EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

01.03.16

What the European Patent Office (EPO) Looks Like to European SMEs

Posted in Europe, Patents at 10:49 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

European SMEs need to queue up to the right, unlike the well-dressed foreign corporation on the left

Summary: A set of personal experiences which serve to show just how the ‘European’ Patent Office discourages patent applications from actual inventors who are actually European

N

OW that patent neutrality at the EPO is officially dead, there is no room for doubt and plenty of reasons for frustration over the real goals and motivations of the EPO. We moreover wish to present one among many stories that we got from various patent applicants. A lot of European lawyers, including some who represent SMEs and inventors, have complained to us about an agonisingly slow and often discriminatory patent granting process at the EPO. They’re not happy. Several of these stories will be the subject of focus in the coming week. More people all across Europe must recognise this problem in order for it to ever be tackled. We humbly hope that raising several key points — should they be laid out publicly (including to EPO examiners, many of whom read Techrights) — will help necessary changes take place. It’s well overdue and public awareness is belated (by nearly a decade).

“It takes a very long to be granted a simple patent (already enshrined and accepted as patentable in the national patent office).”“I think my experience would represent all that is wrong with judge and jury EPO,” told us one person who had applied for a patent. ” It is clearly a complicated and difficult area to get people to follow.”

We have gone through a lot of texts related to this case and have identified several points of relevance to our past coverage of the whole EPO fiasco. Among them:

  1. Lack of communication with small(er) applicants. Readers can still see the internal document which we published some months ago, a document titled “Closer Contact with Major Applicants”.
  2. It takes a very long to be granted a simple patent (already enshrined and accepted as patentable in the national patent office). This indirectly relates to (1) and it’s not surprising that when large corporations with thousands of applications receive a ‘fast lane’ other people are left stuck in ever-broadening/lengthening queues. Some people reported to us in Twitter that applications took over a decade to be processed (even initial contact)!
  3. The cost of the process and the incentive to file (apply) is diminished by structural deficiencies that the management of the EPO can be held accountable for.

We have several examples of this and have spoken to numerous parties (both applicants and their lawyers) to ascertain the legitimacy of their accusations against the EPO. To quote some of the relevant bits: “I have already been granted a patent on this invention. Theoretically securing a European patent should have been straight forward.”

“The cost of the process and the incentive to file (apply) is diminished by structural deficiencies that the management of the EPO can be held accountable for.”There seems to be no eagerness to accept applications (almost) in bulk, as in the case of “Major Applicants” (see aforementioned document). “The primary examiner repeatedly (and with the benefit of hindsight wrongly) rejected my application for circa 4 years,” one source told us. Imagine the nuisance to the applicant. In this one particular example, on the “first one-day oral hearing with a panel of examiners it was agreed that my invention was both novel and inventive and could be patented” (in other words, the original, repeated determination was wrong). But this wasn’t the end of that. “It was agreed at the end of the first oral hearing,” we have learned, “that I could review for any omissions and look to add dependent claims. It was agreed that this could readily be done by E-mail. Since the first oral hearing I have been back in the hands of the primary examiner and the same pattern of delay and rejection has ensued. Once you have addressed the examiners concerns all he does is go away and invent new reasons for not granting. You provide markups with the hope of getting to an agreement but he does not comment on each point so you don’t know which bits are acceptable or not. I have complained about the delay and the manner in which the examiner has handled my case. The response of the EPO has been a blanket rejection of all complaints. The EPO insisted on holding a second oral hearing despite knowing that it was impossible for me to attend. What was to be achieved from the meeting if I was not going to be there? There have been no telephone conversations with the examining division to try and address issues of the application. Currently the EPO is simultaneously claiming that my invention is and is not inventive over prior art [...] I call this the elephant in the room since this is clearly something that can never happen. [...] Given that the ‘Elephant in the Room’ issue may cause great embarrassment this may explain why the EPO has issued an intention to grant on text that was not agreed, as it gives them the pretext for extinguishing my application and ridding themselves of the issue. [...] The matter has been raised repeatedly with the EPO. It has never been addressed by the examining division.”

This in itself is bad enough, but what happens when communication issues also arise?

