Bonum Certa Men Certa

The European Patent Office Will Come to Regret the Fake Patents It Has Granted for Short-Term Financial Gains

These patents harm not only programmers; they also contribute to the deaths of many patients

Floodable keyboard



Summary: The patent trolls-aligned EPO is a massive liability to Europe; staff of the EPO admits this, but management of the EPO ignores the warnings and carries on granting fake patents (not compliant w.r.t the EPC) like there's no tomorrow

IN the United States, 35 U.S.C. ۤ 101 undermines a lot of patents on nature and mathematics. It prevents a lot of patent grants but more importantly it's used to dismiss lawsuits that leverage such bogus patents. The lawyers aren't happy. It prevents them making a lot of money from lawsuits, whose number is collapsing.



Watchtroll's new editor (the founder stepped down after two decades) has just used a former Federal Circuit chief judge to pretend patent law is to be made up by bribed politicians, not actual courts ("Judge Paul Michel: Look to Congress, Not Courts, to Fix the U.S. Patent System"). Michel is like a 'retired' lobbyist for software patents that patent trolls leverage (David Kappos does the same thing, often alongside Michel). This is nothing new. He always appears alongside the usual people, mostly former USPTO chiefs who are in bed with the litigation 'industry' (the new USPTO managers too have come from there). Donald Zuhn takes note of "effort by the Office to increase patent examination quality and efficiency through the development of an automated tool for USPTO examiners..."

Sounds familiar? It is more or less the same language we often see in Europe ("quality", "efficiency"...) and the same methodology that failed miserably.

The European Patent Office (EPO) is being copied by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). They want to grant lots of questionable patents which they know courts would reject (and judges aren't happy with that).

About a week ago we wrote about the Office kidnapping the branch of justice. It even abducts its overseer, the Administrative Council. There's no separation of powers (essential for real justice). So it's getting harder to demonstrate just how appalling patent quality became. The Office hopes to hide the facts and muzzle those who speak about it.

Meanwhile, J A Kemp, a proponent of patents on life, praises the EPO for liaising with nefarious groups. These are not "standards bodies" as the headline claims but more like front groups for patent trolls with their FRAND/SEP thickets which they exploit for anticompetitive blackmail. To quote:

The EPO has announced a cooperation with European Committee of Standardization (CEN) and the European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization (CENELEC) under which the three organisations will work together to improve and disseminate knowledge about the relationship between standards and patents. The agreement builds on existing co-operation in this area between the EPO, the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) and the European Commission.

Whilst the exact nature and intended outcomes of this cooperation are not known, the comments in the EPO's statement suggest a focus on providing further information resources for inventors and researchers in fields which are, or which may be in the future, affected by standards. This can only be welcomed as the increasing growth of Internet-of-Things development causes more and more diverse areas of industry to be impacted by the need to comply with (and potentially licence patents relating to) communications standards.


As we explained at the time, this is the EPO aligning itself with patent trolls and extortion rackets such as MPEG-LA.

Who can stop the EPO doing this? Seemingly nobody. This article which was cited by SUEPO on Thursday (yesterday) speaks of the judges' loss of independence:

Alluding to this pending referral, in the present case T 0403/18 one of the parties present at an oral hearing in Haar requested that this hearing be held in Munich. As can be inferred from the minutes of this hearing (the written decision has not been published yet), with agreement of all parties the oral proceedings were indeed relocated to the former home of the Boards of Appeal in Munich, i.e. the Isar building at the Bob-van-Benthem-Platz


It could be argued that all BoA decisions since 2014 have not been entirely valid because Battistelli eliminated judges' sense of independence and perception of impartiality. They decide with greater caution, having seen what happened to their colleague, Judge Corcoran.

Also cited by SUEPO on Thursday was this new article. Reported by Barney Dixon (IPPro Magazine) was a bunch of stuff based on a document we had published yesterday morning. To quote:

Despite a change of hands at the European Patent Office (EPO), little has changed in terms of social dialogue, representatives from the office’s Central Staff Committee (CSC) have claimed. In an intervention at the EPO’s most recent Administrative Council meeting, staff representatives claimed that while they would have liked to provide positive news about social dialogue and the social situation at the office, “no progress worth noting has been observed”.

During the meeting, EPO president António Campinos gave an update to the council on the development of the EPO’s strategic plan.

Campinos also discussed developments on social dialogue and the need to foster it.

The first goal of the strategic plan is to build an engaged, knowledgeable and collaborative organisation.

This includes looking at ways to attract talent, as well as achieving more harmonious social relations and to ensure there is meaningful dialogue between social partners.

[...]

SUEPO also noted that despite claims of increasing social dialogue, SUEPO—which represents about half of the staff—is still excluded as a negotiation partner.


So the union is too fearful to speak out, judges cannot speak out, and European authorities refuse to intervene. Immunity entails impunity. So the EPO continues breaking the rules by granting CRISPR patents. Not even a pretense of following the rules or consistency in decisions anymore?

Life Sciences Intellectual Property Review, an advocacy front group for patents on life (still disguised as a "news" site), has just covered this latest example. It's not an objective article but agenda-setting jingoism. Too much of that nowadays (decay of journalism). To quote:

The European Patent Office (EPO) has issued a new CRISPR/Cas9 patent to inventor Emmanuelle Charpentier, one of the key figures in the CRISPR landscape.

Today, April 3, ERS Genomics, the company providing access to CRISPR/Cas9 IP owned by Charpentier, announced she had been granted European patent number 3,401,400.


We took note of it earlier this week. Here they are granting patents in violation of the EPC. SUEPO has just estimated that about 30,000 such fake patents (European Patents not compliant with the EPC) may have been granted each year. Forward Pharma should know, having seen its granted patent implode, whereupon its very existence came into jeopardy. Yes, the EPO's abuses are crashing European companies' shares, invoking layoffs. The company has just published these results, taking note of its lost patent:

Research and development costs for the years ended December 31, 2018 and 2017 were $2.7 million and $20.5 million, respectively. The decrease in research and development costs for the year ended December 31, 2018 is the result of lower costs incurred in connection with the EP2801355 patent ("‘355 Patent") opposition in Europe ("Opposition Proceeding"), lower share-based compensation and the wind-down of our development efforts of dimethyl fumarate (DMF)-containing formulations.


The damage caused by the deterioration of the EPO remains to be realised. It can take decades to be fully evaluated. In the US, for example, patent trolls are said to have incurred losses of many tens of billions of dollars (taken out of the productive economy). Researchers such as James Bessen have done work to that effect. This is a lot more than the EPO budget for an entire decade. They just externalise the costs for private profits. The public pays.

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