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. 'Reform' at the EPO Means Destroying the Staff Union, Crushing Patent Examiners, and Imposing on Europe a System It Does Not Want (UPC)

    The chaotic transition at the EPO -- a transition from something which has been workable to something intolerable -- and the role of the Unitary Patent (UPC), which lurks in the shadows and threatens to harm the whole of Europe



  2. Shakeup Against Patent Parasites in the US and More Rumours/Speculations About USPTO Director Michelle Lee After Trump's Inauguration

    The US patent system is becoming ever more hostile towards patent trolls, owing in part to reforms introduced under Michelle Lee's tenure, but people are still not certain that she will maintain her job and continue to fix the system



  3. EPO Abuses Now Make the Netherlands Look Like a Facilitator of Human/Labour Rights Abuses

    Rather than crack down on human rights abuses, the Dutch government now sends out the signal that it's an island for those wish to violate human rights whilst enjoying immunity (EPO)



  4. Links 20/1/2017: Docker 1.13, Linux 4.4.44 LTS

    Links for the day



  5. “Federal Circuit Had Affirmed on Every Issue in 77.4% of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board Appeals it Had Seen” in 2016

    The Federal Circuit (CAFC) and Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) continue to squash a lot of patents on software, in contrast to that fake news from patent maximalists



  6. Kudelski Group Not Only Acts Like a Patent Troll But Also Run by Intellectual Ventures Person; Mobile Market in Dire State of Patent Armageddon

    The patent thicket which pervades everything that is used by billions of people, mobile technology in particular, can be traced back to a lot of non-practicing parasites (or patent trolls)



  7. Watchtroll and His Swamp Still Blame Google (Where Michelle Lee Came From) for Improving and Gradually Fixing Aspects of the US Patent System

    Shooting the messengers (even wrongly associating yours truly with Google) in an effort to undermine patent reform when it is so desperately needed due to serious injustices



  8. In an Age of Necessary Patent Reform and Permanent Uncertainty for Software Patents the Patent Microcosm Looks for Workarounds and Spin

    Commentary on the status quo in the Michelle Lee era and some examples of bias from the patent microcosm, as well as news regarding the NFL getting sued by the Kudelski Group



  9. Michelle Lee, USPTO Director, Should Recognise That the Patent Microcosm is Her Enemy Which Hates Her

    The latest outburst from the patent microcosm, which has a temper issue and notorious disdain for judges it does not agree with, is more of what we have come to expect



  10. Battistelli is an Autocrat Above the Law and It's OK, Holland's High Council Says

    Battistelli's autocratic tendencies will not be challenged by Dutch authorities, in spite of sheer condemnation from many groups all across Europe and the entire world



  11. Beware Fake News About the Unitary Patent (UPC)

    The UPC is dead, deadlocked, stuck, in a limbo and so on; those who claim otherwise are merely lobbying (in disguise of "analysis" or "news")



  12. Shame on MapR for Pursuing Software Patents While Pretending to Stand for Free/Open Source Software

    The patents gold rush sees another company joining the 'fun', albeit this company should campaign hard against software patents rather than pursue any



  13. Doomsday Scenario in the Back Mirror as Michelle Lee Keeps Her Job (and Much-Needed Patent Reform) at the USPTO

    The future of patent reform, i.e. tackling overpatenting and patent trolls, looks somewhat more promising with today's confirmation of Lee's 'extended tenure' at the Office



  14. Links 19/1/2017: PulseAudio 10.0, Linux 4.9 Longterm Kernel

    Links for the day



  15. Corporate (Wall Street) Media Agrees That Brexit Dooms the Unitary Patent (UPC)

    The nonstop lies or the fake news about the UPC starting "real soon now" don't quite pass a reality check or a basic assessment based on fundamental concepts, such as the UPC's facilitation of subordination (to Europe) in the United Kingdom



  16. Farce of an 'Independence' for the Boards of Appeal as Another Ally of Benoît Battistelli Enters as Parasite Inside the 'Overseer'/Host

    The latest cluster of lies from the President of the European Patent Office (EPO) and direct refutation of false claims of independence for the Boards of Appeal, where the former Vice-Presidents can flock, just like the Mini Minion (Minnoye) of Battistelli



  17. Links 18/1/2017: Red Hat's OpenShift 3.4, Mozilla's New Logo/Branding

    Links for the day



  18. Union-Busting Action by Team Battistelli Takes Heavy Toll, Techrights Will Continue to Expose EPO Injustices to the World

    The Staff Union of the European Patent Office, SUEPO, which faced unprecedented and probably illegal (based on local laws) attacks, is being weakened by the worst President ever, whose own management team seems to be collapsing along with the institution he is destroying in just a few years



  19. A Lot More Fake News About the UPC, Trying to Convince People That the UK is Ratifying (It's Not, It Cannot)

    Response to some of the latest misleading (self-serving) whispers about the fate of the Unified Patent Court (UPC), which is in a deadlock due to Brexit



  20. Rumours Suggest That EPO Management is Aware of Decline in Patent Quality and is Thus Actively Lying About it to the Media/Public

    Whenever Battistelli brags about patent quality he may be consciously and deliberately lying through his teeth if the latest rumours are correct



  21. Links 17/1/2017: GIMP Plans, New Raspberry Pi Product

    Links for the day



  22. Resumption of EPO Propaganda ('Meet the President') Officially Starts Tomorrow

    Yet another one of these foolish 'Meet the President' stunts, scheduled to take place tomorrow morning



  23. Caricature: Battistelli's New Year's Resolution (More EPO Lies)

    The latest cartoon being circulated within the European Patent Office (EPO)



  24. Donald Trump Gives New Hope to Patent Aggressors and Patent Trolls

    Pessimism about the prospects of patent progress or patent reform in an age of staunchly pro-business Conservatives and glorification of protectionism



  25. More Fake News About the Unified Patent Court (UPC) Based on Lobbying Tactics From Bristows UPC and the Preparatory Committee

    Unified Patent Court (UPC) lobbying has gotten so bad that it now infiltrates general media outlets, where people are asked to just blindly assume that the UPC is coming and is inevitable, even though it's clearly in a limbo and is unlikely to see the light of day



  26. EPO Totally Silent for a Month, But Deep Inside There Are Serious Cracks

    The situation at the EPO seems to be pretty grim, even at the top-level management, and the EPO has gone into permanent silence mode



  27. Links 16/1/2017: Linux 4.10 RC4, Linux Mint 18.1 'Serena' KDE Edition Beta

    Links for the day



  28. 'Financial Director' Publishes Fake News About the Unitary Patent (UPC)

    Response to some of the latest UPC propaganda, which strives to misinform Financial Directors so as to enrich the author and his firm



  29. Independent and Untainted Web Sites About Patents Are Still Few and Rare

    Commentary about news sources that we rely on, as well as the known pitfalls or the vested interests deeply ingrained in them



  30. The 20% Rule: Patent Trolling Suffers Double-Digit Declines and Patent Troll Technicolor is Collapsing

    Significant demise or total catastrophe for the modus operandi (method) of going after companies with a pile of patents and threats of litigation


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