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. The Patent Microcosm, Patent Trolls and Their Pressure Groups Incite a USPTO Director Against the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) and Section 101/Alice

    As one might expect, the patent extremists continue their witch-hunt and constant manipulation of USPTO officials, whom they hope to compel to become patent extremists themselves (otherwise those officials are defamed, typically until they're fired or decide to resign)



  2. Microsoft's Lobbying for FRAND Pays Off as Microsoft-Connected Patent Troll Conversant (Formerly MOSAID) Goes After Android OEMs in Europe

    The FRAND (or SEP) lobby seems to have caused a lot of monopolistic patent lawsuits; this mostly affects Linux-powered platforms such as Android, Tizen and webOS and there are new legal actions from Microsoft-connected patent trolls



  3. To Understand Why People Say That Lawyers are Liars Look No Further Than Misleading Promotion of Software Patents

    Some of the latest misleading claims from the patent microcosm, which is only interested in lots and lots of patents (its bread and butter is monopolies after all) irrespective of their merit, quality, and desirability



  4. When News About the EPO is Dominated by Sponsored 'Reports' and Press Releases Because Publishers Are Afraid of (or Bribed by) the EPO

    The lack of curiosity and genuine journalism in Europe may mean that serious abuses (if not corruption) will go unreported



  5. The Boards of Appeal at the European Patent Organisation (EPO) Complain That They Are Understaffed, Not Just Lacking the Independence They Depend on

    The Boards of Appeal have released a report and once again they openly complain that they're unable to do their job properly, i.e. patent quality cannot be assured



  6. Links 18/4/2018: New Fedora 27 ISOs, Nextcloud Wins German Government Contract

    Links for the day



  7. Guest Post: Responding to Your Recent Posting “The European Patent Office Will Never Hold Its Destroyers Accountable”

    In France, where Battistelli does not enjoy diplomatic immunity, he can be held accountable like his "padrone" recently was



  8. The EPO in 2018: Partnering With Saudi Arabia and Cambodia (With Zero European Patents)

    The EPO's status in the world has declined to the point where former French colonies and countries with zero European Patents are hailed as "success stories" for Battistelli



  9. For Samsung and Apple the Biggest Threat Has Become Patent Trolls and Aggressors in China and the Eastern District of Texas, Not Each Other

    The latest stories about two of the world's largest phone OEMs, both of which find themselves subjected to a heavy barrage of patent lawsuits and even embargoes; Samsung has meanwhile obtained an antisuit injunction against Huawei



  10. The EPO Continues to Lie About Patent Quality Whilst Openly Promoting Software Patents, Even Outside Europe

    EPO patent quality continues to sink while EPO management lies about it and software patents are openly being promoted/advocatedEPO patent quality continues to sink while EPO management lies about it (the article above is new) and software patents are openly being promoted/advocated



  11. SCOTUS on WesternGeco v Ion Geophysical Almost Done; Will Oil States Decision Affirm the PTAB's Quality Assurance (IPRs) Soon?

    Ahead of WesternGeco and Oil States, following oral proceedings, it's expected that the highest court in the United States will deliver more blows to patent maximalism



  12. Links 17/4/2018: Linux 5.x Plans and Microsoft's 'Embrace'

    Links for the day



  13. The European Patent Office (EPO) Grants Patents in Error, Insiders Are Complaining That It's the Management's Fault

    The EPO has languished to the point where patents are granted in error, examiners aren't happy, and the resultant chaos benefits no-one but lawyers and patent trolls



  14. The European Patent Office Will Never Hold Its Destroyers Accountable

    With only one in seven EPO stakeholders believing that Battistelli's pick (António Campinos) will turn things around for the better, it certainly does not seem like people are happy and there's no real hope that Battistelli will ever be held accountable for his abuses after his immunity expires



  15. With Liars Like These...

    The European Patent Office continues to lie about the Unified Patent Court (UPC) amongst other things, still revealing its reluctance to say anything which is truthful or work to repair the damage caused by Benoît Battistelli



  16. Links 16/4/2018: Linux 4.17 RC 1, Mesa 18.0.1 RC, GNOME 3.28.1

    Links for the day



  17. IAM, Patently-O and Watchtroll (the Patent Trolls' Lobby) Try to Stop Patent Oppositions/Petitions (PTAB)

    In spite of fee hikes, introduced by Iancu's interim predecessor, petitions (IPRs) at the PTAB continue to grow in number and the patent maximalists are losing their minds over it



  18. The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) is Ending Software Patents One Patent at a Time

    At an accelerating pace and with growing determination, PTAB (part of AIA) crushes patent trolls and software patents; the statistics and latest stories speak for themselves



  19. Academics and Think Tanks for Patent Maximalism

    Right-wing think tanks and impressionable academics continue to lobby for patent maximalism, rarely revealing the funding sources and motivations; in reality, however, such maximalism mainly helps large (already-wealthy) corporations, monopolists, and law firms



  20. Killing Patent Quality and Encouraging 'Covert' Software Patents Using the Buzzwords Du Jour

    The epidemic of buzzwords and/or hype waves that are being exploited to dodge or bypass patent scope/limitations, as seen in Europe and the US these days



  21. Crisis of Quality at the EPO Extends to Staff (Notably Examiners) and Management as Institutional Integrity is Severely Compromised

    A rather pessimistic but likely realistic outlook for the European Patent Office (EPO), which seems unable to attract the sort of staff it attracted for a number of decades



  22. The 'Blockchaining' of Software Patents (to Dodge the Rules/Guidelines) Now Coming to Europe

    A lot of software patents are being declared invalid (or not granted in the first place); having said that, using all sorts of hype waves (like calling databases “blockchains”) firms and individuals manage to still be granted software patents and sometimes patent trolls hoard these



  23. Links 14/4/2018: Wine 3.6, KDE Elisa 0.1

    Links for the day



  24. East Asia Should Have Adopted the Patent Strategy of South Asia, Notably India

    China seems to be so interested in patent maximalism that it has lost sight of the effect on foreign investment, e.g. US/European/Taiwanese/Japanese/Korean firms operating/manufacturing in mainland China



  25. Samsung is the 'New IBM', Sans the Trolling With Patents

    The 'relic' company, IBM, loses its patent leadership (as measured using some yardstick) to Samsung, a company which is relatively calm when it comes to patent activity (unless/only when sued, as happens a lot nowadays)



  26. David Barcelou May or May Not be a Patent Troll, But He is Certainly a SLAPPing Bully and Watchtroll is Fine With It

    Like a thin-skinned person/entity (which many in the patent microcosm are), David Barcelou and Automated Transactions (“ATL”) SLAPP their critics and surprisingly enough it's Watchtroll, who has been threatened by WIPO, coming to the bully's rescue (double standards)



  27. Links 12/4/2018: Stable New Kernels, Neptune 5.1

    Links for the day



  28. The USPTO Has a Nepotism and Lobbying Problem That Jeopardises the Rationality of US Patent Law

    The influence games of Washington are spilling over to the US patent office and poisoning/harming its ability to conduct professional operations without corporate influence (from either side, both corporations and law firms)



  29. Patent Trolls in the United States Show the Importance of Stopping Software Patents (Trolls' Favourite) Worldwide

    The abundance of entities that exist for no purpose other than to initiate lawsuits is a contagious threat to real innovation (or science and technology being practiced); a new jury verdict (record-breaking $500,000,000) is a reminder of this



  30. Links 11/4/2018: Linux 3.18.104, ReactOS 0.4.8 Release

    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