPC, we view ourself as counterpropaganda, or the voice that helps counter the propaganda, without being propaganda on its own. The only thing we have at stake is fear of patent trolls, which UPC would make possible here.
The above commenter continues, later adding:
The above comment was not to made public at once. I want a detailed reply first.
That’s when “Kluwer Blogger” weighed in to say:
The author would like to point out that he was just reporting the views of those expressed by the speakers at the conference. Personally, he feels that where there is a political will, a way will be found. Though he recognises that there is a long road ahead.
As a reminder, this is who leads this echo chamber, based on a screenshot taken 3 days ago:
Here is another person complaining about censorship:
Daniel Thomas laments that his postings were “blocked”. I sympathise with him. But readers will be aware that blocking is sometimes appropriate. For example, if you follow the lively Patently-O blog (or the Comments threads on the UK newspaper The Guardian), you will know that some posters are offensive and so it is appropriate to “block” their offensive outpourings.
Of course, it is a difficult judgement, what has to be “blocked”. Me, I cannot imagine Daniel Thomas ever being offensive. In my experience he is an exceedingly courteous man.
Daniel, the blockings on Patently-O are done by a computer and often for me inexplicable. Perhaps something like that happened here, with your non-appearing postings?
The best comment we’ve found mentions the impact on IP Kat as well:
Please note that, unfortunately, this “blog” is primarily not an academic playground, but rather a marketing tool for Kluwer and their authors, trying to push public opinion in a way suiting their needs. Another example for such tool is the above mentioned IPkat blog after Jeremy’s departure.
As a consequence, it should not come as too much of a surprise that comments expressing a view contradicting that of Kluwer et al are swept under the blanket. For instance, they have long abandoned publishing critical voices on the UPC as it would be required for an open debate and instead prefer presenting their exclusive narrative on how things stand and where they go. Of course, usually this has not much to do with reality which allows certain deductions to be made as regards the UPC project as a whole if it can only be kept alive based on skewed perspectives and the input of obviously biased individuals, apparently having to be protected from an open discussion.
From an academic standpoint and the perspective of free speech, this is a rather depressing situation, but clearly it is the path Kluwer et al have chosen to follow. We will see if this comment makes it to publication or whether it will be suppressed as many others. In the latter case, there will at least be a screenshot confirming that it has been successfully submitted.
For the record, here in Techrights we have 33,894 comments. We never in our entire history censored even one comment. Not even extremely rude ones!
“IP Kat used similar excuses as well. They censored me several times — to the point where I complained to the blog’s founder and altogether stopped commenting there.”Bristows are, as always, utterly terrible liars and the more they do this shameful suppression of speech, the more eager we are to expose what they’re up and stop them. Brian Cordery and his colleagues long ago abandoned facts; all they care about is money. Cordery concluded the thread with: “The author reiterates that all non-derogatory comments will be published and apologises for any delay caused due to his travel schedule.”
Well, there was probably nothing derogatory in them (nobody can see to verify); that’s just a typical excuse after removing ‘unwanted’ comments. IP Kat used similar excuses as well. They censored me several times — to the point where I complained to the blog's founder and altogether stopped commenting there. █
“Proverbs are always platitudes until you have personally experienced the truth of them.”
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It’s only getting worse than earlier this month…
Summary: The pro-UPC outlets, which enjoy EPO budget (i.e. stakeholders' money), are becoming mere amplifiers of Benoît Battistelli and his right-hand UPC woman Margot Fröhlinger, irrespective of actual facts
IN our previous post, a post about the EPO, we noted that the UPC cannot happen (it’s stuck). Everybody knows it, but the lobbyists (notably Team Battistelli and Team UPC) try hard to deny it. The UPC threatens to bring to Europe the patent trolls that currently or previously revolved/orbited around the USPTO.
One new comment from this morning spoke about BB’s (Battistelli’s) “Plan B” as follows, reinforcing voices of insiders who believe that Battistelli has no intention of leaving (just like Erdoğan). To quote:
Don’t assume that BB does not have (or will not generate) a “Plan B” that will be equally unpalatable as a 3-year extension.
Remember, this is a man who has virtually wrecked the EPO on the grounds of financial self-interest (of the EPO management, the AC delegates and the Member States), in the process trampling over the (basic human) rights of the staff, crippling the Boards of Appeal and blatantly ignoring both the interests of the users and the rule of law. For someone who has achieved all that, what is to stop him twisting the agenda yet again to suit his personal needs? Certainly not the AC.
We expect that Battistelli will use the UPC woes as an excuse and ask for “more time” to “make it happen”. It’s like that classic Martial Law (or national emergency or wartime) pretext for never-ending dictatorship.
