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

07.05.16

Decline of Patent Quality at the EPO to Further Exacerbate With Latest Crackdown on Appeal Boards

Posted in Europe, Patents at 3:58 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Highest quality is lowest cost
Reference: Highest quality is lowest cost

Summary: Rather than emphasise and maintain quality control at the European Patent Office, the Battistellites seek to maximise the number of granted patents and rely on false claims

THE PATENT quality (not so-called ‘production’) at the EPO used to be the pride of Europe. Growing up in Europe, many people learned about famous European patent examiners such as Albert Einstein (pre-EPO era). Some of the strongest companies worked hard and paid a lot of money in an effort to be granted European patents (EPs), which were quite reputable around the world. Some of the brightest scientists examined applications in tandem/parallel and determined whether or not an innovation or claimed invention was indeed novel and would have courts agree upon challenge (high certainty of eligibility, quality, and novelty). These are the “good ol’ days” of the EPO.

“Some of the strongest companies worked hard and paid a lot of money in an effort to be granted European patents (EPs), which were quite reputable around the world.”Based on this evening’s (GMT) press release, errors in examination continue to be found. An alternative headline for the “news release” [sic] would be: “EPO erroneously granted a patent again. Reinforcing claims of decline in examination quality.”

Not too long ago somebody sent us an insider’s account regarding patent “production”, ECfS (Early Certainty from Search), Priority 1 (in the queue), the so-called “Paris criteria” and more. It helps confirm what we have been writing here for months if not years, namely that there is a massive decline in patent quality the and this gets more irreversible the longer Battistelli stays. To quote:

Once upon a time, EPO examiners were largely free to organize their own work. It was clear that EPC and PCT time limits were to be observed and that replies should not be laying waiting for years, but otherwise things were left to the good judgment of the examiner. That has changed dramatically. Now each examiner has an electronic cupboard in which files are arranged following some obscure algorithm and deviation from the strict order foreseen is considered a crime to be punished with a bad note for quality. Last year the priorities were apparently mainly set according to the “Early Certainty from Search” program. Apparently this year reaching the “Paris criteria” has been added as a new objective. There are further constraints on the examiner and some of those may clash. There is e.g. the total number of “products” to be achieved in a year and the ratio of searches and examinations to be maintained – all this in a situation that is not necessarily under the examiner’s control. In technical areas with a low search backlog maintaining the “ideal” search / examination ratio may not be possible, and total production is equally likely to suffer.

Last night we showed that Team Battistelli (the HR wing) lies about recruitment. It is making up for lack of quality (of examination) by throwing more unqualified or inexperienced examiners at the task, paying them less and offering them fewer incentives to do a good job. “Workforce planning,” as an insider put it, seems to involve “lowering recruitment standards” and “5-year contracts for examiners have also been considered, to be renewed only once” (damaging to work security and experience).

According to the following, “face-to-face technical interviews done by DG1 have recently been replaced by Skype interviews” (here again EPO administration sucks up to Microsoft with spyware endorsement). To quote the broader version of this insider account:

In a recent DG1 internal message, PD11 has asked staff to help the Office recruit more examiners in order to create the over-capacity in DG1 needed to work off the backlog and to meet the Paris criteria for search and examination. The question arises as to how the capacity will be brought back to normal once the backlog has melted. We suspect that the preferred option will be through “incentivised” retirement of senior examiners considered too expensive – incentivised through pressure and threat. The other option will be dismissal for professional incompetence. To facilitate the process of firing unwanted staff, the Office has submitted a document to the GCC that would take dismissals for professional incompetence out of the hands of the disciplinary committee and make it a “managerial decision” by the President after receipt of a majority opinion delivered by a newly-created “Joint Committee”. That cuts two ways: the procedure will become easier and quicker, and the time needed to challenge the decision will double because decisions taken after a disciplinary procedure can be (almost) directly taken to ILO-AT whereas managerial decisions need to go through the Internal Appeals Committee first. Under the circumstances probably not many of our colleagues will be convinced to recruit their friends to the Office. The apparent solution: lowering recruitment standards. The face-to-face technical interviews done by DG1 have recently been replaced by Skype interviews. Only the “psychological” interviews, done by the HR department, are still held in the Office. Apparently DG4 (HR) and not DG1 ultimately decides who will be hired or who will not. This clearly shows the Office’s new priorities, and who is the boss here. 5-year contracts for examiners have also been considered, to be renewed only once. After protests from DG1, DG4 backed off from that plan, but the recent staff changes now list all entrant examiners since 1 May 2016 as “contract staff”. Furthermore, the question remains whether a recruitment process that pays more attention to the psychological – generalist – profile considered desirable by HR than to the technical skills required in DG1 will allow the EPO to maintain the high level of quality that made the Organisation a success.

