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[FYI] (Fwd) PATNEWS: EPO patent quality dropping to low US levels

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Date sent:      	Fri, 3 Mar 2000 14:34:04 -0600
Send reply to:  	patent-l@ftplaw.wuacc.edu
From:           	Gregory Aharonian <srctran@world.std.com>
To:             	Multiple recipients of list <patent-l@ftplaw.wuacc.edu>
Subject:        	PATNEWS: EPO patent quality dropping to low US levels

!20000303  EPO patent quality dropping to low US levels; bad BizMeth

    New Scientist (19 Feb 2000, 6) reports that EPO examiners are
swamped to such an extent that the quality of their patents is
dropping. I wouldn't mind getting gossip from EPO examiners, if
nothing else to pass on to US examiners. Here's the article:

    Go-slow at patent office puts inventions on hold
    by Barry Fox

    Old ideas and inventions could be mistakenly granted European
    patents unless examiners' workloads are reduced, according to the
    staff union at the European Patent Office.  EPO examiners say they
    now have to process so many applications that they can no longer
    do their jobs properly and have begun industrial action in a bid
    to get staffing levels increased.  The examiners at the EPO's head
    office in Munich and branch offices in the Hague, Berlin and
    Vienna staged warning strikes earlier this year, but failed to win
    any concessions.

    Some 19 European states now support the EPO system of accepting
    one patent application for many countries, and as a result the
    number of applications filed is rising by around 10 percent each
    year.  SUEPO argues that staffing levels are lagging behind the
    growing workload, and that examiners do not have enough time to
    study new applications carefully and search for prior inventions
    which may invalidate claims. SUEPO chairman Desmond Radford says
    measures taken by EPO on 1 January 2000 to monitor each employee's
    output was "a step too far" and obliges examiners to do "shoddy"

    After a two-day stoppage last month, examiners are now delaying
    searches on non-urgent applications.  Urgent cases are searched,
    but the granting of formal patents is held back.  So inventors
    have to wait longer before they can enforce any patents they win.

    An EPO spokesman told New Scientist: "We accept that the workload
    has been increasing, but hope that more use of computerised
    records will help.  We are also trying to streamline [work flow]
    by asking the same people to examine a case and search for prior
    art.  These tasks have been separate until now."

For software and Internet patents, given EPO's inability (like the
PTO) to supply their searchers with good access to the prior art (I
have the data that backs up this assertion) the expectation should be
the same flood of crappy software/Internet patents coming out of EPO
that comes out of the PTO.  So all you Europeans in the computing
world better get ready for the fast growing levels of assertions of
nonsensical software/Internet patents that is currently plaguing the
US.  Relying on the patent offices and patent bars on both sides of
the Atlantic is a foolish thing to do.


This morning's PATNEWS had an item about a business method patent I
thought was real crappy.  A lawyer sent in the following comment on
why it isn't crappy, but rather useless:


    You know I'm a fan of yours and the Aharonian BizPat Thesis, but
    for your own credibility's sake, you should be a bit more
    circumspect before citing certain patents in support of that

    Regarding Pat. No. 6,007,340 below, you should know by now that
    the PTO allowed this claim because of its infinitesimally small
    scope. By use of the phrase "consisting of," claim 1 is limited to
    only the 7 enumerated qualities.  To avoid the patent, the
    defendant only needs to consider one more quality, e.g. "good
    typing skills", and they are not covered by claim 1.  The patent
    is, for all practical purposes, impossible to assert against
    anybody.  I, for one, applaud the PTO for not wasting their time
    in searching this one.  

My original article is attached below.  I still beg to differ with
this lawyer's comment.  The PTO shouldn't be issuing unassertable
patents - it makes a mockery of true inventors and good patents.  If
the PTO needs the issuance money that bad, let it go beat up some old
ladies and steal their money.  And even with its infinitesimally small
scope, the patent is still obvious and not novel.


In the spirit of the tremendous uproad over the Amazon patents (the
next few days will see an endless number of articles in the media,
partly to to Tim O'Reilly protest petition which at one point had over
7,000 signatures appended), a reader sent to me an example of yet
another stupid, PTO-not-qualified-to-examine, business method patent:

    M&S4 measuring leadership effectiveness
    What is claimed is:
    1.  A method for evaluating leadership effectiveness, comprising
    the steps of: - gathering target information quantifying at least
    one domain
      selected from the group consisting of having personal
      convictions, being visionary, building emotional bonds, being
      inspirational, being team oriented, being a risk taker, and
      having a drive to excel;
    - comparing the target information with a standard, the standard
      including standard values of the domain; and
    - identifying non-standard responses of the target.

What a total piece of crap.  Only four non-patent prior art items were
cited, absolutely nothing from the multitude of psychological academic
journals, conferences, and books by tall guys who walk on hot coals.
This claim is utterly obvious if you take MPEP, and instead of using a
bunch of Lutherans from the Midwest as the standard, you use a bunch
of executives.  Business method patenting will be a complete joke at
the PTO.

Greg Aharonian
Internet Patent News Service
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