“They are manipulating international media and apparently even blogs now.”We are still truly disgusted to see what IP Kat has become. I used to view them as allies, but now they are like foes. They do exactly the opposite of fixing the EPO and instead bolster the dictatorship. Here it is writing once again about that stupid think tank, complete with stuffed/stacked panels from Microsoft, Bristows and other lovers of UPC (litigation plus patent maximalism) Kool-Aid. Battistelli’s chief UPC liar, Margot, was already aided by the Bristows mouthpieces, who in effect took over IP Kat. It’s almost unthinkable and unbelievable that IP Kat was a prominent critic of Battistelli one year ago. “The mere presence of members of the Boards of Appeal [in the panels] would have spoiled the performance of the other member of staff of EPO,” said one comment. “She came to herald the UPC, one wonders why.”
She did the same thing in Korea some weeks ago. They are manipulating international media and apparently even blogs now. Yesterday, the Bristows-run blog (IP Kat) continued to cheer for patent trolls that operate in London (profitable for Bristows). Something like the UPC would make things even worse!
As someone pointed out in the comments this morning:
What always worries me in this respect is A54(3) EPC. I could scan through the patent publications in the afternoon of the publication day, find something interesting, add a few trivial features (the processor may be silicon based, a copper containing current distributor may be used, etc.) and file it as my patent application before 24:00. As the original application is only prior art according to A54(3) and I have some trivial features for novelty, I should be fine and get it granted.
Another person asked: “Entitlement?”
“…Annsley Merelle Ward continued acting almost like a Battistelli ‘mole’ inside the blog.”Remember that Unwired Planet is just a patent troll utilised by Ericsson.
Bristows staff soon thereafter proceeded to another EPO puff piece (like amplifying Margot). In it, Annsley Merelle Ward continued acting almost like a Battistelli ‘mole’ inside the blog. Those who make a living out of litigation (like trolls with threatening letters) understandably tolerate Battistelli because of his UPC ambitions. Watch this new tweet that says “Anjali Chopra of GreyB believes that getting rid of #Patenttrolls would hurt #innovation”
Let’s just pretend — as some legal firms do — that patent trolls are good for innovation. Let’s just invert truths, pretending that UPC would be good for SMEs etc. Just earlier this month the Washington Times published “Banish the [patent] trolls” — an article which explains, in the words of United For Patent Reform, that “[p]atent reform requires shifting burden of proof “to the trolls and away from inventors & innovators”…”
From the article:
There’s an entire class of litigants in patent law that lawyers call “venue-shoppers.” U.S. district courts in East Texas and Delaware have become the go-to venues, courts likely to produce huge judgments in plaintiffs’ favor. Courts in these jurisdictions have shown themselves to be sympathetic to the trolls, or as they call themselves, “patent-assertion entities.”
Patent trolls, typically shell companies, buy the rights to dormant patents and use them to extort holders of similar patents by filing false patent-infringement claims. Defendants will often settle out of court just to make the case go away. It’s cheaper than hiring expensive lawyers to fight claims without merit.
The predatory patent-infringement threats and lawsuits drained an estimated $29 billion from the U.S. economy in 2011 alone, according to a Boston University study released in June 2012. That figure represents only direct legal costs, so the true economic toll is much higher since the true toll includes “various indirect costs such as diversion of resources, delays in new products, and loss of market share.”
Taking much of the above into account, what we have now is a British blog called IP Kat which is primarily run by proponents of patent trolls, software patents, the UPC and even Battistelli’s agenda. The FFII’s President today complained that “Redhat does not do much against swpats [software patents] anymore, against UPC for ex it is around zero.”
“Taking much of the above into account, what we have now is a British blog called IP Kat which is primarily run by proponents of patent trolls, software patents, the UPC and even Battistelli’s agenda.”It leaves not so many of us to fight for EPO justice, to combat the UPC, to stop trolls, and take away those software patents they rely on so much.
IAM ‘magazine’, a think tank of Battistelli, pushes on with propaganda and fake news about the UPC, citing this piece that says:
The Isle of Man is signing up to a Europe-wide system for registering patents.
It is planned for the agreement to continue beyond Brexit.