The ENA mentality of Battistelli would ruin the Office and leave it in an irreparable state. Paying millions of Euros to PR agencies, media companies and silly lobbying events will get harder when applicants become unwilling to pay for low-quality patents. At the same time, Battistelli is biasing if not destroying the appeals process in the name of so-called ‘production’ (measured using a misguided and wrong yardstick which assumes more patents would mean “better”, linearly). Hours ago someone left the following comment about Battistelli’s plan to send appeal judges to ‘exile’ (the EPO lied about it under the banner of "news"). “In summary,” says this person, “I still think that this is bad reform that in many respects decreases the independence of the Boards.”

Here is the full comment:

I referred to the amendments made during the last AC meeting, which, as I understand are those highlighted CA/43/16 Rev.1.

You refer to two points: the drafting of the Rules of Procedure and the involvement of the users in the BOAC.

The first point is dealt with in the new Rule 12c EPC, which, contrary to what you say, does not seem to have been amended at all during the Council.

In respect of your view that the Rules of Procedure would be drafted within the Boards, as present, it seems to be based on a superficial reading of the text.

Old Rule 12(3) EPC said that “The Presidium shall adopt the Rules of Procedure of the Boards…”.
The new Rule 12c says “On a proposal from the President of the Boards of Appeal and after the President of the European Patent Office has been given the opportunity to comment, the Committee set up under paragraph 1 (BOAC) shall adopt the Rules of Procedure of the Boards of Appeal and of the Enlarged Board of Appeal. “ Thus you see that the President of the Boards can only make a proposal but the adoption, i.e. the formulation of the final text, has been moved from the Boards to the BOAC after giving the President of the Office (which was previously not involved at all) the opportunity to comment. That is clearly a step in the direction of less independence.

In respect of the involvement of the users, it is true that the proposal has been amended to say that the BOAC “carry out, where necessary, user consultations on matters of direct concern to users, such as proposals to amend the Rules of Procedure of the Boards of Appeal and of the Enlarged Board of Appeal. “ But given how the opinions voiced by the users in the last consultation have not been into account, that is what I call a cosmetic amendment.

In summary I still think that this is bad reform that in many respects decreases the independence of the Boards. The fact that even worse reforms could and have been proposed is not a good reason for passing a bad reform. The members of the Council were right when they initially rejected it and I wonder on the basis of which deal struck behind closed doors they finally accepted it.

Patent offices live or die (or set their prices) based on demand and based on quality of examination. Unless ENA doctrine is elbowed out of the EPO, prices will have to drop (to maintain a level demand), just like recruitment standards fell, in a desperate effort to fill up the vacuum amid EPO brain drain.

Another fearsome outcome of all this — one which more directly impacts everyone in Europe — is that many low-quality patents would be granted, which would then pass all the costs to externalities like the European public, compelling small businesses which cannot afford going to court to just pay patent aggressors who fooled/tricked inexperienced EPO examiners (those recruited by the likes of Bergot) and faced no opposition from Battistelli-fearing (and understaffed) appeal boards whose cost virtually quadrupled so as to discourage appeals.

