Posts Tagged: "epo"

‘Not a Field of Giants’: Trends in 3D Printing Tech Include Key Contributions from U.S., Small Companies

On July 13, the European Patent Office (EPO) published a landscaping study titled “Patents and additive manufacturing: Trends in 3D printing technologies”. The study highlighted current trends and identified industry leaders in additive manufacturing (AM), i.e. 3D printing. It noted that between 2015 and 2018 the number of AM patent applications increased at an average annual rate of 36%, with more than 4,000 AM patent applications filed in 2018 alone.

Envisioning a Future of AI Inventorship

For the past 60 years, scientists have been able to utilize artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and other technological advances to “promote the general science …”. U.S. courts have increasingly come under pressure to not only allow AI-directed applications as patentable subject matter, but also from a small yet determined and growing contingency of IP professionals, to recognize the AIs themselves as the inventors. The EPO recently handed down guidance that AI could not be recognized as inventors on patent applications. The purpose of this piece is not to debate the merits of whether or not AI should be given inventor status on applications which, it has been argued, they are rightly due—nor should it be. It is important, however, to peek beyond the looking glass into a future where AI are given status in the United States that has, as of the writing of this piece, been reserved for human beings. Let’s explore a few main issues.

UPDATED: Global IP Offices Respond to COVID-19

We live in interesting times. No corner of professional or personal life seems untouched in at least some way by the latest coronavirus (named SARS-CoV-2) and the disease it causes (named “coronavirus disease 2019” abbreviated COVID-19). Governments all around the world are either demanding or suggesting that people quarantine themselves or engage in social distancing. The intellectual property world is no different. The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), the European Patent Office (EPO), the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), IP Australia, the German Patent and Trade Mark Office (DPMA), and the UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) are just some of the Offices that have in recent days issued COVID-19 guidance to inform stakeholders of how the Offices will handle workflow and meetings during this global health emergency.

EPO Provides Reasoning for Rejecting Patent Applications Citing AI as Inventor

Earlier this month, the European Patent Office (EPO) and the UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) each rejected two patent applications that designated an artificial intelligence named DABUS as the inventor. While the UKIPO published a decision setting out its reasoning, the EPO simply stated at the time that the applications did “not meet the requirement of the European Patent Convention (EPC) that an inventor designated in the application has to be a human being, not a machine.” Now, the EPO has released more detail about the grounds for its decision. In the EPO press release today, the Office explained: “The EPO considered that the interpretation of the legal framework of the European patent system leads to the conclusion that the inventor designated in a European patent must be a natural person. The Office further noted that the understanding of the term inventor as referring to a natural person appears to be an internationally applicable standard, and that various national courts have issued decisions to this effect.”

Eight Tips to Get Your Patent Approved at the EPO

Patent prosecution can sometimes seem to be a rather byzantine process. As with anything, the more you understand, the better prepared you will be for the strategic decisions that lie ahead, some of which will result in a streamlined patent approval, but which will also raise the overall cost of obtaining the protection desired. In this regard the patent process is full of trade-offs. For many, getting a patent quickly is very important, as is the case with high-tech start-ups and SMEs seeking reputational advantages, additional funding, licensing opportunities and partnerships. With this in mind, here are eight helpful tips co-authored with the Morningside IP team and specifically aimed at those applicants filing at the European Patent Office (EPO) who are hoping to obtain a strategically reasonable set of patent claims with a streamlined patent application approval process. Of course, following these eight tips can and should also pay dividends with respect to getting your patent approved in other patent offices around the world.

EPO and UKIPO Refuse AI-Invented Patent Applications

The European Patent Office has refused two European patent applications that designated an artificial intelligence called DABUS as the inventor, following a non-public hearing on November 25, 2019. The applications are for a “food container” (number EP3564144) and “devices and methods for attracting enhanced attention” (number EP3563896). They were filed by the Artificial Inventor Project, which has so far filed patent applications for the inventions via the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Israel, China, Korea and Taiwan.

