Posts Tagged: "epo"

How the EPO and USPTO Guidance Will Help Shape the Examination of Artificial Intelligence Inventions

It is safe to say that Artificial intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) are hot topics and, as with any rapidly growing technological area on the industry side, there is also a rapidly growing number of patent applications being filed.In view of this, the European Patent Office (EPO) issued new guidance for examination for AI and ML patent applications in November 2018. Meanwhile, in January 2019, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) also issued revised guidance directed to what constitutes patent eligible subject matter under 35 U.S.C. §101. Although the USPTO’s revised guidance is more generally directed to software applications, at least one of the accompanying hypothetical examples (Example 39) is directed to the AI and ML space. Therefore, while there may be lingering concerns that AI and ML inventions will face extra scrutiny toward patentability due to their software-centric nature, the extra attention that the EPO and USPTO are paying toward AI and ML will likely help swing the pendulum of patentable subject matter toward a place that is in harmony with the current state of technology. The below analysis reviews the recent developments by the EPO and the USPTO to provide specific guidance on the topic of AI and ML.

EPO Patent Applications Grow By 4.6% to Reach New High

There were 174,317 patent applications filed at the European Patent Office in 2018, according to figures in its Annual Report published today (March 12). That represents an increase of 4.6% on 2017, when there were 166,594 applications. The number of patents granted also increased. The EPO published 127,625 granted patents in 2018, up 21% on 2017. U.S. entities are once again the most prominent applicants at the EPO, accounting for 25% of all applications in 2018. The U.S. is followed by Germany (15%), Japan (13%), France (6%) and China (5%). Applications from Germany grew by 4.7%, which the EPO attributed to an upward trend in the automotive sector and related areas, such as sensors and other measuring devices.

Mission Impossible? How to Effectively Draft the Background Section of a Patent Specification in Compliance with Both USPTO and EPO Practice

Preparation of the background section of a specification that complies with the requirements of both U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and European Patent Office (EPO) requirements is a classic conundrum for patent drafters seeking to file an application in both jurisdictions via the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) or direct filings. In U.S. patent applications, statements made in the background section can be considered an admission of prior art, regardless of whether the admitted prior art would otherwise qualify under 35 U.S.C. 102 and regardless of any disclaimer made. Additionally, statements made in the background section of an issued U.S. patent can not only be used against expert testimony that describes the prior art differently and during claim construction, but also can have a limiting effect on claim interpretation. As a consequence, discussion of deficiencies in the prior art can be interpreted as a disclaimer of the related features and therefore can severely (and often inadvertently) limit the interpretation of the claims. In contrast, statements made in the background section of EPO applications that discuss deficiencies and technical problems present in the prior art are expected to be included in order to enable the reader to understand the technical contribution to the art made by the invention as claimed. In particular, according to EPO practice, the applicant is expected to discuss the technical problem solved not just in view of the closest prior art at filing (subjective technical problem), but also, more importantly, in view of the prior art cited during prosecution in the context of the problem-and-solution approach (objective technical problem). Accordingly, applicants drafting applications to be filed at the EPO tend to provide a heavy background section with discussions of cited documents, related deficiencies and problem solved and later adjust it in view of the objective technical problem in view of the objective technical problem arising during prosecution. What constitutes best practice in this scenario and how the two practices can be harmonized is controversial.

Federal Circuit Again Considers USPTO Calculation of PTA in Supernus Pharmaceuticals v. Iancu

Last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit reversed a ruling of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, which had affirmed a patent term adjustment (PTA) calculation of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). See Supernus Pharmaceuticals, Inc. v. Iancu, No. 2017-1357 (January 23, 2019). The Federal Circuit held that the USPTO cannot count as applicant delay any period of time during which there was no possible action that the applicant could take to reasonably conclude prosecution. A sensible ruling, and one the panel explained was entirely consistent with both the PTA statute and Gilead Sciences, Inc. v. Lee, 778 F.3d 1341 (Fed. Cir. 2015). “A period of time including no identifiable efforts that could have been undertaken cannot be ‘equal to’ the period of failure to undertake reasonable efforts under the terms of the statute,” wrote Judge Reyna.

Techniques for Patenting Blockchain in Europe, the United States, China and Japan

Patentability of Blockchain is a hot topic primarily because of the tremendous expectations around this emerging, disruptive and promising technology. On December 5, 2018, the European Patent Office (EPO) held an International Conference on Patenting Blockchain at The Hague to explore this topic in detail.

Practitioners who work on patent applications or clearance advice in this field should be careful in the choice of keywords for prior art searches and should be aware of what kind of patent they are seeking: core technology (with possible risks of a pure algorithm objection), applied technology, and virtual currency claim (which is excluded in China).