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. How the Opposition to CRISPR Patents at the EPO Sent Shockwaves Through the Industry

    Additional reports/coverage on the EPO (European Patent Office) revoking Broad Institute's CRISPR patent show that the issue at hand isn't just one sole patent but the whole class/family of patents



  2. Unified Patents Says That RPX, Which Might Soon be Owned by Patent Trolls, Paid Patent Trolls Hundreds of Millions of Dollars

    Unified Patents, which helps crush software patents, takes note of RPX’s financial statements, which reveal the great extent to which RPX actually helped trolls rather than stop them



  3. IAM Together With Its Partner, IIPCC, is Lobbying the USPTO to Crush PTAB and Restore Patent Chaos

    Having handled over 8,000 petitions (according to Professor Lemley's Lex Machina), PTAB champions patent quality at the USPTO, so front groups of the litigation 'industry' creep in and attempt to lobby the likely next Director of the USPTO (inciting him against PTAB, as usual)



  4. Software Patents Are Still Dropping Like Flies in 2018, Thanks to Alice v CLS Bank (SCOTUS, 2014) and Section 101 (USPTO)

    Section 101 (§ 101) is thriving in the sense that it belatedly throws thousands of patents -- and frivolous lawsuits that depend on them -- down the chute; the patent trolls and their allies in the patent microcosm are very furious and they blame PTAB for actually doing its job (enforcing Section 101 when petitioned to do so)



  5. Patent Troll Finjan Looks Like It's About to Collapse, But Patent Maximalists Exploit It for Software Patents Promotion

    Patent trolls are struggling in their use of software patents; few (if any) of their patents are upheld as valid and those that miraculously remain in tact become the subject of fascination if not obsession among trolls' advocates



  6. The Attacks on PTAB Are Slowing Down and Attempts to Shield Oneself From Inter Partes Reviews (IPRs) Are Failing

    The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) reapplies patent eligibility tests/guidelines in order to squash likely invalid patents; The litigation 'industry' is not happy about it, but its opposition to PTAB is also losing steam



  7. Links 21/1/2018: Wine 3.0 Coverage, KaOS 2018.01, Red Hat Among 'Admired Companies'

    Links for the day



  8. Blockchain Patents Are a Catastrophe in the Making as Trolls and Aggressors Accumulate Them

    As patents pertaining to blockchains continue to be granted -- even in defiance of Alice/Section 101 -- it seems likely that patent wars will sooner or later erupt, involving some large banks, IBM, and patent trolls associated with the notorious Erich Spangenberg



  9. Qualcomm/Broadcom/NXP Combination Would Become a Disastrous Patent Thicket Which Benefits Nobody

    Worried by the prospect of mega-mergers and takeovers which would put far too much market power (and monopoly through patents) in one place, governments and corporations speak out



  10. Patent Litigation in East Asia: Huawei, Samsung, HTC, Nintendo and COLOPL

    A quick look at some high-profile cases in which large Asian firms are embroiled; it seems clear that litigation activities have shifted eastwards (where actual production is done)



  11. Patent Litigation in the US is Down Sharply and Patent Trolls' Demise Has Much to Do With It

    Docket Navigator and Lex Machina both show a significant decline in litigation -- a trend which is likely to carry on now that TC Heartland is in tact (not for just half a year but a whole year) and PTAB completes another record year



  12. Cheating the US Patent System is a Lot Harder After TC Heartland

    Some new examples of tricks (and sometimes cheats) attempted by patent claimants and their representatives; it does not go as well as they hoped



  13. RPX Might Soon be Owned by Patent Troll Erich Spangenberg

    RPX, whose top executives are leaving and business is gradually dying, might end up as another 'asset' of patent trolls



  14. Patent Quality (Not Numbers) as an Asset: Oppositions, Appeals and Rejections at the EPO

    Benoît Battistelli wants a rubber-stamping operation (like INPI) rather than a functional patent office, but oppositions at the Office prove to be fruitful and many erroneously-granted patents are -- by extrapolation -- already being revoked (affecting, in retrospect, Battistelli's so-called 'results')