No, it’s not. That’s a lie right there. They perpetuate UPC lies again. It probably won’t be long before IP Kat, i.e. Bristows, does another series of lies about the UPC, feeding much of the misinformation whose purpose is to compel officials abroad to ratify (based on false information). █
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Summary: Conflict between management and staff — a result of truly destructive strategies and violations of the law by Benoît Battistelli — continues to escalate and threatens to altogether dismantle the European Patent Office (EPO)
WO hours ago (at the earliest), based on this page, there was a Freie Wähler motion for EPO workers who are being abused in Germany. It can go on almost until midnight, or the window for this motion will be some time from 2 hours ago until 10 PM GMT. The “basic rights for EPO employees,” SUEPO explains, “will be discussed today, 25.04.2017, between 14.00-23.00…”
“Meanwhile, as some people have already noticed, Battistelli’s political party in France has just lost…”“Unfortunately,” SUEPO continues, “we cannot inform you on the exact time. We can only inform you that it is motion 23 of 29 motions to be discussed.”
We can only wait and hope that someone in Germany (or someone who understands German) will publish the outcome, transcript, etc. We’ll happily accept and of course publish anything to that effect if it’s sent to us.
Meanwhile, as some people have already noticed, Battistelli’s political party in France has just lost (his political affiliation disqualifies him by the way, just like his age, making him strictly unsuitable for his position). Here is a comment posted in relation to the outcome of the election (first round):
Bad evening for Battistelli : crooked Fillon lost it!
Indeed Battistelli placed until very recently, his hope in Fillon’s election (they both belong the same political party Les Republicains). He was heard in Munich telling with his usual arrogance that should Fillon win, he would get a three years’ extension
well Benoit, time for a change? En Marche back in St Germain !
Battistelli should never have been given the job of President (of EPO). He is a political figure. It’s not allowed. But Battistelli, being Battistelli, breaks all the rules and lies all the time. The man is a chronic liar. It has gotten so bad that every time he speaks out (it has been a while) it’s guaranteed to be a lie and this is why we call him the Liar in Chief.
Recall the latest article from The Register; it was neatly split into four parts: Battistelli’s claims (lies), refutation from stakeholders, refutation from insiders, then an attack on insiders who say the truth. The third part contained some new information (not covered here before) and it noted “a stunning 99 per cent conformity” at the EPO, which means that Battistelli turned the EPO into another FISA/FISC, i.e. rubberstamping operation. To quote from page 2:
At the same time that the EPO management has relentlessly pushed to speed up processes, it has had maintained a second keen focus on quality, knowing full well that the entire Battistelli experiment could fall apart if the quality of patent examination is seen to suffer.
Ominously, however, as soon as the reforms started taking effect EPO management introduced a new approach to quality measurement that removed many of its independent aspects and put them under the control of the president and his team. In addition, an effort to speed up the process, combined with an aggressive clampdown on staff by management, has undermined the process for critical evaluation of patents.
Previously, the three-person team working on a given patent case would work together and then the chair in each case would do a quick quality check at the end of that process to confirm all was fine.
Under the new system, the chair is expected to weigh in earlier and lodge any concerns in the EPO’s Conformity Assurance for Search and Examination (CASE) system before talking to the first evaluator. The subsequent conversation on those points is then also lodged in the system.
The end result of this change is any errors that were previously caught at the earliest stages become a part of the record: so either the first examiner is seen to have made a mistake or the chair is seen to have falsely flagged a problem.
The end result of that, according to internal figures that The Register has seen is that there is less critically analysis being applied to applications rather than more as examiners worry about EPO management blaming them for, ironically, bringing down quality metrics.
Prior to the change, there was a 85-88 per cent conformity rate i.e. agreement between examiners; after the change, a stunning 99 per cent conformity. Battistelli’s team, convinced that their pressure tactics are simply causing people to work harder and better, view the results as validating their approach when in reality it undermines it.
But just as the EPO is increasingly unable to keep a lid on the impact of its “early certainty” program, so the knock-on impact on EPO report quality is starting to overwhelm the management’s efforts to contain it.
At the last meeting of the EPO’s Administrative Council, when the management team outlined their unlikely double-whammy of more patent application approvals while quality also rose, staff union representatives gently suggested that the figures were not showing the full picture.
Astounding, isn’t it?
No matter if one is an examiner, an attorney, lawyer or whatnot, this isn’t good. It’s not good at all. It’s almost as though the EPO covertly adopted 'registration' only, just like in France. It means that stakeholders are overpaying, examiners are made almost redundant (their skills aren’t being put to proper use), they are compelled to operate like machines and get sacked if they refuse to. Who takes the blame for all this? Not the management.
