01.23.16

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EPO Implicitly Acknowledges Declining Patent Quality by Agreeing to Finally Dump Some Monsanto GMO Patents

Posted in Europe, Patents at 4:46 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Patent maximalism: when one wrongly assumes that the more patents, the better

A potted plant

Summary: An outline of news about Monsanto’s EPO patent on melons and some other examples of overzealous patent maximalism

IT IS gradually becoming quite a busy month for EPO actions, even after a reasonably slow start (calm before the dismissals storm). There is a growing backlog of articles about the EPO right now, only some of which relate to the dismissal of staff representatives (we shall cover these later). Among the complaints raised by staff representatives is the declining quality of patents at the EPO.

“The maximalists (patent lawyers and their Web sites in this case) are obviously salivating over UPC.”According to this Web site of patent maximalists, “Litigation map helps EU strategy preperation” [sic]. “An online interactive tool which compares the patent litigation regimes across Europe has been launched by law firm Taylor Wessing,” it says. It seems like an ideal tool for patent trolls, especially under UPC regime, if it ever becomes a reality at all. The maximalists (patent lawyers and their Web sites in this case) are obviously salivating over UPC.

According to other news, after the EPO foolishly granted patents to Monsanto (foreign company pursuing patents on life), there is a revocation. As Agra-net put it: “The European Patent Office (EPO) has revoked a patent held by Monsanto on cucurbit yellow stunting disorder virus (CYSDV)-resistant melons for “technical reasons”.”

Fruitnet wrote: “Pressure from coalition of NGOs results in decision to rescind seed breeder’s claim to fruit’s potential resistance” (clearly a case of patent maximalism).

IP Watch wrote: “The European Patent Office on 20 January revoked a patent held by Monsanto on virus-resistant melons for technical reasons, much to the glee of opponents of patents on conventional plants.”

“It’s quite revealing and it reminds us who really benefits from such patents. It’s not at all about people in the particular area, e.g. programmers.”We already spent a lot of time (and space) writing about Monsanto about half a decade ago. As Richard Stallman put it around that time (in relation to patents on life, which led to protests in German): “The European Patent Office [...] working for the people who want to crush everyone’s lives with monopolies” (like Monsanto). Stallman also went on to talking about software patents, which European patent lawyers such as Bastian Best keep promoting [1, 2]. He is reposting or posting new links to old articles of his in Twitter these days. It’s quite revealing and it reminds us who really benefits from such patents. It’s not at all about people in the particular area, e.g. programmers. Watch this new press release from Bellerophon Therapeutics [2, 1]. More monopolies, more innovation? It may mean higher profit for the patent office (in the short term) and more money for patent lawyers.

Don’t rely on patent lawyers to explain the value of patents. To them, the more, the merrier. The patent boosters from IAM, for instance, are now saying that the “Latest filing statistics show the growing value being attached to Chinese patents by foreign entities” (it’s called a bubble, especially given the low quality of Chinese patents).

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