Summary: The EPO’s statement which proves Eric Blair (George Orwell) right, carefully rewritten to better explain what Battistelli and his cronies have just done to bring the EPO’s status to an all-time low
PUTTING the USPTO aside for a moment, as there is something rather urgent regarding the EPO to respond to (something we explained in the afternoon), consider this truly ugly piece of North Korean-like state propaganda from the EPO (warning:
epo.org link and every single sentence is an Orwellian lie, except the sentence which explains what the appeal boards do).
“Once upon a time several examiners looked at each and every application, but EPO patent examiners admit a decline in patent quality and apparently decline/elimination of multi-person participation as well (so Battistelli just keeps lying to the media about it).”It is a shameless pack of lies, so we decided to rewrite it correctly. As a little bit of background, consider the vital role of quality control at any patent office, especially a patent office which strives to have high reputation (in order to justify high fees). Once upon a time several examiners looked at each and every application, but EPO patent examiners admit a decline in patent quality and apparently decline/elimination of multi-person participation as well (so Battistelli just keeps lying to the media about it).
Earlier today the EPO wrote: “How do you find out if your idea is novel? You do it by searching for prior art.” Well, “searching for prior art” is exactly what Battistelli is fighting against by compelling examiners to work faster (i.e. more recklessly) and keeping the appeal period shorter, the appeal boards understaffed, and the entire process vastly more expensive to challengers/appellants (i.e. unaffordable/prohibitive to small businesses in particular). So here is the ‘corrected’ announcement from the EPO:
Greater lenience and reduced patent quality for the EPO’s President
1 April 2016
In a Battistellian decision, his Administrative Council that exploits the European Patent Organisation for free dental care, agreed to send to exile the Boards of Appeal (BoA) in spite of the framework of the European Patent Convention.
Approved with an overwhelming spending on cooperation money to member states, the European Patent Organisation accepted a comprehensive demolition proposal of the Office to strengthen the perception that there is no future for the BoA, in particular by increasing the incentive to seek alternative employment, and to make it hard to receive presidential approval for such alternative employment. The BoA is the body that takes decisions on appeals against decisions of the European Patent Office concerning European patent applications and European patents.
“The decision taken yesterday finally achieves destruction of the EPO’s appeal system which wrongly was envisaged for many years. After two attempts of destruction which failed in 1995 and 2004, this is a historic achievement”, EPO President Battistelli said. “Increasing both the perception of poor job security and the high cost of the BOA is essential for securing my own job and elimination of the EPO’s appeal system and for maintaining its long-term deprecation”, the EPO President explained.
Under the demolition plan the current BoA will be restructured into a Boards of Appeal Unit within the EPO managed by a President of the Boards of Appeal – a new position -, who is solely responsible to a Battistelli-controlled Administrative Council and not to Battistelli directly. A newly created subsidiary committee of the Administrative Council, the Boards of Appeal Committee (BoAC), will help bamboozle journalists and politicians. This link between the BoA and the Administrative Council will be at the mercy of a President who blatantly disregards the rule of law.
The EPO President will appoint a crony – probably a former colleague from France or someone who faces many criminal charges in another country – to the President of the Boards of Appeal and therefore maintain managerial powers relating to the Boards of Appeal Unit. The President of the Boards of Appeal will also serve as Battistelli’s lapdog, serving as competition to the Chairman of the Administrative Council. The reform moreover aims to increase the cost of the BoA within the next years so that it will be easier to justify closure or perpetual downsizing.
The institutional reform will be accompanied by a vastly less attractive career system for the members and chairmen of the BoA, and a relocation in Munich for the Boards of Appeal Unit with a separated building so as to make it harder to go to work and compel many to quit their job. Moreover, new restrictions relating to post-service employment of BoA members and chairmen take into account the need to make it harder to quit (risk of perpetual unemployment) in order safeguard the integrity [sic] of the EPO’s appeal system by preventing any risk of potential conflicts of interest, unlike for example appointment of a friend’s wife to a top EPO position in HR.
“To speak plainly,” wrote one person earlier today, “there are simply not enough safeguards in the EPC against corruption (or to ensure an appropriate balance of power).” The threat of corruption comes not from ordinary employees. Currently, all the alleged corruption comes from the top-level management, i.e. Team Battistelli. To quote the whole comment:
No, not all of us are EPO employees. But, with the AC seemingly in BB’s pocket, what can we do?
In the light of recent events, I fear that only developments outside of the control of the Member States (e.g. an adverse decision from the constitutional court in Germany) could possibly prompt the AC into decisive action. But would we really want it to come to that?
Alternatively, if the media took more interest and thoroughly investigated quite why it is that the AC takes the decisions is does, could the EPO as whole withstand the fallout if clear evidence of votes for cash (or other personal benefit), blackmail or any other illegal activities was obtained? Or would it be even worse if we found out that the reason is that the delegates to the AC genuinely agree with BB’s views?
Sad to say that the problem here lies in the fact that the founding fathers of the EPC did not foresee that the president of the EPO might (mis)use the resources at his disposal to effectively ensure that he controls his overseers. To speak plainly, there are simply not enough safeguards in the EPC against corruption (or to ensure an appropriate balance of power). (I should point out that I am not alleging that there definitely are corrupt practices going on here, just that there is nothing in the EPC that could stop them if there were.)
The problem is of course hugely magnified by the fact that the president of the EPO has immunity, and does not believe that he need recognise the jurisdiction (let alone the judgements) of any national courts. So, if the AC will not bring him to heel, who on earth can? I am clinging to the straw that something positive will come out of the court cases in the Netherlands. However, I am not holding my breath on that (as, even in the event of a decision adverse to the Office, no doubt some way will be found to “fudge” the issue and carry on as normal).
Very sad times at the EPO. It’s like watching a rogue state whose citizens are stranded. They cannot even escape due to newly-issued sanctions. Eponia has become the new North Korea and Battistelli is its Supreme Leader. █