Exclusive: A Conversation on Self Driving Vehicles at the EPO with Roberta Romano-Götsch

During our previous interview Ms.Romano-Götsch mentioned that the EPO would be soon releasing a study on self driving vehicles. I expressed interest in speaking with her again once that study was published, and she agreed. Our conversation discussing this EPO study follows. In this wide-ranging conversation we discuss how traditional auto companies and big tech companies are both competing in the self driving space, and how the EPO is seeing an increase in applications from SMEs as well. We also discuss how the political climate in Europe surrounding a push for greater fuel efficiency and environmental concerns are a driving force behind autonomous driving initiatives across Europe.

Europe sees sharp rise in patent applications for self-driving vehicles

From 2011 to 2017, patent applications at the EPO for automated driving increased by 330%, compared to 16% across all technologies in the same period, according to the study, titled “Patents and self-driving vehicles”. And in the past ten years, the EPO received some 18 000 patent applications related to self-driving vehicles, with nearly 4,000 in 2017 alone. The study also shows that half of the top 25 companies active in this field at the EPO, including the top four applicants, are not traditional automotive/transport companies, but information, communication and technology (ICT) firms.

EPO Publishes Revised Guidelines on Computer-implemented inventions

The European Patent Office Guidelines 2018 were recently published on the European Patent Office (EPO) website. All substantial changes in the new Guidelines relate mainly to sections discussing the First Hurdle, the EPO equivalent to patent eligibility. Although the First Hurdle can be overcome simply by adding the presence of a computer, the number, quality of and relationship between technical features are essential in dealing with the Second Hurdle, or inventive step. A thorough analysis of whether each claimed feature is technical, or not, is essential to claim drafting and prosecution of a computer-implemented invention at the European Patent Office and many also believe may help assessing eligibility and patentability before the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Thus, U.S. patent practitioners working with Computer-implemented inventions (CII) would do well to review the new EPO 2018 Guidelines.

A Masterclass in Opposition

Ever wondered what really happens in an EPO Opposition hearing? Now is your chance to see – from the comfort of the Hilton Garden Inn, Palo Alto! Join Alan MacDougall, co-author of IP Management Handbook, “Opposition at the European Patent Office” and world leading IP strategist, Ilya Kazi, both partners from Legal 500 top tier IP firm, Mathys & Squire,…

Exclusive with Roberta Romano-Götsch, Chief Operating Officer of Mobility and Mechatronics at EPO

I recently had the opportunity to go on the record with Roberta Romano-Götsch, the chief operating officer of Mobility and Mechatronics at the European Patent Office (EPO). In a wide ranging, two-part interview we discussed the new technology areas at the EPO, autonomous driving, engineering education, examiner training, what quality means to the EPO and more.

12 Questions with Karin Seegert, COO Healthcare, Biotechnology and Chemistry, EPO

Karin Seegert studied pharmacy and received her PhD from the University of Munich in 1985. Following several years working in R&D in industry, she joined the EPO in 1991. During her time at the EPO, she has worked as Examiner and then beginning in 2002 as Director in the pharmaceutical area and as Director in Patent Administration. In 2010, Karin became Principal Director with responsibility for various technical fields, mainly in Electro Physics and Chemistry, before being appointed as Chief Operating Officer in 2017 she was leading the cluster Technical Chemistry (TeC).

EPO Life Sciences Seminar

The first ever EPO Life Sciences Seminar will be held following the AIPLA Spring Meeting. Attendees will learn about the most recent developments at the EPO including quality, timeliness and how the EPO handles Asian documentation. This plenary session will be supplemented by interactive, break-out workshop sessions in which the patentability of life sciences inventions in the EPO will be discussed. This will include both the legal framework and provide hands-on claim drafting advice. The seminar also holds interest for U.S. practitioners who file in the EPO, whether or not directly involved in life sciences/healthcare.

Inventors inspired by humpback whales make a more efficient wind turbine

Whales show great efficiency, maneuverability and speed for their size and weight. It was this efficiency that fascinated biologist Frank Fish. He suspected the rugged shape of a humpback whale’s flippers, which are lined with irregular bumps known as tubercles, might be responsible for adding extra efficiency… The company introduced the first Tubercle Blade HVLS (high-volume low-speed) fan to the market through a Canadian licensee and this industrial-scale fan is available in 38 countries. These fans offer 20,000 hours of maintenance free operation while consuming energy approximately that of an average household hair drier, and they circulate about 25% more air than similar non-tubercle fans.

Latest European Patent Office (EPO) Annual Report Shows Continued Growth of U.S. Patent Applications in Europe

The European Patent Office announced that U.S. companies and inventors filed 5.8% more patent applications at the European Patent Office (EPO) in 2017 than in the previous year. This follows a decrease in applications in 2016 (-6.1%), which had been a knock-on effect of changes in U.S. patent law introduced in 2013.

António Campinos elected next EPO President

The Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation has elected António Campinos to succeed Benoît Battistelli as President of the European Patent Office (EPO). His five-year term will start on 1 July 2018.