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[News] EPO Still Open for Exploitation with Software Patents

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The EPO's Reductio ad Absurdum

,----[ Quote ]
| Court decisions on whether software patents are permissible within Europe 
| have see-sawed wildly, with some decisions in favour being counterbalanced by 
| others that confirm that software cannot be patented “as such”. 
| Unfortunately, those meaningless weasel words “as such” have provided a tiny 
| opening for proponents of software patents – typically large companies that 
| want to use intellectual monopolies to stifle competition, and software 
| patent lawyers who want more lucrative business – that the latter are 
| constantly trying to widen.       
| [...]
| One trick that has been tried by software patent lawyers is to define 
| something called a “computer-implemented invention”, which is basically a 
| repackaging of software to include a technical effect in order to be 
| patentable.   


European software patent referral receives welcome

,----[ Quote ]
| In an interview at the beginning of this year, shortly after she took over 
| the top job in Munich, Brimelow said she wasn't ready to refer the software 
| patents question to the EBoA, perhaps out of respect for her predecessor.  
| Now that she is ready, the reaction has been positive.
| "It will be a landmark case with a sizeable effect on the interpretation of 
| patent law even beyond Europe," said Thomas Vinje, an intellectual property 
| expert and partner at the law firm Clifford Chance.  
| Pieter Hintjens, a prominent campaigner against software patents during the 
| political debate in 2005 and founder of software company Imatix, welcomed 
| Brimelow's decision.  
| "The (EPO) has resisted doing this for many years. In the past it didn't want 
| to clamp down on software patent applications for economic reasons: The EPO 
| makes money from patent applications and renewals. Brimelow at last is taking 
| a healthier approach, prioritizing the long-term interests of society ahead 
| of the short-term financial ones," Hintjens said.    


,----[ Quote ]
| The thorny issue of software patents in the EU was again in the news last 
| week. Regular readers will recall the ongoing row between the UK Intellectual 
| Property Office (UK IPO) and the courts over the former's application of both 
| UK and EU case law on the extent to which computer software can be patented. 
| The most recent round a couple of weeks back saw the Court of Appeal find the 
| UK IPO was wrong to deny a patent to Symbian's PC performance enhancing 
| software. Now the European Patent Office (EPO) has sought clarification by 
| way of a reference to the Enlarged Board of Appeal (which hears appeals 
| against EPO decisions) seeking to clear up some of the finer points of the 
| application of European patent law. Those clever kitties at the IP Kat reckon 
| the referral should end some of the uncertainty over computer software at the 
| EPO level and (indirectly) aid the UK IPO as well. Let's hope so.           



EPO Board to establish software patents?

,----[ Quote ]
| In fact, the questions seem like a school book example of avoiding
| clarifications by asking the wrong questions. Are the EPO just cowards,
| creating straw men or obstructing the clarity of law?


,----[ Quote ]
| Staff at the European Patent Office went on strike accusing the organization
| of corruption: specifically, stretching the standards for patents in order to
| make more money.
| One of the ways that the EPO has done this is by issuing software patents in
| defiance of the treaty that set it up.


European Patent Agents Go On Strike To Complain About Pressure To Approve Bad

,----[ Quote ]
| One of the causes of so many bad patents getting approved lately is screwed
| up incentives in the patent system. For a while, the US had a de facto system
| where agents were pushed to approve a patent when in doubt. That's because
| they were judged on how many patents they went through -- and if they
| rejected a patent, the applicant could complain and ask for a review --
| meaning that the examiner would have to spend more time reviewing that same
| patent again, decreasing the number of patents they had gotten through,
| potentially harming their "stats." Thus, it's often easier to just "approve."
| And, of course, the Patent Office itself is usually fine with this, because
| that means more patent applications and more fees.

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