EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

04.13.17

Awful Quality of EPO-Granted European Patents (EPs) Becomes a Mainstream Topic

Posted in Europe, Patents at 11:20 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The mainstream media is finally talking about it

EPO patent quality declining

Summary: The sharp decline in quality of EPs is being noticed by EPO insiders, EPO stakeholders (attorneys, applicants etc.) and even the media, which tells the wider public about it

TECHRIGHTS has already spent years writing about declining quality of patents granted by the EPO, usually but not always based on words from the inside (insiders do express great concern about it, only to face threatening words from Team Battistelli if they do so publicly rather than privately).

As recently became apparent, outsiders too are noticing and Thorsten Bausch (Hoffmann Eitle) did a whole series about it. Not only he is complaining; watch the comments on his posts (mostly from other patent practitioners) and recall this recent poll from Juve, which showed that patent practitioners are getting fed up with the EPO. So do their clients. In other words, nobody at all seems to be happy and nobody is gaining from this. Maybe some patent trolls overseas are already licking their lips over the potential to sue a lot of European businesses they previously could not sue. Look what happens in Germany, which is quickly morphing into a hub for patent trolls. At whose expense would they gain if the UPC became a reality in Germany? Has Germany learned nothing from the errors of the USPTO?

“Usually the more you speak about something,” someone wrote today. “the less you practice it. Let’s us try with Quality at EPO, article over 2 pages…”

This refers to this morning’s article from The Register, which is based on our posts and posts from Thorsten Bausch. To quote the opening portion alone (it’s a long article):

When he’s not ignoring national laws and threatening employees, the president of the European Patent Office (EPO), Benoit Battistelli, is on a crusade to make things work faster.

Against an ever-more unhappy background of EPO staff and patent examiners, Battistelli has for several years put forward the same defence: he is making things run more efficiently.

Last month, as some countries called for his ousting, Battistelli presented figures and later gave a press conference focused on one thing: the EPO has granted more patents faster than ever before. And it has done so, he claims, with rising quality.

“The first of these is a key result,” he wrote in a subsequent blog post. “The number of patents granted has risen by 40 per cent, with the total reaching 96,000. It indicated that we’re processing more patents, more efficiently and with the minimum of delay. This achievement is not because there has been a significant rise in the granting rate. It is the result of the consistent application of a quality and efficiency policy and the reforms that we have made.”

A very similar philosophical thread was pushed by Battistelli last year as well. That time it was a pre-occupation with “early certainty” – which means an early indication to someone applying for a patent whether they are likely to have it approved or not.

Battistelli pushed the exact same points: greater speed while retaining quality. This is his overarching vision and the justification behind his campaign of intimidation against staff, as well as his rewriting of the rules of every part of the EPO that has resisted – even for a second – his reform ideas.

As usual, nobody disagrees with the author in the comments. The first comment says:

How long can it be before Battistelli’s Reality Distortion Field finally gives up on him?

The sooner the better I say….

“What makes you think He’ll relinquish his position in 2018,” one person asked about Battistelli. “The way he’s re-writing the the organisations remit, I wouldn’t be surprised if the necessary ‘hooks’ were already in place to ensure permanent control.”

We wrote quite a lot about that lately.

“A cynic might question whether this is partly because there’s less time to bill hours,” another person said. “It would be interesting to see whether, despite being busier, lawyers are billing less time against each patent.”

The situation may be good for Team UPC, which is now pushing Battistelli’s agenda, including at IP Kat sometimes. These are people who would profit if there was chaotic patent litigation all across Europe. They don’t care at whose expense…

“No doubt some companies like long processing times (likely phrarma who patent a lot),” said another person. “I seriously doubt most small companies do though: the last patent I got through took five years! What odds your company’s inventor works for you anymore by the time you know if spending R&D for v2.0 is financially viable?”

Another wrote: “Would somebody like to tell the US Patent Office? Where the practice is that not even a superficial examination is performed with just a rubber stamping and adding to statistics to prove how innovative US business are. All that then happens is that patent validity is considered “somebody else’s problem”, much to the delight of the US legal system.”

Actually, the EPO has sunk below the quality of the USPTO in many ways. Patents that the USPTO is denying are now being welcomed by the EPO. The EPO is trying to outSIPO SIPO or simply become another SIPO. It would be highly destructive if it was allowed to go on.

“I can’t wait for the EPO to become a proper EU institution like so many others,” wrote another person. “Answerable to normal procedures (and ultimately to Parliament), normal laws, normal operating frameworks that can be amended if needed and people that can be fired if they don’t perform. These fiefdoms don’t benefit innovation.”

The way things are going, there might soon be no EPO left. UPC is an EU thing (hence Britain cannot participate) and EU-IPO seems to be getting close enough to the EPO to make a merger feasible.

