11.05.16

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The Death of Patent Quality at the EPO and the European Commission’s Latest Smackdown of the EPO’s Patent Maximalism

Posted in Europe, Patents at 7:51 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Thorny business over patents on seeds, plants etc.

A seed

Summary: Yet more debunking of the ludicrous notion that the European Patent Office (EPO) maintains patent quality when grants go through the roof, sometimes irrespective of applications’ quality

THE EPO was once the world’s best patent office. Almost nobody would deny that. A lot has changed, however, and further exacerbated (accelerated decline) by Battistelli, who made the Office an unbearable place to work in.

What on Earth is an EP worth these days? Probably nowhere near the value of an EP even a decade ago. An EP is not so hard to get; it’s no longer a ‘trophy’. A whole paid-for press release about one such EP has just been published by Reuters (at great expense) only to say: “European Patent Office (EPO) has announced the intent to grant Respiratorius patent for VAL001, “A Pharmaceutical Composition Comprising a HDAC inhibitor and a steroid and the use thereof.””

So what? Here is another new example:

In the third quarter, The European Patent Office (EPO) confirmed that they had not received an appeal from the opponent regarding BioPorto’s NGAL Forms patent. This means that the patent remains valid. BioPorto has appealed EPO’s decision on the Exclusion patent, which was ruled invalid earlier this year. The NGAL Cutoff patent application has been amended according to the response from the EPO and BioPorto expects an approval to issue the patent within months.

But what is the validity of EPs once tested by European courts in the future? It may be hard to tell until half a decade from now.

“But what is the validity of EPs once tested by European courts in the future? It may be hard to tell until half a decade from now.”Be very careful repeating these latest lies from the EPO (some still repeat these). See our previous posts about gross mis-evaluation of EPs. This latest example links to this puff piece generated by lies, soon to be repeated over and over again by the EPO. These lies and bogus (misleading) numbers from the liars of the EPO would have us drooling over € 5.7 TRILLION, but only a fool would believe that. See this tweet and two more that say [1, 2]: “IPR-intensive industries generated a trade surplus of € 96.4 billion for the EU” and “IPR-intensive industries directly generated 28% of all jobs in the EU” (linking to epo.org).

IAM ‘magazine’ too is dropping some extraordinary numbers, but expecting IAM to lie is more natural than expecting the EPO to lie (until more recently, especially this year).

This brings us to the issue of patent scope. Here is EPO saying: “These are the topics we’ve prepared for this year’s Indo-European conference on ICT-related patents” (pushing for software patents again, clearly against the rules).

“Europe does not really have software patents, except in cases where examiners don’t do their job properly. They’re tricked or misled into thinking that a device — such as a general-purpose computer — makes the supposed invention “hard” rather than “soft” (or abstract).”See this recent article about software patents in Spain and take into account the situation in Germany and in the UK. Europe does not really have software patents, except in cases where examiners don’t do their job properly. They’re tricked or misled into thinking that a device — such as a general-purpose computer — makes the supposed invention “hard” rather than “soft” (or abstract).

EPOPIC too, on the face of it, includes talks about software patents where Philpott promotes/defends these. “We’ll be discussing what clients expect from patent searchers at #EPOPIC,” the EPO wrote, “For conclusions stay tuned!”

They separately wrote: “The Patent Information Conference 2016 starts next week. We look forward to your comments at #EPOPIC” (epo.org links again).

They don’t care about comments. Battistelli listens to and obeys nobody. “There has been enormous progress in Asian patent information in recent years,” the EPO wrote. “Follow #EPOPIC to learn more…”

Naturally, they have said absolutely nothing about major news that we first found out about via Dr. Glyn Moody, who alerted us to this article in German. The EPO’s patent maximalism problem is getting noticed; it makes politicians furious or at least antagonistic. Petra Kramer said about it that it’s “a further indication that patent quality is deteriorating under Batistelli” and she prepared a translation of this article in Dutch, her mother’s tongue. Source here (must accept cookies and other barriers).

European Commission invalidates EPO’s decision to patent tomatoes and broccoli

No patents can be filed on plant breeding in principle. “Improved” properties obtained through conventional, biological breeding methods are not patentable. That is what the European Commission decided on Thursday in an explanatory statement of a 1998 directive designed to protect biotechnological inventions.

The European Patent Office decided in March 2015 that enhanced products may be eligible for a patent under conditions. This would apply, for example, crossed broccoli or tomato species. Brussels now says that it was never the intention of the direction and that it leads to legal problems.

The European Parliament expressed itself last year against the decision of the patent office. MEPs as Jan Huitema (VVD) and Bas Belder (SGP) [both right wing, big business friendly parties – Petra Kramer] would prevent European farmers and growers who breed plants without biotechnology. EPO’s decision prevented them from using patented seeds of their home-grown plants.

Innovation

,,Patents on natural properties of plants stifle innovation and are a threat to the food supply and crop diversity,” Huitema responds. ,, The first battle has been won, the European Patent Office will have to comply by adapting their guidelines based on this new information.”

Netherlands is the second largest exporter of agri-food products worldwide. The Ministry of Economic Affairs has organized a symposium in Brussels in May with the aim to correct ,,imbalance ‘between the rights of patent holders and producers’ rights. There the conclusion quickly came forward that a pragmatic solution had to be made to put an end to the legal uncertainty.

Soon thereafter we also found coverage of something related to this from Switzerland (but in English). Quality of patent examination at the EPO obviously fell under Battistelli. It is now worse than even the USPTO, according to this new report. To quote:

A recently published study finds that, contrary to a conventional view, the United States Patent and Trademark Office undertakes more rigorous patent examination than the European Patent Office and the Australian Patent Office.

The study, published in the John Marshall Law School Review of Intellectual Property Law, provides “an answer to a question that, rather surprisingly, has not been addressed in the academic literature to date: What is the practical effect of patent examination?”

Petra Kramer asked: “How is EPO’s court appointed? Is it private (like ISDS) or public?”

“You mean boards or courts or tribunals maybe,” I replied, but she insisted on “[t]his one: the highest court of the European Patent Office has declared that plants are patentable.”

It’s a 2015 article/report about something that we covered here before. IP Watch has just covered this latest development (behind paywall) and it doesn’t look good for the EPO, which is increasingly disgraced. It grants patents on things that should never have been considered in the first place. Here is a report in English about it:

In a long awaited explanatory statement, the EU Commission takes the view that plants and animals that are obtained by means of “essentially biological” breeding are non-patentable. This statement is in strong contradiction to the current practice of the European Patent Office (EPO), which has already granted more than 100 patents on conventional breeding, e.g. on tomatoes and broccoli.

The international coalition No Patents on Seeds! has for many years been demanding that these patents are stopped. With the support of many thousands of supporters, they have filed petitions and oppositions. They are seriously concerned about the increasing monopolisation of the seed and food production. The organisations in the international coalition are now calling on the political decision-makers to ensure that the EPO fully adopts the EU statement, and the rules for the interpretation of patent law become legally binding.

Next time Battistelli brags about maintaining patent quality (probably next month in the Administrative Council’s meeting) show him the above. Battistelli is a chronic liar who turned the EPO from world leader into a public fiasco. This tarnishes Europe’s reputation and severely harms its competitiveness.

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