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06.17.17

The Writings on the Wall at the European Patent Office: Number of Directors May Soon Decline From 150 to Just 65-70

Posted in Europe, Patents at 2:35 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Related: The EPO Does Not Want Skilled (and ‘Expensive’) Staff, Layoffs a Growing Concern

President Trump fires FBI Director James Comey

Summary: Battistelli is seizing more direct and indirect control over the European Patent Office (EPO), which is supposed to eject him with a proposal for replacement already formally prepared for publication (on July 3rd)

THAT crazy EPO with its insane granting bonanza is undeniably faltering (it grants patents on genome and stem cells too, based on this new article, mostly because it’s greedy with a lust for grants, a.k.a. “production”).

“Battistelli will have left the Office by then, probably with some generous (but of course secret) pension plan.”We recently wrote several articles about anticipated administrative changes which further empower Battistelli and may give leeway for rule changes that can keep him in power indefinitely (even if by proxy). The number of applications is declining, however, and workload is expected to dry up next year, causing an avalanche of layoffs (redundancies). Battistelli will have left the Office by then, probably with some generous (but of course secret) pension plan. He and his cronies already fatten their bank balance at everyone's expense.

Looking through the news and ignoring all the expensive (often paid-for) puff pieces about ‘European Inventor Award’ we mostly find patent law firms trying to attract business around the EPO by speaking of pharmaceutical and biotech patents, as well as this one comparing the EPO to the US patent system, the USPTO. One firm even published at least two copies of this article titled “The Essentiality Test – Falling Out of Favour at the EPO?” [1, 2]

“It reaffirms the assertions that Battistelli is giving more power to himself…”What truly stood out, however, was this new article from Kieren McCarthy in which he shed light on pertinent details in upcoming proposals. Today, for the first time in nearly a month, he wrote:

Another raft of reforms at the troubled European Patent Office has come to light and, yet again, the main purpose appears to be to enhance the power of EPO president Benoit Battistelli.

The structural changes are just the latest in a long series of changes pushed by Battistelli over the past two years, and will be considered at the next meeting of the EPO’s Administrative Council at the end of this month.

This time around, rather than awarding himself greater powers over his staff, the EPO’s appeals process or its independent appeals board, Battistelli is proposing that the EPO’s departments be restructured, with several of them combined and their new chief operating officers reporting directly to him.

[...]

Directors stem from the patent examination world and so have “little understanding for this part of the formalities work and tended to prioritize the relatively small part of the formalities work that concerned the examiners,” it warns.

The change looks appealing to EPO management, however, since it would more than halve the number of directors from the current 150 to between 65 and 70.

The EPO-FLIER group notes that while EPO management wants to start the reforms immediately and finish them by January 1, 2018, the BCG report highlighted “reform fatigue at the EPO” as a significant risk factor in their likely success. The report warned that the “more profound the desired reorganization efforts, the more negative the expected impact on employee engagement.”

Not only that, but the BCG – which had been specifically asked to consider structural reform – noted that it didn’t see much value in the proposal, saying that “the new structure will not fundamentally change the work of patent examiners and formality officers.” In other words: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Perhaps we will publish the full text from EPO-FLIER folks some time soon. A lot of the above is already known to us (already reported by us), but some of the numbers are new. It reaffirms the assertions that Battistelli is giving more power to himself and someone in the comments already says something similar to what we said in recent months. To quote: Battistelli’s “last reform will be to make the term a life appointment, or he’ll be allowed to designate a successor – and it’ll be like how Putin switches the levers of power from Prime Minister to President, depending on which post he’s currently occupying.”

“…reform will be to make the term a life appointment, or [Battistelli] be allowed to designate a successor – and it’ll be like how Putin switches the levers of power from Prime Minister to President, depending on which post he’s currently occupying.”
      –Anonymous
Some people in the comments are meanwhile mistaking the EPO for the EU (or part of the EU) and taking the discussion somewhat off topic.

On the failure of the media to report this, one comment said that the “problem we have is that most of the press is restricted by its owners’ own personal agenda,” which isn’t a controversial thing to insinuate. At all.

Here are 3 of the better comments (so far):

This rather assumes that one of the planned reform measures does not include using International standards for transfer of power. Just like the ones used in Zimbabwe, North Korea etc etc. aka Dead Men’s Shoes

[...]

Those do strange things with people. But one thing which bothers me though: where is the failsafe in all this? You know, the classic issue of who’s monitoring the monitors.

More and more stories seem to surface these days about politicians and other people within a position of (certain) power who simply can’t control themselves and usurp the whole thing. Yet it only surfaces when someone leaks, the system itself seems totally incapable of detecting and dealing with excessive situations like those.

Yet it’s always the person who gets dealt with and replaced, no one seems to care about the system which basically made it possible in the first place.

[...]

The fail safe should be journalists as they expose the actions of these people and rightly so el reg has done just that in the same way it’s doing it with Chairman Mao/Pai. It’s one of the many reasons I read el reg, I just hope one day they add a “donate” option for those that use ad blocking.

The problem we have is that most of the press is restricted by its owners’ own personal agenda so even if these things are reported there is always a way for them to get out of it, e.g. lets have an enquiry, make recommendations, never follow them because they are just that, recommendations. The normal press will make out that the enquiry was successful in it’s objectives but nothing actually changes. Rinse and repeat ad infinitum.

We particularly like that last comment (also modified it slightly to amend typos) and this is why Techrights, as a matter of priority, now covers the EPO. We have a large number of drafts about software patents and news from the US, but we leave all that aside because there is already some decent coverage out there on the subject.

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