Here is a comment relating to a subject we covered earlier this week:

“From 54 per cent unhappiness to 7.7 per cent by, um, deciding that everyone that didn’t answer failed to do so because they were 100 per cent happy with the EPO.”

And even then it doesn’t really help their case. 7.7% isn’t “close” to 4%, it’s close to double that number. Even after all those contortions, they still end up claiming that their policies have resulted in a 100% increase in unhappiness among their customers. That’s well past the point where a normal business would be asking serious questions about what’s gone so horribly wrong, and even if they try to spin it to not look so bad to the outside world they certainly wouldn’t be crowing about it in internal communications. I’ve mainly viewed Battistelli as your run-of-the-mill power-mad dictator, but it’s seeming more and more as though the entire management team has completely lost contact with reality. We’ve gone from regular Soviet-style propaganda to all out “Kim-Jong Benoit was born on a unicorn and invented rainbows”.

A suitable/apt response to that was:

As the old saying goes – Lies, damn lies and statistics.

If you take the figures in the story and change the spin to the opposite direction:

14.28% response rate because every one else is unhappy but don’t see any benefit in responding either because it will impact on any future applications, or because they think it won’t make a difference. This means 144 non-respondents with the 13 who did and weren’t happy is 157 of the 168 sample.

Or tp put it another way 93.45% of are unhappy. As is often the case with these things the actual figure will be somewhere between but just as a purely speculative number for take it half of non-respondents were happy and half weren’t. The satisfaction rate would then be 72 no response plus 13 who did = 85 of 168 = 50.59%

Seems to me that is still a much bigger unhappiness level than there was.

None of this would be complete with some quotes from concerned patent practitioners. One of them focused merely on the pace of granting rather than the quality. It’s about a controversial pilot programme we leaked in 2015, whereupon (after a huge amount of negative publicity) the EPO made it available to everyone and changed history (revisionism). To quote:

I fully understand and approve the comment.
One size fits all is not what applicants/user of the EP system need.
The present rush for quick grant (of easy files) is nothing else than applying the PACE procedure indistinctly.
The number of PACE application, has been, beside certain applicants, never been very high in the past. The reasons are obvious: it is when the validation start that it becomes expensive for the applicant/proprietor.
Why then get a patent quickly? There are no reasons to get a patent as quickly as possible for an applicant, unless specific reasons are present.
The only parties interesting in a quick grant are actually the member states. After grant, the annual fee go to the member states, and only 50% of the annual fees are for the EPO. Before grant, if grant takes more than 3 years, 100% of the annual fee goes to the EPO, and 0% to the member states.
How to get a “positive” vote from member states? Simply allow them to cash in very rapidly annual fees, or to “enhance” cooperation, in other send money from the EPO to the member states (or certain member states which are “worth it “.
Then one should not wonder why certain decisions are issued by the Administrative Council of the EPO. Tactically very clever.
The question is thus: is the primary aim of the EPO or the EPC to help member states or to help the users of the EPO/EPC system?
I think the answer is pretty obvious…..

Another person from that profession wrote:

Thorsten it is my understanding that the “early certainty” from search was intended for the public as much as the Applicant. I mean, when you review emerging A (and WO) publications, you want to do a clearance study. For that you need the prior art. Ideal then would be an A publication, supplemented by a perfect search report and perfect analysis of the adverse effects on patentability, and a law on “added matter” that excludes any improvement in Applicant’s position after filing. That’s as close to a “certain” clearance as you can reasonably get.

After that, it doesn’t matter so much to the public, if Applicant has divisionals pending till the end of the 20 year term, or if nothing at all issues till near the end of the 20 year patent term.

Is the EPO to be commended then, for giving more deference, these days, to the needs of the public, the same degree of deference in fact, as it gives to the needs of the Applicant community?

The original author, Thorsten Bausch, then wrote:

I am not sure whether the EPO management introduced this program in order to satisfy a heretofore unmet need of the public for earlier certainty, which I personally fail to recognize. Other motives suggested by some of the responders appear to me much more plausible. Add to this the quantity-quality fallacy, i.e. the wrong (in my view) belief that high production numbers are always good and a sign of efficient management. In the end, however, it is quality that matters.

The programme was actually introduced secretly and made available only to few large corporations after Microsoft had asked for it. So it was actually designed with large patent bullies in mind. Not even European companies…

Defending Bausch, another person wrote:

The problem is not to obtain as quickly as reasonably possible a search result and an opinion about the patentability of the claimed invention.

There is nothing to say against this, provided the search is carried out seriously and the opinion is not a collection of standard phrases, which looks like an evaluation, but is often not an evaluation of the true value of the invention.

