Our Assessment: EPO Wants a Lot of Low-Quality Patents and Low-Paid Staff With UPC (Prosecution Galore)
Decapitating the union merely a means for ensuring staff cannot fight back and save their jobs or the integrity of the Office
Summary: The European Patent Office seems to be less interested in examination and more interested in facilitating overzealous prosecution all across Europe and beyond; The Administrative Council has shown no signs that it is interested in profound changes, except those proposed by Battistelli in the face of growing resistance from staff and from ordinary stakeholders
JUST BEFORE Christmas we used the term ‘SIPO Europe’ to refer to the EPO as Battistelli envisions it. Workers’ rights were already appalling (barely existent), software patents were being granted in defiance of the rules and common sense, and Battistelli was making regular visits to China.
The Administrative Council seemed to be reasonably (or sufficiently) happy with the way things were going and was welcoming the UPC in spite of Constitutional issues, among many other serious barriers and antagonism from Europeans. Who were these people serving if not the rich executives of some large multinational corporations? One could not ignore the fact that not ordinary people were being served.
“The Administrative Council seemed to be reasonably (or sufficiently) happy with the way things were going and was welcoming the UPC in spite of Constitutional issues, among many other serious barriers and antagonism from Europeans.”“When asked by Ars,” Dr. Glyn Moody wrote last year, “the EPO’s spokesperson mentioned the imminent arrival of the unitary patent system as an important reason for revising the EPO’s internal rules…”
Last night we saw two briefs about EPO patent grants. These got published by Reuters at about the same time [1, 2]. Some companies are obviously excited (and exciting their investors) about EPO grants. What next? Lawsuits and injunctions? With UPC, these would be even easier. Are the patents truly valid at all? Don’t count on it. But the appeal boards too are being marginalised. EPs are being loosely granted these days, sometimes after as little as hours of research. This is the result of misguided Battistelli policies and unreasonable pressure levels. Examiners are rightly unhappy. This isn’t what they joined the Office to do and it harms the reputation of their employer, which in the long term can leave them unemployed (layoffs are already expected).
“the EPO’s spokesperson mentioned the imminent arrival of the unitary patent system as an important reason for revising the EPO’s internal rules…”
–Glyn MoodyYesterday we saw this new comment about how the EPO is recruiting cheap and usually relatively unskilled/inexperienced labour without benefits/protections/work security, as if they’ll become de facto filers rather than examiners, repelling the ‘expensive’ (i.e. experienced) examiners.
It took a while to make something out of the bits and pieces of information coming from all parties. I believe that by now I can make a wise guess about the whole picture. It doesn’t look pleasant for the EPO employees.
The EPO is over—recruiting. There’s no work in some departments and yet the directors are “forced” to recruit, as they also have targets to achieve. Strange enough recruited examiners must come from the outside, so internal transfers don’t count for the recruitment target. Old examiners without work and possibility of transfer soon will be hit with warning letters and become under-performers. The most senior examiners must produce more than 100% of the “reference examiner”, whereas the new-comers should produce 80% . It is clear who will go down first. The question was how to get the old guys out of the payroll but this is also taken care for, as there is the “Reserve status” in the Service Regulations. A permanent employee shall be assigned the reserve status if he has became supranumerary.
I would like to question the Administrative Council if they agree with this policy. I would like to ask the Administrative Council if they are willing to deny this and reassure the EPO workers that a major Lay-off is not on the way. I would like to make sure that they know what we foresee and take responsability for their acts and omissions. I would like to tell the Administrative Council that we will always , no matter when or where we are, remind them of what they have agreed to do or by their own volition have done to the EPO and to its’ workers.
In our view, the EPO’s management is attempting attack those who dare warn about what’s coming, potentially the complete end of patent examination (except perhaps by computers, which can only ever do a shallow and shoddy job).
“EPs are being loosely granted these days, sometimes after as little as hours of research.”The following new comment, citing an article we published two days ago, wants Merpel’s attention for “documents provided [which] show the continued harassment of the staff representatives”. IP Kat has not been covering the topic for a while (just 2 posts in about half a year). It barely even touches anything negative that’s related to the EPO anymore, especially since the EPO intimidated them with sanctions (a one-day ban). Here is what the comment said:
No doubt, given your interest stated above, you will be following the proceedings revealed in http://techrights.org/2017/02/15/claude-rouiller-ilo-and-epo/
Commentary aside, the documents provided show the continued harassment of the staff representatives with, presumably, the threat of disciplinary measures to follow.
For those who have not read the documents or do not know the background, the internal EPO Appeals committee (dealing with staff appeals against EPO decisions) has been held by the ILO-AT as incorrectly formed for a period of years. The response of the AC was to accept a new rule from the President that, in summary, if staff reps did not volunteer to be members, then lots would be drawn. Staff reps, already undermanned, pointed out the infeasibility of this as, by nature of being staff reps, they were usually advising staff filing appeals. To also be on the appeals com (ApC) would of course be a multi conflict of interest since they have client confidentiality and also secrecy involved in the proceedings of the ApC. Nevertheless the President has ignored explicit requests from them not to be part of the ballot and has drawn lots.
We await the outcome but those chosen are in an impossible position and the ILO will almost certainly hear more. What this means for those staff reps is a more pressing concern for us all.
“Amazing,” another person called the whole thing, comparing Putin to Battistelli. “Monsieur le President finds ever more inventive ways to blame his victims… thereby providing him with a pretext for victimising them even further. I am beginning to think that even Mr Putin could learn a few tricks from this monster. And to think that the AC does nothing to stop what is going on under their nose. Shameful!”
“In our view, the EPO’s management is attempting attack those who dare warn about what’s coming…”The problem is that these people have lost their moral compass and they only care about the safety of their short-term career and job security (until the next delegates come along). If the EPO ceases to exist because of their inaction, what do they care? Each to his/her own, selfish and cowardly (or well paid by Battistelli to play along and shut up) to the very end. █