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02.19.17

The EPO is Becoming an Embarrassment to Europe and a Growing Threat to the European Union

Posted in Europe, Patents at 5:32 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Who needs parties like UKIP and National Front (France) when people like Battistelli do so much more to discredit the Union?

Juncker
By Factio popularis Europaea, CC BY 2.0

Summary: The increasingly pathetic moves by Battistelli and the ever-declining image/status of the EPO (only 0% of polled stakeholders approve Battistelli's management) is causing damage to the reputation of the European Union, even if the EPO is not a European Union organ but an international one

SO FAR in 2017 the EPO has attempted to keep a relatively low profile. The main PR attempt was this nonsense about Cambodia — a country with zero European patents. The Singapore-based (read: patent trolls’ new heaven) Mirandah Asia repeats the PR, essentially regurgitating EPO talking points. Gladys Mirandah and Ang Chuan Heng try to make it appear like some sort of EPO ‘victory’, perhaps not quite grasping how pathetic it looks. Even EPO insiders have begun making fun of it, for it immortalises what has become of the EPO under Battistelli. Today’s EPO is widely regarded as a laughing stock, so dysfunctional and abusive in fact that it has become a textbook example of international bodies gone rogue. Union officials have already been informed, but there is not much that they can do as they lack authority over the EPO, which also enjoys immunity.

“Today’s EPO is widely regarded as a laughing stock, so dysfunctional and abusive in fact that it has become a textbook example of international bodies gone rogue.”The other day SUEPO took note of the good reporting by McCarthy from The Register. He wrote about some of the latest debacles:

The president of the European Patent Office, Benoit Battistelli, is ignoring yet another formal rebuke of his policies by disregarding two decisions by the International Labour Organization.

In letters going back and forth between EPO management and the organization’s main staff union, SUEPO, representatives are refusing to take part in a “voluntary” drawing of lots to decide on new members for the EPO’s appeals committee.

[...]

In response, the regional Bavarian government – which oversees Munich, where the EPO is headquartered – is due to consider a lengthy sanction of Battistelli that argues he had been behind a “whole range of major intrusions into essential fundamental rights of the employee” and calls on the state government to “take action accordingly.”

It is unclear what action the German government can take against Battistelli. Even though several governments have formally broken with protocol to publicly condemn the EPO president and his actions, due to the unusual make-up of the EPO, only the full Administrative Council of over 30 European countries can actually fire him before his term is up.

“All I can say is that he must have some real dirt on someone, somewhere to have kept his job this long,” one person wrote.

Another person said: “The host country may not be able to do anything directly, but as with anyone under diplomatic immunity they could say that he is no longer welcome, and ask him to leave. But unlikely to happen.”

The Administrative Council’s complicity was brought up as follows: “Here’s the list of members of the administrative council. Perhaps they need to explain why they’re not doing their job ?”

Some people believe that Battistelli controls people by blackmail, but the explanation might actually be simpler.

One person said: “It’s not surprising and not uncommon, someone running ‘something’ and elected or not, thinking himself more important than the importance of what they are running, like the security guard at the gate who acts like he owns the place, typical/despicable human nature.”

That perfectly describes what happened at the EPO, which the following comment describes as a “European organization” even though non-European nations are part of it:

It’s not the first time that some European organization has got into this sort of mess, with a power-hungry type who’s hard to be sacked creating a little empire. The need for every government to agree to sack him seems typical of these groups, no-one trusts the others to do the right thing so they insist on full agreement of all 30-odd people before any major decision gets taken. Inevitable result: no major decisions ever get taken (well, except for salary increases & expenses payments, of course). Meanwhile, of course, we (the taxpayers) continue to finance this fiasco.

Come the revolution that wall is going to be very crowded…

It’s common to see the EPO exploited by anti-EU elements, so then came an old reminder to readers (happens in almost every comments thread):

Just to clarify – it’s not actually a European organisation. Its an international organisation based in Munich, the Hague and (a little bit) Berlin. It is not funded by the EU at all, but instead by fees levied for patent searches and examination.

And you, the tax payer, should educate yourself a little more about what you actually vote to reject.

But the above wasn’t intended to be EU bashing, as the reply made apparent:

I very carefully didn’t mention the EU at all, because I am well aware that it isn’t an EU organisation. It is, however, a European one (the clue is in the name: European Patent Organisation) and while it may be funded by the patent applications, the Administrative Council that oversees it, and about which I was commenting, is made up of “representatives of the contracting states” who are most assuredly financed by their respective taxpayers.

And it’s not about Brexit at all, as the latter part states:

And you, the Anonymous Coward, should perhaps remove the Brexit chip from your shoulder long enough to actually read the post you reply to.

Paradoxically, Brexit was very damaging to the EPO’s UPC ambitions and the EPO’s own behaviour contributed to the perception — at least in the UK — that the EU was out of order. In a sense, bad EPO behaviour led to the demise of the very initiative it was trying to bring across the Channel.

A View From Australia

Speaking of the EU, Madeleine Kelly (FB Rice), an Australian hoping that the “European Union” [sic] (EPO is not an EU thing) clarifies patent scope, wrote: “Common sense has prevailed, much to the relief of patentees and practitioners alike, and this new and much more liberal test for partial priority should mean the end for poisonous priority and poisonous divisionals, at least in Europe. Whether or not the Australian courts will follow suit remains to be seen.”

The above is a contribution from the Boards, not Battistelli’s Office. Patent scope in Europe has gone all wrong and even software patents are habitually being granted now.

Australian software patents were covered here before. They are still the subject of active debate and the Productivity Commission advises strongly against them. Australian patent attorney Bradley Postma was a featured item a few days ago and another Australian patent attorney, Mark Summerfield, bemoans the difficulty patenting business methods these days (he last wrote about it some days ago, having ranted about it for a while). It looks like sooner or later even IP Australia will look better than the EPO, which now overcharges for low-quality work.

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