Battistelli is now doing the same thing to judges and notice the following remarkable comment:
As I have heard Americans refer to Patent Agents and Patent Atttorneys as “Patent Lawyers”, for the benefit of our transatlantic cousins, perhaps Mr. Justice Birss’ comment that that “… you don’t have to have a science degree to be a great patent lawyer” requires qualification. As far as the UK is concerned, the statement may well be true for someone who wishes to qualify as a Barrister or Solicitor with a view to specialising in Intellectual Property: however, in order to sit the qualifying exams for a UK Patent Attorney or a European Patent Attorney, a degree in Science or Engineering is normally essential. As an exception the EPO does allow candidates who have a technical qualification that is not of the required academic standard may be allowed to sit if they can offer sufficient post-qualification experience in industry.
Well, not anymore. First of all, the EPO almost stopped hiring judges (see the sad state of the appeal boards), as if the only judges to be hired are seen as UPC placeholders. Some insiders have openly hypothesised that Battistelli hopes to just demolish the EPO, negligently deal with the remaining pending patents, and get the UPC off the ground, even if it’s not possible due to Brexit and other show-stopping barriers.
In blunt terms, the EPO has truly become a clusterf*ck under Battistelli. Everyone knows it and everybody suffers from it. █
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Welfare for a fossil of a company which bullies real companies (like Microsoft still does) without really creating anything
Summary: The state of the mobile market when companies such as Qualcomm, which don’t really produce anything, take a large piece of the revenue pie
Qualcomm does not make phones. At least not anymore. The same is true for Microsoft (with rare, minor exceptions here and there). Yet they want to be paid for every phone produced (raising prices considerably). They’re like patent trolls — the very same thing that BlackBerry and Nokia gradually become as their sales flat-line near 0. Their stockpiling of patents, they believe, is their last remaining ‘asset’ in the mobile market (Nokia, BlackBerry, Ericsson and Microsoft also feed patent trolls for this purpose). Various software patents, granted by the USPTO before Alice, account for the lion’s share of the said patents, the rest being on hardware, radio, etc. Please note that we are not opposing hardware patents like this one just covered by Patently-O or material-related patents like the one just covered by Managing IP. In the case of Qualcomm, a lot of their patents are on software (their former chiefs advocated these patents last month), so we stand on pretty firm ground when we oppose these. So does Florian Müller, who has just found out that “Qualcomm’s involuntary refund to BlackBerry amounts to approximately $5 per device” and added:
The term “specified number of subscriber units from 2010 through the end of 2015″ in Qualcomm’s press release on this month’s arbitration award could mean all or some of the devices BlackBerry sold during the period in question. What I’m interested in (because I believe many readers will be curious, too) is what indication the “rebate” gives us with a view to Qualcomm’s standard-essential patent (SEP) royalty demands. A couple of months ago I saw indications, by deducing and inferring information from certain public documents, that Apple may have been paying Qualcomm approximately $20 for its baseband chip and a second amount like that for patent license (a total of $40 per device for the chip and the license). The higher the rebate is on a per-unit basis, the more likely it is that Qualcomm’s royalty demands are really that high (we’re talking about stratospheric heights compared to what other companies are rumored to receive; for example, financial investors appear to believe that Nokia receives about $2 per device from Apple).
So let’s look at publicly-available information in the light most favorable to Qualcomm: that the “royalty cap” applied to all BlackBerry smartphones sold in the years 2010-2015. Not only is that most favorable to Qualcomm but it’s also a reasonable assumption.
How many of the patents in question are no longer valid after Alice and what will regulators say about Qualcomm’s anticompetitive practices?
“We live in a world where journalism about patents is composed by non-scientists who speak to lawyers, not scientists.”We certainly hope that Qualcomm will just disappear. It contributes nothing and takes away from everyone.
Suffice to say, the patent microcosm is supportive of Qualcomm. They push the bogus narrative of “inventors” (who create nothing) being “robbed”. Some take this further and pretend that it’s the root of all the problems in the US. For example, as if everything boils down to patents (the more, the merrier), Watchtroll has just published “Fixing America’s Patent System is the Best Strategy to Jump-Start our Stalled Economy” (on Monday).
“It has become so bad that the industry is full of trolls — one of whom (Erich Spangenberg) made about $50 million from one single patent which recently turned out to be invalid.”What they mean by “fixing” is the very opposite of fixing. They want to bring rise to more Qualcomm-like parasites.
Yesterday, behind a paywall, the patent microcosm also promoted software patents, as it so habitually does. Heck, who needs the opinion of actual software professionals? We live in a world where journalism about patents is composed by non-scientists who speak to lawyers, not scientists. It has become so bad that the industry is full of trolls — one of whom (Erich Spangenberg) made about $50 million from one single patent which recently turned out to be invalid. Think of all the companies he robbed by this charalatan over the years. █
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Summary: The latest example of software patents advocacy and patent ‘parades’ in India, as well as something from IPOS in Singapore
THE USPTO has shifted in a direction similar to that of India, i.e. no software patents, at least not without some loopholes that would most likely fail to convince courts (so the patents are no longer potent, at least once challenged).
