The European Patent Office (EPO) opposition division has narrowed Afilias Technologies Plc’s device detection patent EP2245836B1 in Europe, as a result of an opposition brought by rival firm 51Degrees. The EPO concluded that the patent as initially granted was not valid.
The EPO’s decision confirms that Afilias’ patent was a trivial variation of WURFL - a previously open and widely used device detection solution – when combined with a computing technique first described in the 1960s. Created in the last decade, both DeviceAtlas and WURFL were launched prior to the explosion in device variations and combinations which followed the release of the Apple iPhone and mass adoption of Android. Such patents stifle innovation and competition.
The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) forced Afilias to significantly narrow a counterpart patent application US9185182B2 prior to grant in 2015. Another counterpart US patent application US20160070796 received a final rejection in March 2019.
In short these patents have been narrowed so much as to be worthless, or rejected. As such Afilias’ DeviceAtlas customers no longer benefit from the patent protection or inventive solution they were promised. 51Degrees is the only device detection vendor to continuously innovate throughout this decade achieving granted and meaningful patents in both the US and Europe.
Commenting on the decision, 51Degrees CEO and Founder James Rosewell said “This decision confirms my belief that DeviceAtlas is an obvious adaption of WURFL and is not as innovative as Afilias claims. It also means any innuendo from Afilias casting doubt on 51Degrees’ innovative technology is entirely without substance.The EPO’s decision exposes Afilias’ bogus technology claims and settles the matter until the inevitable appeal. Their customers, bankers and investors should take heed.”
Mr Rosewell first wrote about this opposition in a blog post in November 2017.