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EPO, in Its Patent Trolls-Infested Forum, Admits It is Granting Bogus Software Patents Under the Guise of 'Blockchain'

Does it have data storage somewhere? Patentable! Just claim that it's "distributed".

What is the Difference Between a Blockchain and a Database?



Blockchain



Summary: Yesterday's embarrassing event of the EPO was a festival of the litigation giants and trolls, who shrewdly disguise patents on algorithms using all sorts of fashionable words that often don't mean anything (or deviate greatly from their original meanings)

YESTERDAY, a day after the embarrassing behaviour had already become evident, Croatian media was having a go again at the corrupt Vice-President of the European Patent Office (EPO). It's an article about corruption and pedophilia in the Republic of Croatia. We will write about it soon. These cases of corruption are very problematic not only for the reputation of the Office but also that of European Patents. There are many such patents (about a million unexpired ones).



Yesterday there was also an event about blockchains and it was an EPO event. We've already written a lot about this subject, e.g. in:

  1. Blockchain and Bitcoin Patents Help Demonstrate How Software Patents Get Used by Giants to Crush Emerging Technologies ('Threats')
  2. Blockchain Domain Infested With Software Patents, MasterCard Among the Culprits
  3. Financial Giants Will Attempt to Dominate or Control Bitcoin, Blockchain and Other Disruptive Free Software Using Software Patents
  4. Blockchain Becomes the Target Not Only of Financial Institutions With Software Patents But Also Trolls
  5. Walmart, Bank of America, Allied Security Trust (AST) and the Rush for 'Blockchain' Patents


We're going not to focus so much about what blockchains are; they're abstract, no doubt, they're a conceptual thing. Instead we want to focus on what the EPO says an does about blockchains. It's quite incredible and even disturbing that the EPO is now retweeting the world's most notorious patent trolls and letting them promote software patents in Europe. It's almost as though patent trolls nowadays control the agenda of the Office. Maybe it can be understood in light of the EPO's hiring of actual thugs, especially for top positions like hirings themselves. The EPO is perfectly happy to give a platform -- keynote even -- to people who send me death wishes. The EPO actually retweeted both personal and company's account of Erich Spangenberg. It doesn't get any worse.

"The EPO is perfectly happy to give a platform -- keynote even -- to people who send me death wishes."This troll has even been mentioned by Team UPC folks. One of them wrote: "My partner Christoph von Praun will tomorrow attend the conference "Patenting blockchain" at the @EPOorg in The Hague. Speakers include @mariekeflament and Claire Weils of @circlepay and @SpangenBlog of @ipwe."

Team UPC must be very happy to see (in)famous patent trolls on stage. After all, they're some of the biggest clients of Team UPC. "Today," wrote another person, "associate Howard Read is attending the #PatentingBlockchain conference at the @EPOorg. The conference explores #IP protection, and in particular the patenting of blockchain technology and its applications in different technical fields."

"Team UPC must be very happy to see (in)famous patent trolls on stage. After all, they're some of the biggest clients of Team UPC."Never mind if it all boils down to software. Here is the EPO's official account quoting thugs, extortionists, scam artists and trolls [1, 2]. Will Madoff be at the next EPO event?

It is not exactly surprising (or even new) that the EPO promotes software patents under the guise of "blockchains"; it has also just done that with "SDV" and with "AI" when it wrote: "The #patent system can benefit from AI which will make the work of examiners easier. Adding the layer of human intelligence will enable progress."

So even this blockchains event invokes "AI". Basically, the EPO now uses a slant on "AI"; it just means algorithms, such as search, mis-framing it all so as to pretend experienced examiners can just be replaced by some machines. Should we also have academic papers automatically generated?

"Basically, the EPO now uses a slant on "AI"; it just means algorithms, such as search, mis-framing it all so as to pretend experienced examiners can just be replaced by some machines."Watch who opens up this event of the EPO. When clueless, nontechnical politicians ride the waves of buzz and marketing it looks like this [1, 2, 3]. At no point do they demonstrate any comprehension of the underlying concepts. Watch who's on the panel. The one person there who's semi-technical comes from OIN, a pusher of software patents (and the "Microsoft loves Linux" lie). He's there alongside people like Fröhlich (EPO). OIN is being revealed for what it truly is: a shield of the status quo (IBM et al with their lust for "blockchain" patents).

