Intellectual property rumour and misinformation against the background of a conspiracy theory

Intellectual property rumour and misinformation against the background of a conspiracy theory

The international patent application WO 2020/060606: intellectual property rumour and misinformation against the background of a conspiracy theory.

From the beginning of the epidemic, around February and March 2020 in Europe, a multitude of theories flourished on social networks that tried to explain the origins of the situation in which humanity suddenly found itself. Some talked about exotic animals from cattle markets, others about ultra-secure laboratories, while others, fairly quickly, tried to establish links that were incongruous to say the least and, by repeating a mechanical discourse dating back to distant ages that one would have thought were over, hastened to alert the population by all available means of communication about “major discoveries” they had made and which, according to them, “undoubtedly proved the existence of a vast conspiracy”. And among these “major discoveries” to be shared as widely as possible, without being able to really identify the source of the rumour, some people thought it was clever to base their conspiracy theories on International Application WO 2020/060606 A1 in order to come up with arguments that were most often wrong.

Among the wild imaginings – so that the reader can fully understand the scope of the problem – some people suggested that the patent application provided undeniable proof that Microsoft, and therefore its most famous owner, who needs no introduction, had patented, as a matter of urgency, no less than the technology that would make it possible to begin the enslavement of humanity (sic)… As proof of this, it was necessary first of all to “judiciously” note the application publication number and, of course, to find in it the “obvious” presence of the number of the beast. We will not offer any explanation here of this number, our intention being in no way to call into question the deep-held beliefs that everyone is free to hold. Rather, we are inclined to think that it was coincidence, which can occur in the context of an automated numbering process of published applications without having any theological meaning.

On the other hand, we are happy to take a stand on the first and most common mistake that was made, which was to consider that a patent and a patent application confer the same rights. No need to explain here to our regular readers why this is not the case. For the others, whom we will be happy to see more regularly, just know that a patent application, and even more so, an international patent application such as the one we are talking about, confers almost no rights at all. Indeed, in order for this international patent application to confer rights, in this case to become a patent, it must follow a multitude of procedures. And none of these procedures ensures a priori that a patent will be granted. In other words, no, this document does not prove that Bill Gates holds a patent on the enslavement of humanity…. It only proves that Microsoft is thinking about how to implement an interaction between cryptocurrency and humans and, moreover, that it is also willing to find out, in a way that is fairly standard for an innovative company, whether it is possible to obtain a patent that would protect a technical achievement that allows this interaction. That’s all. No more, no less.

What’s more, yet another mistake that has been repeatedly made is that of confusing the concepts of the date of filing and the date of publication, and of ignoring the notion of priority right. To cut a long story short, no, the application was not filed at the very beginning of the epidemic in March 2020. It was published on that date but it was filed on 20 June 2019, well before the first known signs of the epidemic in China. In addition, the application was filed under the priority of a US application which was filed on 21 September 2018, approximately one and a half years before the first-known signs of the epidemic in China. And, as we know, the technical content of a priority application and that of a subsequent application under that priority are supposed to be identical. De facto, Microsoft was already thinking about the above-mentioned subject at the end of 2018. Q.E.D!

And, for the more intrepid, go and read the application, including the detailed description. Think about the scope of the protection. What is the “sensor” referred to in paragraph [0026]? A nanotechnology vaccine or a connected watch? Above all, ask yourself: Will Microsoft finally get a patent on such technical content? For our part, to answer this question, it seems to us that, for the time being, it is urgent to stop feeding the most far-fetched theories and to wait instead for the research reports that will be issued in each of the jurisdictions in which this patent application is filed. It is only on the basis of these elements that we can estimate Microsoft’s chances of obtaining patents and, if necessary, that we will be able to consider the possibilities that exist for circumventing a protection that will undoubtedly end up being far removed from what we could have imagined.

Thomas Rossier – European Patent Attorney