What the problem is, is the idea of the top management of the EPO to grant an application as quickly as it thinks that it is needed by the applicant.

This is what is criticised, and rightly so, by Mr Bausch. The only beneficiaries of this hurry are the member states, and not necessarily the applicants.

The following comment said “this does not justify the rush to patent everything within 12 months after a shoddy search and a meaningless examination.”

As an applicant I want to keep my options open as long as possible, but as third party, I want to have as early as possible certainty on what I might face.

It appears quite difficult to reconcile both points of view, but this does not justify the rush to patent everything within 12 months after a shoddy search and a meaningless examination.

Early certainty yes, but at reasonable cost and in a way that my patent does not risk being pulled apart at the first occasion, or that the patents of my competitors are so bad, that I cannot decide what they cover.

As things develop presently, we are rather in the position of having early certainty in everything meaning early certainty of nothing…

The last comment about this alluded to Battistelli and “his macho instincts, willy-waving at the Americans. Anything you can do, France can do better.” Here is the comment:

OK. I see in your Part II the “early certainty” mantra extension, from mere “search” now to “examination” and “opposition”. I regret to say that I think it is another manifestation of BB indulging his macho instincts, willy-waving at the Americans. Anything you can do, France can do better.

But I stand by my original point, that not only Applicant but also the patent owner’s competitor would like to have “early certainty” to be delivered by the EPO.

Years ago we hoped that examiners and stakeholders alike would start a debate about the declining quality of patents granted by the EPO. Today, the subject is finally in the mainstream media (Britain’s biggest technology site) and people in Team UPC-affiliated blogs are equally concerned. They must be aware that the EPO’s declining reputation is a threat to their project (and Battistelli’s project), the UPC. That’s now how they foresaw this so-called ‘reform’ (more like a coup in practice).

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. Battistelli-Campinos Transition Will Be a Smooth One as the Administrative Council Remains the Same and the Boards Still Besieged

    A rather pessimistic (albeit likely realistic) expectation from tomorrow's meeting of the Administrative Council, which continues to show that no lessons were learned and no strategy will be altered to avoid doom (low-quality patents and stocks running out)



  2. Links 12/12/2017: New BlackArch ISO and Stable Kernels

    Links for the day



  3. German Media Helps Cover Up -- Not Cover -- the Latest EPO Scandal

    EPO-Handelsblatt attention diversion tricks may be effective as German media barely shows interest in one of the EPO's biggest scandals to date



  4. PTAB Haters Fail to Guard Bogus Patents, But They Still Try

    Three Affiliated Tribes probably won't enjoy sovereign immunity from PTAB, Dennis Crouch won't manage to slow down PTAB, and patent litigation will stagnate as bad patents perish before they even land in a lawsuit



  5. Team UPC's Tilmann Defends Rogue Vote at 1 AM in the Morning With Just 5% of Politicians (Those With Vested Interests) Attending

    Just when German democracy is being stolen by a legislative coup (in the dead of night when 95% of politicians are absent/asleep) there's someone 'courageous' enough to rear his ugly head and attempt to justify that coup



  6. The Mask Falls: Lobbyist David Kappos Now Composes Pieces for the Patent Trolls' Lobby (IAM)

    David Kappos, a former USPTO Director who is now lobbying for large corporations that derive revenue from patent extortion, is writing for IAM even if his views are significantly biased by his aggressive paymasters (just like IAM's)



  7. The EPO Protest Tomorrow Isn't Just About Judge Corcoran But About the EPO as a Whole

    PO staff is about to protest against the employer, pointing out that "Battistelli is still showing a total and utter lack of respect not only for his staff and their rights but also for the Administrative Council and for the Tribunal"



  8. Claim: Judge Corcoran to Be Put Under Benoît Battistelli's Control in DG1

    Benoît Battistelli, who openly disregards and refuses to obey judges (while intervening in trials and delivering 'royal decrees' whenever it suits him), may soon gain direct control over the judge he hates most



  9. The European Patent Organisation Refrains (For Nearly a Week) From Speaking About Battistelli's Abuses as Judged by ILO Tribunal

    The EPO's silence on the matter of Patrick Corcoran is deafening; to make matters worse, the EPO continues to pollute media and academia with money of stakeholders, with the sole intention of lobbying and misleading news coverage (clearly a disservice to these stakeholders)



  10. Carl Josefsson Lets Judge Patrick Corcoran Come Back to Work at the EPO

    After initial reluctance to obey/respect the rulings from the ILO (security staff declining access) there is official permission for Patrick Corcoran to enter and resume work (following 3 years of injustice against him)



  11. Bristows is Being Hammered With Negative Comments For Its Unitary Patent (UPC) Lies

    The Unified Patent Court (UPC) is practically dead in the UK and Ireland; Bristows, nevertheless, continues with its desperate spin