Here's what the EPO said about him [1, 2, 3, 4]: "The next panel with Mirko Boehm at #OpenInventionNetwork, Benjamin Bai at Ant Financial Services Group/Alipay, Klaus Haft at @hoyngrokh, Richard Bennett at SSM Patent Attorneys & moderated by Michael Fröhlich at EPO will discuss the IP landscape of #blockchain #blockchainpatents pic.twitter.com/EnfjV0cfzN [...] Mirko Boehm: “The fundamental building blocks of #blockchain are open source and will continue to be so in the future. This is how the industry is currently developing. “ #patentingblockchain #blockchainpatents [...] Mirko Boehm at #OpenInventionNetwork: “Over the past 5 years that I have attended EPO events, there has been noticeable progress on the sources of data for prior art and the possibility of identifying it.” #blockchain #blockchainpatents" [...] Where do you see #blockchain in the next 5 yrs? M. Boehm: “It’s a promising technology with drastic impact in the financial & logistics fields” B. Bai: „More patent applications will come. In terms of solving technical bottle necks: The best is yet to come“ #blockchainpatents"

"OIN is being revealed for what it truly is: a shield of the status quo (IBM et al with their lust for "blockchain" patents)."They're mixing two things, maybe intentionally (the same slant as "AI"); one thing is patents on blockchains and another is use of blockchains to manage patents. So which is it? In this event the separability is virtually non-existent. Here's the last of this bunch of tweets: "Where do you see #blockchain in the next 5 yrs? Richard Bennett: “I look forward to seeing how the legal framework will developed by the EPO” Klaus Haft : „More activities over next years. In terms of litigation in #blockchainpatents, we’ll see it only after the 5 years.”"

That doesn't even make any sense. What does "litigation in #blockchainpatents" even mean? It means nothing. It's gobbledygook. Ledgers for court filings?

As Benjamin Henrion (FFII) correctly pointed out: "EPO forgot to invite the critics, OIN was probably invited to justify the "you see, we even asked the point of view of open source". Disgusting."

"They're mixing two things, maybe intentionally (the same slant as "AI"); one thing is patents on blockchains and another is use of blockchains to manage patents."IAM did the same thing a few months ago. OIN represents large corporations, not the Free/Open Source community. The same is true for the Linux Foundation, but that's another subject altogether.

Now, watch what the EPO said about Benjamin Bai [1, 2]: "Benjamin Bai: “You cannot patent the fundamental #blockchain technology, however you can patent value added services based on blockchain” #blockchainpatents #patentingblockchain [...] #Blockchain is still a young technology both from a regulatory perspective and patent litigation perspective. It needs the space to grow. But we don't want to see litigation killing innovation, says Benjamin Bai #blockchainpatents #patentingblockchain"

That thing about "patent value added" is completely nonsensical; these are still software patents, but the Office is corrupt enough to grant them (examiners are threatened to). Never mind if courts would reject them (if it reached that far). Painting algorithms with "blockchain" brushes isn't a new concept, but this time they do a whole conference/forum to promote this practice.

"That thing about "patent value added" is completely nonsensical; these are still software patents, but the Office is corrupt enough to grant them (examiners are threatened to)."Notice how, as per this EPO tweet, they even admit those patents are "CII": "Richard Bennett at SSM Patent Attorneys: “In the field of CII, patent attorneys try to get broad claims while limiting only those features for defining the envisaged invention. “ #blockchainpatents #patentingblockchain"

They then retweet this buzzwords salad -- typical keyword/buzzword stuffing from proponents of abstract patents: "blockchain, AI, smart contracts, IoT, interoperability..."

Georg Weber and Yann Ménière, who are loyal pushers of software patents (whom Battistelli put in high places in order to grant such patents illegally), are at it again.

"Georg Weber and Yann Ménière, who are loyal pushers of software patents (whom Battistelli put in high places in order to grant such patents illegally), are at it again."The EPO retweeted this thing: ""The world will be tokenised". Great insights from @mariekeflament & Claire Wells of @circleinvest and Georg Weber & Yann Ménière of @EPOorg at #patentingblockchain conference in The Hague this morning. pic.twitter.com/XlwCpy3Og9 – At European Patent Office"

So based on lies and deliberate misinterpretation of the EPC they grant patents on something they call "blockchain"; will courts honour such patents? No, even those in the audience are sceptical. Gabriele Mohsler of Ericsson is quoted by the EPO as saying: “At the moment the most pertinent challenge is drafting a good application which will hold in front of the court.”

