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12.12.15

New Private Eye Article Says EPO “Doesn’t Actually Deny That There’s a Fast-Track Project Allowing Big Firms to Queue-Jump”

Posted in Europe, Patents at 3:00 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: The EPO’s favouritism-related issues are becoming mainstream news even in the UK’s most respected papers

YESTERDAY we got many photographs of the Private Eye article about the EPO. We even got a third photograph [PDF] and a fourth person supplied the text.

“I ran the photo through OCR software,” a regular reader told us. “After some contrast and trapezoid corrections the result was quite good, and needed only corrections for the part near the crease that couldn’t be corrected.”

“I should file a software patent for crease compensation software,” the reader added sarcastically.

Here is the text of the article:

PATENT-LY ABSURD

PATENT officers took to the streets of Europe again last week with protests in Munich and The Hague at the treatment of the elected staff union representatives who have been suspended by bosses.

Earlier this year a Dutch court ruled that the European Patent Office (EPO) was violating the fundamental rights of its own staff, but as a supra-national organisation (run by the European Patent Organisation, a separate-treaty organisation from the EU) the EPO claims immunity from national employment law.

Meanwhile, the EPO has exercised its bullying tactics on the UK-based blogger who uncovered the email detailing how the organisation planned to fast-track a backlog of patent applications by a small group of very large (and mainly non-European) companies, including Microsoft (see Eye 1404).

Dr Roy Schestowitz, a software engineer who writes the Techrights blog, said the EPO’s lawyers contacted him just before midnight on a Friday evening, threatening to issue legal proceedings unless he removed the post, apologised and agreed “to pay our clients damages (in a sum be agreed)”. They set a deadline of noon on the Monday for him to comply, leaving almost no time to find a lawyer but a whole weekend to worry.

Dr Schestowitz is now being represented bv David Allen Green of Preiskel & Co and has not apologised or paid out. He has taken down the specific post that caused the complaint, but he has posted lots more criticism of the EPO since, as have newspapers in several European countries.

While Dr Schestowitz’s blog was stridently critical of EPO. the patent office doesn’t actually deny that there’s a fast-track project allowing big firms to queue-jump. It insists this is the only way to avoid even worse delays for smaller players in the market, since Microsoft et al could take action to force the EPO to prioritise even more of the hundreds of applications they have queued up.

The EPO is clearly worried about blogs. Based on its own documents, it is afraid not only of Techrights (mentioned several times) but also of Florian Müller.

Florian Müller has just received recognition in “World’s Best IP Blogs”. According to this, “FOSS Patents is a blog that covers software Patent news and issues in general and focuses particularly on wireless, mobile devices like Smartphones and tablet computers.”

We are going to write a great deal about the EPO this weekend in order to cope with the growing backlog. We publish as fast as we receive new material and the frequency of publication depends on the frequency of input (which has only accelerated after the EPO attacked us).

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