02.19.19

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Search Matters Not at the European Patent Office

Posted in Europe, Patents at 3:24 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Early Certainty From Google (April 1, 2018)

Campinos in the penthouse

Summary: The EPO has found out that “System Battistelli” [1, 2] has been catastrophic for the quality of patents; it stops short of openly admitting it as such and in fact it keeps the message strictly confidential (explained to insiders, who will inevitably notice a system being abandoned)

IT ought to have become clear by now that the European Patent Office (EPO) is unable/unwilling to reform. António Campinos is not changing anything except the level of advocacy for software patents in Europe (i.e. lowering patent quality even further).

Earlier this month we wrote about teffgate and now it’s mentioned in IP Kat as well, courtesy of yesterday’s post from Jonathan Pratt. He mostly cites other sources, but he binds together several items we covered earlier this month (about departure from the EPC, decline of patent quality/legitimacy, and courts throwing out European Patents).

Kluwer’s patent blog has also posted a number of articles this week. This started with an analysis of how to deal with unusual prior art when applying the EPO’s Problem and Solution Approach, in particular when there are doubts about whether the closest prior art is enabling. The second post related to the changes in the latest version of Visser’s Annotated European Patent Convention. Next up, a court in the Netherlands ruled that two Dutch patents for processing teff (a kind of grain) are invalid. This was declared as “great news” for Ethiopia which has been using teff for thousands of years. This was followed up with a comparison of the test for sufficiency in Australia and the UK following recent cases relating to Lyrica. Finally, there was an analysis of the recent decision of the District Court of The Hague that the Dutch part of Eli Lilly and Company’s patent EP 1 313 508 is valid.

As recently as last week we wrote about the “AI” buzzword/hype taking over Europe in an effort to promote bad things like surveillance; it’s often a Trojan horse/back door for software patents as well and hours ago Intellectual Property Watch published “EU Members Adopt Plan To Make Europe A Leader In Artificial Intelligence”. It turns out that it isn’t necessarily about patents, but it likely cites things like that recent UN/WIPO report. “The European Council of member states has adopted an all-encompassing plan to make Europe a global leader in artificial intelligence and integrate AI into all aspects of regional life. The plan, which comes as Europe has been identified as lagging in AI research and investment behind the United States,” says the opening (not behind their paywall).

Speaking of “AI”, belatedly the EPO admits it’s failing to replace examiners with so-called ‘AI’ (which means just “Algorithms” or “Computers” these days). As Märpel has just explained:

Märpel heard that the office computer tools are not working as well as they should. This was confirmed at the beginning of this month by an audit that was concluded by Boston Consulting Group and published by President Campinos. Märpel is frankly surprised that the audit did not leak into the general public as it paints a dismal picture of system Battistelli. Our readers will certainly remember that under President Battistelli millions were paid for software development and that a surprisingly high proportion of the IT firms chosen were French.

The pinacle of the IT tools was supposed to be the “Electronic dossier system” or eDossier. The office had great hopes in the eDossier, as it would have rendered formality officers redundant: the computer would have managed the procedural aspects automatically. The catastrophic state of formalities results from a continuous policy of understaffing in the past years: why replace staff if the computer will render them all redundant anyway?

But the e-dossier does not work. The audit suggested to close the project and the decision was published last week.

The original message came from a new appointee and former colleague of Campinos.

It seems clear that for a number of years the EPO foolishly attempted to replace examiners with low-quality automation which SUEPO repeatedly warned about/against (as did we). In fact, almost every day this month the EPO published “searchmatters” tweets like this one from half a day ago: “Check out this collection of lectures and workshops to see why #SearchMatters…”

Well, if only the EPO truly believed that “SearchMatters”; it seems to be trying to cut costs and cut the legitimacy of European Patents. If these were the goals, it succeeded at both. However, that puts at peril the future of this entire institution. This is why there was such strong resistance from examiners. In the next post we shall give new examples of bogus (as confirmed by assessors) European Patents.

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