They're openly recognising that the courts know these are bunk software patents. So Mohsler then speaks of "the technical effect." The EPO quotes her as follows: "Gabriele Mohsler shares two tips based on her experience at @Ericsson: drafting claims in an indirect way and better understanding of the technical effect. #blockchainpatents #patentingblockchain"

The term "technical effect" has always been laughable nonsense. We've been joking for it for years. The EPO retweeted someone who said "Blockchain patent filings 2008-2018 dominated by China and the US. Numbers growing rapidly!"

"The term "technical effect" has always been laughable nonsense. We've been joking for it for years."That's just because the term is rather new, just like "cloud". Distributed databases go a very long way back. There's prior art. As the EPO admits: "The first patent filing including the actual word #blockchain happened in 2012, says Claire Wells at @Circlepay #blockchainpatents #patentingblockchain"

But it goes a long way back; the words/terminology were just different. Wells then said it is "hard to protect it on an open source basis” (whatever that even means). The EPO wrote: "Claire Wells @Circlepay: “The ethos behind #blockchain took a libertarian stand, but in order to enable to derive value, it is very hard to protect it on an open source basis” #blockchainpatents #patentingblockchain"

Again, this is pretty meaningless and vague. Yes, many blockchain implementations are Free/Open Source software. Now they just try hard to strap software patents ("CII") onto these. Here they are using the term "CII" again. In the EPO's words: "The EPO practice of examining #blockchain inventions is predictable, harmonised and offers legal certainty. It is documented in the CII guidelines and is entirely based on case law from the BoA #blockchainpatents #patentingblockchain"

"...many blockchain implementations are Free/Open Source software. Now they just try hard to strap software patents ("CII") onto these."They clearly know what they're doing here.

"If a court in France finds blockchain unpatentable under the EPC," Henrion (FFII) wrote (referring to an actual court ruling from France), "will the EPO adapt [sic] its practice?"

"Of course not," I responded. "The EPO repeatedly ignored courts, attacked courts, attacked judges (driving them almost to suicide), and broke the law like it's a hobby/sport."

Another person (FFII in Sweden) wrote: "So are records on a blockchain ever since IBM and EPO bent the rules for patent inflation. Its not inventions. Its an abstract exercise in monopolizing language and math that causes risks and harm to society and innovation."

"He is promoting hype around "blockchain", but at the same time he labels it "CII"."In case there's any doubt, even the EPO's Vice-President from Spain is admitting explicitly that it's about granting patents on software ("CII"). In the EPO's own words: "Alberto Casado, EPO VP Operations : “There are many conferences about blockchain, but this one was the very first ever about #patentingblockchain. I would like to thank everybody for making this good exercise possible” #blockchainpatents pic.twitter.com/cLu7dI2Ybw [...] Blockchain inventions are part of CII. The EPO is well prepared for assessing patentability in CII, says Alberto Casado #blockchainpatents #patentingblockchain [...] Alberto Casado, EPO VP Operations: Thank you for being with us today. Applicants, scientists, researchers, attorneys - We have learnt a lot from you. #blockchainpatents #patentingblockchain"

He is promoting hype around "blockchain", but at the same time he labels it "CII". Remember the EPO's Lievens? He's now quoted as saying: ”We at the EPO need to be ready for this #blockchain “invasion” in other fields...”

"...it certainly seems like nothing but an echo chamber of patent maximalists, led by literal patent trolls who even admit that they favour software patents and that blockchain patents are just software patents."What other fields? The blockchains are just software.

Surveying who the EPO has retweeted (e.g. this thing), it certainly seems like nothing but an echo chamber of patent maximalists, led by literal patent trolls who even admit that they favour software patents and that blockchain patents are just software patents. They also admit their uncertainty about courts' approval.

Finally came the closing words in the late afternoon. It doesn't seem as though António Campinos attended. At no point was he mentioned.

In summary, trolls from the United States (who used fake patents to shake down thousands of businesses) are now the 'face' of the EPO. How fitting.

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