“LexOrbis is not a software firm; it’s an enemy of many and it uses terms like “Computer Related Inventions” (CRI), which just like CII is a dodge from the term that would instantaneously disqualify patents.”Several weeks ago we saw LexOrbis promoting Indian software patents at IAM and elsewhere, based on flawed logic. These opportunists, spinners and self-serving staff of LexOrbis keep lobbying against India’s laws not because they care about software but because they want to prey on software developers, using patents on software. The latest such piece is “India: Need ‘SoftPatents’ for Software Inventions” and it shows them trying to work around the law, then concluding with “let us keep looking for that inventive step in ‘software inventions’ and file patent applications for Computer Related Inventions.”
Or how about quit meddling in software? LexOrbis is not a software firm; it’s an enemy of many and it uses terms like “Computer Related Inventions” (CRI), which just like CII is a dodge from the term that would instantaneously disqualify patents.
“Just because patents become available for something doesn’t mean one will produce a better product or “think harder” or “innovate better”.”Elsewhere in the Indian press today, the patent microcosm maintains an atmosphere of confusion and mass deception. Here, for example, we have a new article titled “India leads Asian peers in growth in filing patents” — a piece which asserts that it’s something to be celebrated. Corporate media wants us to think that more patents mean more innovation and are necessarily more desirable. It’s not that simple. It depends on what these patents cover. Another corporate media ‘genius’ now conflates patents with innovation. Is he just gullible or intentionally dishonest? Just because patents become available for something doesn’t mean one will produce a better product or “think harder” or “innovate better”. It’s a myth.
What is the role model? China! Here is a portion:
China reduces patent fees by 75-80% for people who can’t afford it and has a patent fund to provide cash subsidies for patent applicants and patentees gratuitously.
And what has China gotten out of it? A massive surge in litigation and patent trolls. Is this really desirable? Well, for those who make a living messing around with papers (lawsuits, filings etc.) this is great.
Over at IAM, in the mean time, IPOS is quoted as some sort of authority; they never speak to actual engineers that create something. Daren Tang from IPOS is talking nonsense, resorting to the lingo of patent maximalists who compare monopoly to objects. Remember that it is IAM that keeps attacking India’s patent policy all the time (and almost every week/fortnight this year). We responded to some of it in:
We certainly hope that developers/engineers in India are paying attention and operating in a reactionary manner to all that meddling from the patent microcosm, its think tanks, and cooperative media. They will never rest until (if ever) software patents become legal in India. █
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Reference: Factory alleged to have ignored warnings
Summary: How intimidation and crackdown on the staff representatives at the EPO may have led to lack of awareness (and action) about lack of compliance with fire safety standards
IN THE last part about the fire hazard at the EPO we shed light on the continuation of this problem at the next building in the Netherlands. Why does this matter? Because the unwillingness of Dutch authorities to compel the EPO to obey the law causes the EPO to operate with impunity and potentially put a lot of lives in great danger, even consciously.
“Lately, it was the Dutch representatives taking a lot of heat or even coming under fire (pardon the pun).”Staff representatives are understandably afraid to bring this up. Each time they say the truth there is severe action of retribution from Battistelli and his goons. Lately, it was the Dutch representatives taking a lot of heat or even coming under fire (pardon the pun).
“Unfortunately,” one person explained to us, “the majority of the local staff committee as well as the local SUEPO committee have been very reluctant to take any further measures to protect our safety in case of a fire at our site. Until now they did not bother to inform [...] though some members were aware of this issue since November 2010.”
“The immunity of the EPO must be ended, and not only after a major catastrophe (one that would belatedly put the EPO in the headlines, due to a tragedy other than Battistelli).”See the effect of union-busting actions and extreme attacks on staff representatives? Even life-threatening risks (mere facts) become suppressed. We too need to be careful in what we say because we are well aware of risk to our sources. Not too long ago we belatedly kick-started a series revolving around the inadequacy of these facilities by sharing, in redacted form, anything but the most sensitive details. We feel safe to assert that this helps highlight human rights aspects (disregard for staff’s safety) and is in the public interest.
We would like to urge readers, especially Dutch-speaking readers, to forward these bits of information to the suitable authorities in Holland and urge for immediate action. The immunity of the EPO must be ended, and not only after a major catastrophe (one that would belatedly put the EPO in the headlines, due to a tragedy other than Battistelli). █
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