“Another noteworthy example alludes to the delay between applications and grants.”One person told us the the EPO doesn’t like to talk with applicants but prefers speaking to lawyers, instead, which then introduces prohibitive costs. We learned about the “EPO’s recommendation that applicants use qualified professional representatives. Despite the fees applicants pay to the EPO for their services it is apparent that the EPO would sooner not deal directly with inventors. The economic reality of non-corporate inventors seems wholly lost on the EPO. For the record I did use a patent attorney [...] until funds ran out. This highly competent attorney clearly had no greater success in dealing with the EPO than I. Informally the lawyer has provided pro bono advice since.”

Another noteworthy example alludes to the delay between applications and grants. “On a simple time apportionment basis,” old us one person, “given the mere 20 year protection the current EPO delays represents a loss of 30%. After an appeal process this will be 50%. In reality there reaches a stage when it ceases to be sensible to proceed so this delay could amount to 100% loss.”

If it can take a whole decade to be granted a patent, where’s the incentive to file? Even if claimed damages can go back to the time of initial application, who’s to say that the patenter or the infringer/s won’t have gone bankrupt by then?

“It is not hard to see how companies such as Microsoft, with a whole legion of lawyers in each country, benefits from such a setup, whereas small European inventors are left only with the illusion that the EPO is looking after their interests.”Other issues include E-mail communication. “When an E-mail can be used,” we’ve been told, it can “seems very confusing.” One person inside the Organisation “claims that the EPO treats E-mails as not received [but later] he claims that E-mails cannot be ignored. [...] the position on E-mails now seems in part governed by security and time limits. On the position of security I would have thought this a matter for the applicant to decide; as regards time limits I would have thought the only sensitivity on this point relates to the filing of the original application. My experience is that the acceptance of E-mails or not is a means of exerting control over the applicant. It is clearly nonsense to resend a document by post that the EPO acknowledges they already have as an E-mail. The prohibition of using E-mails clearly adds cost and delay.”

It is not hard to see how companies such as Microsoft, with a whole legion of lawyers in each country, benefits from such a setup, whereas small European inventors are left only with the illusion that the EPO is looking after their interests.

The EPO is broken and change is desperately needed because the intended stakeholders (Europeans, not globalists and multinationals) gradually see what they’re really up against.

Share this post: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • co.mments
  • DZone
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • NewsVine
  • Print
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Facebook

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

What Else is New


  1. IAM, Greased up by the EPO, Continues Lobbying by Shaming Tactics for the UPC, Under the Guise of 'News'

    The shrill and well-paid writers of IAM are still at it, promoting the Unitary Patent (UPC) at every opportunity and every turn



  2. Patent Scope Gone Awry: European Vegetable Patents Office?

    In its misguided race to raise so-called 'production', the EPO lost sight of its original goals and now facilitates patent royalty payments/taxation for naturally-recurring items of nature



  3. Yes, There is Definitely Brain Drain (Experience Deficit) at the European Patent Office and Stakeholders Feel It

    The direction that the European Patent Office has taken under Battistelli undoes many decades (almost half a century) of reputation-building and progress and naturally this repels existing staff, not to mention hampers recruitment efforts



  4. The Sickness of the EPO – Part IV: Cruel Management That Deliberately Attacks the Sick and the Weak

    The dysphoric reality at the European Patent Office, which is becoming like a large cell (with bolted-down windows) where people are controlled by fear and scapegoats are selected to perpetuate this atmosphere of terror and maintain demand (or workload) for the Investigative Stasi



  5. Links 23/2/2017: Qt 5.9 Alpha, First SHA1 Collision

    Links for the day



  6. UPC Roundup: War on the Appeal Boards, British Motion Against the UPC, Fröhlinger Recalled, and Fake News About Spain

    Taking stock of some of the latest attempts to shove the Unitary Patent (UPC) down Europe's throat, courtesy of Team Battistelli and Team UPC



  7. The Sickness of the EPO – Part III: Invalidity and Suicides

    An explanation of what drives a lot of EPO veterans to depression and sometimes even suicide



  8. The Appeal Board (PTAB) and Federal Circuit (CAFC) Maintain Good Pace of Patent Elimination Where Scope Was Exceeded

    The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) continues to accept about 4 out of 5 decisions of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) and the US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) refuses to intervene



  9. Software Patents Are Ebbing Away, But the “Swamp” Fights Back and Hijacks the Word “Fix”

    The club of patent maximalists, or those who profit from excess prosecution and legal chaos, isn't liking what has happened in the United States and it wants everything reversed



  10. Report From Yesterday's Debate About the European Patent Office (EPO) at the Bavarian Landtag

    A report of the EPO debate which took place at the Bavarian Landtag yesterday (21/2/2017)