Patentees Need to Act Fast as the EPO Opposition Timeline Tightens

In early 2019, we undertook a comprehensive research project to develop a forensic understanding of European Patent Office (EPO) oppositions, particularly in the life sciences sector, analyzing EPO opposition data in far greater depth than in any publicly available report. We examined more than 5,000 opposition cases filed at the EPO over the last 10 years and studied the timelines for hundreds of life sciences oppositions. The resulting report, entitled EPO Opposition Trends in the Life Sciences Sector, offers a granular understanding of the EPO opposition procedure and its various nuances. Introduced in July 2016, the EPO’s streamlining initiative was designed to simplify opposition proceedings and deliver decisions more quickly, thus providing “early certainty”. The EPO’s target pendency is 15 months by 2020 (opposition pendency here being measured from expiry of the nine-months-from-grant period for filing an opposition to the Opposition Division issuing its decision). Our research revealed that the streamlining initiative is on track to meet its target in the life sciences sector. The mean opposition pendency has been reduced from just over 22 months in 2015 (pre-streamlining) to 17 months in 2018 (post-streamlining).

IP Holds Lessons for Antitrust Law; No Monopoly on Patent Appeals the Way to Go

In November, the UIC John Marshall Law School held their 63rd Annual Intellectual Property Conference in Chicago, IL.  The program consisted of four plenary sessions and nine breakout sessions covering artificial intelligence, patents, copyrights, trademarks, trade secrets, antitrust, and in-house counsel, as well as IT and privacy developments.  Speakers came from China, Europe, and the Middle East, and represented government, industry, academia, nonprofits, and practice. IPWatchdog’s Editor-In-Chief, Eileen McDermott was there. The program kicked off with a keynote address the Honorable Chief Judge Diane Wood of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.  Titled “Antitrust & IP: Does It Need to Be Retooled?”, Chief Judge Wood spoke about the need for procedural and substantive reform. She began by observing that “[t]he general rule has been for many years — and I think this is entirely correct — that intellectual property is property.” She noted that this approach has been encapsulated in the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission’s Guidelines for the Licensing of Intellectual Property, and that “the fundamentals of antitrust analysis are the same, although the answers may be a little different.” Citing standard essential patents as an example, she said that “there may be some real synergies back and forth between the IP field and the antitrust field that would be well worth exploring,” in particular when considering how antitrust law should approach access issues involving digital platforms, as what is sought is “FRAND-type access to these platforms. ”

European Patent Office Study Shows Patents Matter for SMEs, Economic Growth

“IP matters for the European economy,” said Yann Ménière, the chief economist for the European Patent Office (EPO), who provided the opening keynote presentation at the EPO’s High-growth technology business conference 2019 on November 4 in Dublin, Ireland at Aviva Stadium. Leading off a packed two-day program, Ménière released the results of an EPO study on how Small-to-Medium Enterprises (SMEs) used intellectual property rights, specifically patents. SMEs typically file European patents for high-potential inventions that find their way to market, the EPO study finds. Therefore, not surprisingly, the EPO report also shows that SMEs that rely on patents have an above average number of employees, and those employees are higher paid and contribute more to European GDP.

Searching for Answers to the Standard Essential Patent Problem

Later this year (likely in October), the United Kingdom’s highest court will hear arguments on questions arising in two disputes concerning standard essential patents (SEPs). The UK Supreme Court has agreed to hear appeals in Unwired Planet International Ltd and another v Huawei Technologies (UK) Co Ltd and another UKSC 2018/0214 and the joined cases Huawei Technologies Co Ltd and another v Conversant Wireless Licensing SARL UKSC 2019/0041 and ZTE Corporation and another v Conversant Wireless Licensing SARL UKSC 2019/0042. The arguments are likely to focus on one question: can a national court impose a global license in SEP cases? The closely watched appeal will be the culmination of years of litigation between the parties. In the Unwired Planet case, Mr. Justice Birss of the High Court heard five trials on the validity and infringement/essentiality of Unwired Planet’s patents. In April 2017, he then gave a mammoth judgment determining what a fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) license would be, and setting royalty rates. Critically, he found that only a worldwide license would be FRAND in the circumstances of this case. The England and Wales Court of Appeal upheld this conclusion, in a judgment in October 2018. The Supreme Court will likely sit in a five-judge panel in a hearing that will last about two days and will be live streamed on its website (the date and panel details have not been confirmed yet). It will hand down judgment later this year or early in 2020. (Ironically, patent specialist Lord Kitchin is a member of the Supreme Court but will not be sitting in this case as it is his own judgment that is under appeal.) You might have thought that—after decades of legal debate and academic writing, dozens of judgments addressing questions such as what constitutes a FRAND license and what are reasonable royalties, and extensive discussions between technology companies—the questions around SEPs would be close to being resolved. But that is far from the case. The outcome of the UK Supreme Court hearing, for instance, will have an impact on negotiations between owners of SEP portfolios and implementers worldwide, at a time when standards are set to become critical to many more industries.

