“The Member States must decide very quickly if they wish to throw away more than 40 years of success, and replace it with a system that no longer rewards innovation, but instead becomes simply a tool for large corporations to dominate by means of their financial muscle.”
Summary: The European Patent Office (EPO), collectively speaking, is still wrestling with a Battistelli infiltration (a circle of high-level managers) which habitually lies and viciously attacks those who dare counter these lies
MANAGEMENT of the EPO is a disaster and the cause of crisis. It has been doing far too much damage to be simply tolerated and taken for granted. More than 2 years since we began coverage of some of the cliquish scandals Battistelli is still in power (having merely broadened his ‘circle’) and his agenda, except the UPC, is still moving forward. Software patents in Europe will be promoted next month in New York [1, 2] because who cares about the EPC, right? These people don’t seem to care about patent quality, not even when the US is itself withdrawing or moving away from software patents (post-Alice). It often seems like the USPTO quickly redeems itself, whereas the EPO goes (or races) in the opposite direction under Battistelli. Have we learned nothing from the mistakes of David Kappos, who is publicly accused this weekend of discarding patent quality?
The EPO has been rather silent for several weeks, probably more so than last year (in spite of summer holidays). It can be seen messaging everyone with dull repetition but slight variation (as if from a set of templates) [1, 2, 3] regarding Battistelli’s next lobbying event. The EPO is now 'spamming' the University of Manchester too (it ‘spams’ quite a few universities to jack up the votes/nominations, e.g. [1, 2, 3, 4]). Apart from that, there’s nothing which counts as news, just a lot of repetition. The UPC is on the rocks, so there’s nothing to be celebrated. According to this report titled “U.K. Patent Bar Says Country Should Join EU Patent Court” (via), Team UPC has grown rather desperate as short of political mischief the UPC cannot happen in the UK (or anywhere in Europe unless profoundly overhauled). Still, these people are pushing Lucy to ratify the UPC for their own personal gain. This takeover by non-practicing elements led Henrion to stating (to one from Team UPC, his employer) that “upc is not a reform, it is n hostile takeover.” It’s a Battistelli-backed takeover. It would be valuable for large corporations from abroad, not to mention patent trolls from the US.
“Well, the lies of Battistelli are very common and very frequent.”As we already noted here years ago, the UPC would likely make the boards of appeal redundant and despite the fallout (post-Brexit) Battistelli is still punishing the boards. It speaks volumes about his horrible sense of leadership. Responding to an article from the Journal of Intellectual Property Law and Practice, one person in the comments section now notes that Battistelli “has instructed staff to provide preferential treatment to such mega corporations,” as per leaks we published here a year ago. Here is the full comment:
It is encouraging to see a critique of the current situation at the EPO, but it focusses on the situation of the Boards of Appeal, without going into enough detail about the staff conflict, which has major repercussions for the mission of the EPO. The editorial seems to accept that there was a need for “reform” without saying what reform and why. Once on accepts the use of this term, much wielded by the President, it is a very short step to considering it a “good thing”, and that the only difficulty lies in its implementation. This is very far from the truth. The President’s aims since his appointment seem to be to replace the high- standard examination at the EPO, which has contributed so much to the its reputation, and to the rewarding of innovation by small and medium industries, with a registration system, such as prevails in France, which favours mega corporations with deep pockets for litigation. To this end he has instructed staff to provide preferential treatment to such mega corporations, made impossible productivity demands on examiners, and appears to be intent on destroying the Boards of Appeal. The editorial is correct in identifying the weakness of the governance of the EPO by those who benefit financially from it. The President has had no hesitation in exploiting that fact, linking grants to agreement with his agenda, promising that the EPO will pay for “emergency” dental treatment for delegates at AC meetings, etc. In fact he realized from the outset that the only real opposition he was likely to encounter was from the staff, and specifically, the staff union, SUEPO. The resistance of the staff is not linked to salaries and benefits, but rather to the idea that with privilege comes responsibility, and with pride in fulfilling that responsibility by providing a high standard of examination to the benefit of industry. Hence the President has specifically targetted the union, and the staff with a series of repressive measures that would be impossible in any member state, secure in the knowledge that, as the editorial correctly states, staff have little or no recourse to timely justice. He has dismissed or demoted Union officials on trumped-up charges, forbidden strikes, rigged the internal system of appeals, and done away with almost all of the feeble safeguards available to staff. Indeed the ATILO itself has expressed extreme disquiet at the overwhelming workload generated, to the extent that it is threatening to expel the EPO.
The editorial is right to say that something must be done. A reputation is built over many years, but can be destroyed quickly and is slow to be recovered. Already experienced staff are leaving in droves, and recruitment criteria are being greatly lowered. The Member States must decide very quickly if they wish to throw away more than 40 years of success, and replace it with a system that no longer rewards innovation, but instead becomes simply a tool for large corporations to dominate by means of their financial muscle.
As long as Battistelli demolishes patent quality at the EPO there is an uncertain future for the Office. NPOs (national patent offices) might turn out to be the better route in all cases, thus jeopardising everything that the EPC stood for. In the EPO’s own words (a couple of days ago): “To get protection in just a few countries, applying for national patents may be best” (under Battistelli it may be best under all circumstances).
Another comment said: “In the Administrative Council every member-state has the same level of voting power. One possible solution might be that there will be a different weight added to the vote of a member-state.” As readers may recall, the EPO’s President is rumoured to be ‘buying’ votes of small countries. He is also lying to Administrative Council delegates in order for them to support his unpopular proposals, including the crushing of the appeal boards.
In light of the recent coverage from Bernhard Lohr (not Katja Riedel or other colleagues), as well as an article about Haar for which a translation is still needed, one person published the following comment:
From the text of the reform concerning the relocation of the boards:
“in Germany, it was decided to separate the former boards of appeal administratively and physically from the German Patent and Trademark Office, as the new Federal Patent Court, in order to reinforce their independence.”
Actually, the trade mark department of the DPMA is in the same building as the Bundespatentgericht.
It is surprising that at least the German representative in the AC did not point out this lie of Battistelli. May be he will get a post as vice president or as the president of the boards in the near future.
Well, the lies of Battistelli are very common and very frequent. We pointed out some lies of his just a few days ago. Those who have the courage to question him and his lies are punished severely, so the record is rarely corrected from within. From September onwards we plan to accelerate coverage of the EPO. There is still a lot of ‘dirty laundry’ or skeletons in Battistelli’s closet. █