  11. Links 22/2/2017: Wine-Staging 2.2, Nautilus 3.24

    Links for the day



  12. French Politician Richard Yung Tells the Government About Abuses at the European Patent Office (EPO)

    The subject of EPO scandals has once again landed in French politics, just a couple of months since it last happened



  13. The Sickness of the EPO – Part II: Background Information and Insights

    With a privatised, in-house (sometimes outsourced and for-profit) force for surveillance, policing, justice, public relations and now medical assessment (mere vassals or marionettes of the management) the EPO serves to show that it has become indistinguishable from North Korea, where the Supreme Leader gets to control every single aspect (absolutely no separation of powers)



  14. EPO Cartoon/Caricature by KrewinkelKrijst

    A new rendition by Dutch cartoonist and illustrator KrewinkelKrijst



  15. Inverting Narratives: IAM 'Magazine' Paints Massive Patent Bully Microsoft (Preying on the Weak) as a Defender of the Powerless

    Selective coverage and deliberate misinterpretation of Microsoft's tactics (patent settlement under threat, disguised as "pre-installation of some of the US company’s software products") as seen in IAM almost every week these days



  16. The Sickness of the EPO – Part I: Motivation for New Series of Articles

    An introduction or prelude to a long series of upcoming posts, whose purpose is to show governance by coercion, pressure, retribution and tribalism rather than professional relationship between human beings at the European Patent Office (EPO)



  17. Insensitivity at the EPO’s Management – Part VII: EPO Hypocrisy on Cancer and Lack of Feedback to and From ECPC

    The European Cancer Patient Coalition (ECPC), which calls itself "the largest European cancer patients' umbrella organisation," fails to fulfill its duties, says a source of ours, and the EPO makes things even worse



  18. Links 21/2/2017: KDE Plasma 5.9.2 in Chakra GNU/Linux, pfSense 2.3.3

    Links for the day



  19. EPO Caricature: Battistelli's Wall

    Battistelli's solution to everything at the EPO is exclusion and barriers



  20. The 'New' Microsoft is Still Acting Like a Dangerous Cult in an Effort to Hijack and/or Undermine All Free/Open Source Software

    In an effort to combat any large deployment of non-Microsoft software, the company goes personal and attempts to overthrow even management that is not receptive to Microsoft's agenda



  21. PTAB Petitioned to Help Against Patent Troll InfoGation Corp., Which Goes After Linux/Android OEMs in China

    A new example of software patents against Free software, or trolls against companies that are distributing freedom-respecting software from a country where these patents are not even potent (they don't exist there)



  22. Links 20/2/2017: Linux 4.10, LineageOS Milestone

    Links for the day



  23. No, Doing Mathematical Operations on a Processor Does Not Make Algorithms Patent-Eligible

    Old and familiar tricks -- a method for tricking examiners into the idea that algorithms are actual machines -- are being peddled by Watchtroll again



  24. Paid-for UPC Proponent, IAM 'Magazine', Debunked on UPC Again

    The impact of the corrupted (by EPO money) media goes further than one might expect and even 'borrows' out-of-date news in order to promote the UPC



  25. Lack of Justice in and Around the EPO Drawing Scrutiny

    The status of the EPO as an entity above the law (in Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland and so on) is becoming the subject of press reports and staff is leaving in large numbers



  26. Links 19/2/2017: GParted 0.28.1, LibreOffice Donations Record

    Links for the day



  27. The EPO is Becoming an Embarrassment to Europe and a Growing Threat to the European Union

    The increasingly pathetic moves by Battistelli and the ever-declining image/status of the EPO (only 0% of polled stakeholders approve Battistelli's management) is causing damage to the reputation of the European Union, even if the EPO is not a European Union organ but an international one



  28. Patent Misconceptions Promoted by the Patent Meta-Industry

    Cherry-picking one's way into the perception of patent eligibility for software and the misguided belief that without patents there will be no innovation



  29. As the United States Shuts Its Door on Low-Quality Patents the Patent Trolls Move to Asia

    Disintegration of Intellectual Ventures (further shrinkage after losing software patents at CAFC), China's massive patent bubble, and Singapore's implicit invitation/facilitation of patent trolls (bubble economy)



  30. Links 17/2/2017: Wine 2.2, New Ubuntu LTS

    Links for the day


CoPilotCo

RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

CoPilotCo

Recent Posts