  15. Links 19/1/2018: Linux Journalism Fund, Grsecurity is SLAPPing Again

    Links for the day



  16. The EPO Ignores This Week's Decision Which Demonstrates Patent Scope Gone Awry; Software Patents Brought Up Again

    The worrisome growth of European Patents (EPs) — a 40% jump in one year in spite of decline in the number of patent applications — is a symptom of the poor judgment, induced largely by bad policies that impede examiners’ activities for the sake of so-called ‘production’; this week's decision regarding CRISPR is another wake-up call and software patents too need to be abolished (as a whole), in lieu with the European Patent Convention (EPC)



  17. WesternGeco v ION Geophysical (at the US Supreme Court) Won't Affect Patent Scope

    As WesternGeco v ION Geophysical is the main if not sole ‘major’ patent case that the US Supreme Court will deal with, it seems safe to say that nothing substantial will change for patent scope in the United States this year



  18. Links 18/1/2018: MenuLibre 2.1.4, Git 2.16 Released

    Links for the day



  19. Microsoft, Masking/Hiding Itself Behind Patent Trolls, is Still Engaging in Patent Extortion

    A review of Microsoft's ugly tactics, which involve coercion and extortion (for businesses to move to Azure and/or for OEMs to preload Microsoft software) while Microsoft-connected patent trolls help hide the "enforcement" element in this whole racket



  20. Patent Prosecution Highway: Low-Quality Patents for High-Frequency Patent Aggressors

    The EPO's race to the bottom of patent quality, combined with a "need for speed", is a recipe for disaster (except for litigation firms, patent bullies, and patent trolls)



  21. Press Coverage About the EPO Board Revoking Broad's CRISPR Patent

    Even though there's some decent coverage about yesterday's decision (e.g. from The Scientist), the patent microcosm googlebombs the news with stuff that serves to distract from or distort the outcome



  22. Links 17/1/2018: HHVM 3.24, WordPress 4.9.2

    Links for the day



  23. No Patents on Life (CRISPR), Said EPO Boards of Appeal Just a Few Hours Ago

    Broad spectacularly loses its key case, which may soon mean that any other patents on CRISPR too will be considered invalid



  24. Only Two Weeks on the Job, Judge Patrick Corcoran is Already Being Threatened by EPO Management

    The attack on a technical judge who is accused of relaying information many people had already relayed anyway (it was gossip at the whole Organisation for years) carries on as he is again being pushed around, just as many people predicted



  25. EPO Board of Appeal Has an Opportunity to Stop Controversial Patents on Life

    Patent maximalism at the EPO can be pushed aback slightly if the European appeal board decides to curtail CRISPR patents in a matter of days



  26. Links 16/1/2018: More on Barcelona, OSI at 20

    Links for the day



  27. 2018 Will be an Even Worse Year for Software Patents Because the US Supreme Court Shields Alice

    The latest picks (reviewed cases) of the Supreme Court of the United States signal another year with little or no hope for the software patents lobby; PTAB too is expected to endure after a record-breaking year, in which it invalidated a lot of software patents that had been erroneously granted



  28. Patent Trolls (Euphemised as “Public IP Companies”) Are Dying in the United States, But the Trouble Isn't Over

    The demise of various types of patent trolls, including publicly-traded trolls, is good news; but we take stock of the latest developments in order to better assess the remaining threat



  29. EPO Management and Team UPC Carry on Lying About Unified Patent Court, Sinking to New Lows in the Process

    At a loss for words over the loss of the Unitary Patent, Team UPC and Team Battistelli now blatantly lie and even get together with professional liars such as Watchtroll



  30. China Tightens Its Knot of Restrictive Rules and Patents

    Overzealous patent aggressors and patent trolls in China, in addition to an explosion in low-quality patents, may simply discourage companies from doing production/manufacturing there


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