Mistakes to Avoid When Filing Computer-Implemented Invention Patents at the EPO

In the final installment of my interview with three examiners at the European Patent Office (EPO), we wrap up our conversation about their approaches to examining computer implemented inventions, particularly in the field of artificial intelligence (AI), and how the EPO system compares with the U.S. patent examination system.

Software May be Abstract, But a Computer-Implemented Invention Produces a Technical Effect

In Part II of my interview with three examiners at the European Patent Office (EPO), we continue the conversation about their advice, pet peeves, and approaches to examining computer implemented inventions, particularly in the field of artificial intelligence (AI), and how the EPO system compares with the U.S. patent examination system.

How to Help an EPO Examiner and Improve Your Odds of Patenting a Computer-Implemented Invention

I recently had the opportunity to speak on the record with three examiners at the European Patent Office (EPO) about their advice, pet peeves, and approaches to examining computer implemented inventions, particularly in the field of artificial intelligence (AI), and how the EPO compares with the U.S. patent examination system. It was a wide-ranging and thoroughly enjoyable conversation with three professionals who obviously know this area very well, and who were willing to provide keen insight into ways applicants can and should improve technical disclosures to maximize the likelihood of obtaining a patent.

A Proposal for Reforming the Current UK Patent Law System Post-Brexit

“It is, to me at least, regrettable that because these apparently simple words [computer programs … as such] have no clear meaning both our courts and the Technical Boards of Appeal at the EPO have stopped even trying to understand them. However, we are so far down that road that “returning were as tedious as go o’er”. Instead we are now engaged on a search for a “technical contribution” or a “technical effect”. Instead of arguing about what the legislation means, we argue about what the gloss means. We do not even know whether these substitute phrases mean the same thing […].” – Lewison LJ, in HTC Europe Co Ltd v Apple Inc [2013] EWCA Civ 451 [143]. This extract has inspired this article, in an effort to scrutinize whether the critique by Lewison LJ is still controversial today, six years after that judgment was rendered in the United Kingdom. In doing so, the article analyzes the two divergent approaches on determining whether a particular subject matter is patentable under UK and EU patent law, focusing specifically on the patentability of computer programs/software. First, I discuss the “technical contribution/effect approach” by the UK courts (“UK approach”) and the “any hardware approach” by the European Patent Office (“EPO approach”). The differences between these two approaches become apparent in comparing the former to the latter, in light of HTC Europe v. Apple, and by attempting to define the legal terminology addressing “computer programs” and “technical contribution’/‘technical effect”.

Mission Impossible? How U.S. Drafters Can Minimize Support/Clarity Issues Under Article 84 EPC

When drafting Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) applications, or applications intended to be prosecuted abroad, a U.S. drafter inevitably faces the challenge of providing a description in line with the requirements of different jurisdictions. By the time feedback is received from the foreign patent offices, it will be too late to make any adjustments, and important aspects of the invention may inadvertently be lost. The challenge might feel impossible when dealing with the requirements of the European Patent Office (EPO), as the European Patent Convention (EPC) regulations on written description are framed in a way that is fundamentally different from U.S. regulations. For example, the requisites of providing an adequate description and notice of the metes and bounds of the claimed invention are framed in the United States as separate requirements (written description and definiteness respectively) with different legal bases (35 USC 112(a) for written description and 35 USC 112(b) for definiteness respectively).