03.08.17

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Battistelli’s Shock Doctrine is Coming to the EPO’s Boards of Appeal, Having Already Rattled the Office

Posted in Europe, Patents at 1:00 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Independence” apparently means harsher supervision and vastly degraded working conditions

Shock Doctrine cover

Summary: The vicious attacks on the Boards of Appeal are already having a very negative effect on their ability to operate and the end result will be lack of patent justice, just more and more so-called ‘production’

BELATEDLY, years too late to be precise, the EPO‘s management comes under fire from top Dutch officials who seem eager enough to take severe action. Following our coverage the other day, even Dutch media covered this letter from the Dutch Foreign Minister (yesterday).

“Nothing about even perception of [Boards of Appeal] independence. Only: give me the numbers, and make regular reports on members, indicating how they will increase their production.”
      –Anonymous
It seems to be able to understand that the whole Organisation is now in disarray. It’s becoming just a production line rather than a patent examination office.

“New President of EPO Boards of Appeal,” one source tells us about Josefsson [1, 2, 3], “talked to [the] Chairmen yesterday. Nothing about even perception of independence. Only: give me the numbers, and make regular reports on members, indicating how they will increase their production. Re-nominations will depend on the reports of the member concerned. This should make it very clear that, whatever the stated intention behind the reform of the Boards of Appeal, their new president was given only one clear task: make those annoying judges produce more. One idea which is now circulating is to save time by not writing the board’s provisional opinion before oral proceedings take place.”

So, in simple terms, they’re attacking people outside the Office and inside the appeal boards in more or less the same way. Quality of patents does not seem to matter anymore.

“Quality of patents does not seem to matter anymore.”“Oh no,” Bastian Best wrote the other day, “the backlog at the EPO boards of appeal still seems to increase!”

The appeal boards are not lazy. They're understaffed and constantly under attacks from Battistelli. It’s like the “shock doctrine”. They say so publicly, as recently as days ago [1, 2]. Well, that’s what happens when one understaffs them the way Battistelli and Kongstad have. Best’s source is this new blog/article titled “Hot numbers”. “Here is my selection of subjective highlights from the report,” it says, “I will focus only on the technical boards of appeal, which handle the vast majority of appeals at the EPO.

“First, the total number of new cases, has increased to a record total of 2748. That’s a 15% increase relative to 2015, but only a 6% increase relative to 2012, since there was a drop in new cases in 2013 and 2014.”

So understaffing has made no practical sense (just collective punishment or vendetta), but as we pointed out before, the boards can serve to reveal sharp declines in patent quality; the last thing Battistelli wants are some truly independent judges stating so to the world.

“The appeal boards are not lazy. They’re understaffed and constantly under attacks from Battistelli.”Marks & Clerk, proponents of the EPO, software patents, the UPC and all that abuse that brings them money, came out with 2 more puff pieces in the past week [1, 2]. Both are about appeals but obviously say nothing about the crisis of the appeal boards. It has become almost a taboo subject inside the Office because those who dare criticise these operations (or Battistelli’s policies) tend to find themselves wrongly accused and then dismissed.

A lot of patent law firms out there, even if they cannot tolerate what Battistelli has done (deep inside they want him ousted), are still in denial about core issues at the EPO because they feel as though they need to suck up to the EPO and milk their cows as much as possible before these cows are dead.

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