  12. Links 11/12/2017: Linux 4.15 RC3, Debian 8.10 and Debian 9.3

    Links for the day



  13. Judge Corcoran Turns to His Government for Help and EPO 'House Ban' is Finally Lifted

    Sources that are very reliable say that Patrick Corcoran is coming back to work, however it's now clear when and how long for



  14. Raw: Battistelli's Control/Domination Over the Boards of Appeal

    An old EPO document internally voicing concerns about the lack of independence at the Boards of Appeal



  15. Raw: Conflicts of Interest of EPO Vice-President

    An old EPO concern regarding structural collisions and mixed loyalties



  16. Microsoft-Connected Patent Trolls Are Increasingly Active and Microsoft is Selling 'Protection' (Azure Subscriptions)

    There are several indications that Microsoft-connected shells, which produce no products and are threatening a large number of companies, are inadvertently if not intentionally helping Microsoft sell "indemnification" ("Azure IP Advantage," which echoes the Microsoft/Novell strategy for collecting what they called "patent royalties" one decade ago)



  17. Yes, RPost is Definitely a Patent Troll and Its Software Patents Are at Risk Thanks to Alice

    The latest whitewashing (or reputation-laundering) pieces from Watchtroll, which tries to justify patent-trolling activities with software patents, typically in the Eastern District of Texas



  18. The Latest Scams in the Patent World

    Examples of 'dirty laundry' of the patent microcosm, which it understandably does not like covering (as it harms confidence in their services/advice)



  19. Patents Are Becoming a Welfare System for the Rich and Powerful

    A culture of litigation and more recently the patenting of broad industry standards may mean that multi-billion dollar corporations are cashing in without lifting a finger



  20. Unlike the Mobile Domain, When it Comes to Cars Patent Lawsuits Remain Rare

    An optimistic note regarding the relatively low-temperature legal landscape surrounding advanced automobiles, even though patents are being amassed on software in that domain



  21. The Federal Circuit Rules (Again) in Favour of Section 101/Alice, Koch-Funded CPIP Tries to Overturn Alice at the Supreme Court

    The US Supreme Court's decision on Alice continues to have a profoundly positive impact (except for trolls) and Koch-funded academics try hard to compel the US Supreme Court to reverse/override Alice (so far to no avail)



  22. Next Director of the USPTO Parrots Talking Points of Patent Extremists and Their Lobbyists

    The next USPTO boss (still subject to official confirmation) may be little more than a power grab by the litigation and patenting 'industry', which prioritises not science and technology but its own bottom line



  23. Raw: Three Years for 'Justice' (to be Disregarded by Benoît Battistelli) at ILO and Over a Decade at the EPO

    The delays associated with ‘justice’ at the EPO (usually neither justice nor compliance with rulings) have become so extraordinary that immunity should long ago have been stripped off and Battistelli et al been held accountable



  24. Raw: Scuttling of the General Advisory Committee and Battistelli Stacking the Deck to Have 'Yes Men' as Representatives

    How the EPO broke down resistance to Battistelli’s oppressive policies not only at the Council, disciplinary committees and auditory divisions but also staff representation (symptomatic of Battistelli’s notion of justice)



  25. The Patent Trial and Appeal Board Will Endure Supreme Court Test and Overcome the Tribal Immunity “Scam”

    The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), based on the latest news, is still winning the argument and justifying its existence/importance



  26. Phones/Mobility (Trillion-Dollar Market) May Have Become Infested and Encumbered by Aggressive, Dying Companies

    The tough reality that new entrants/entrepreneurs are facing now that a few dying giants look to "monetise" their patents rather than create anything



  27. Links 9/12/2017: Mesa 17.3, Wine 3.0 RC1, New Debian Builds

    Links for the day



  28. Like the EPO, Taiwan/China (SIPO) Harm SMEs With a Policy of Patent Maximalism Which Fosters Litigation, Not Innovation

    A culture of patent maximalism breeds plenty of lawsuits in China (good for the legal ‘industry’), but small companies that are innovative lose focus and resources, just like in Europe where SMEs are discriminated against



  29. Bristows Continues to Lie About Unitary Patent (UPC) in Britain Only to Get Rebutted in Comments, As Usual (Criticism Not Deleted Yet)

    The latest wave of posts (typically from Bristows) which herald an arrival of UPC in Britain are not just delusional but also constitute terrible legal advice



  30. The European Union Now Repeats Paid Propaganda From the EPO (Regarding the Unitary Patent)

    The EPO's push for UPC, which has already involved payments to media and academia, is spreading to the EU, which unfortunately fails to uphold the Rule of Law and the spirit of the EPC


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