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10.17.17

EPO Stakeholders Complain That the New Chairman Does Not Grasp the Issues at the EPO (or Denies These)

Posted in Europe, Patents at 6:34 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

German stakeholders speak out about a German Chairman

Dr. Ernst of EPO

Summary: Some information from inside the EPO’s Administrative Council, whose Chairman is denying (at least to himself) some of the core issues that render the EPO less competitive in the international market

THE EPO crisis won’t end until or unless different strategies are adopted. Last night we wrote about the EPO having a dispute over patent quality, but at the end the Administrative Council just parroted the lies of Battistelli. It’s as if there’s no intention at all to tackle the key issues. These key issues are not even publicly acknowledged. It’s all hogwash.

“According to Dr. Thorsten Bausch (Hoffmann Eitle), the Chairman at the Administrative Council does not quite know what’s going on or is in denial about it.”This morning an EPO insider said that “Chair of AC C. Ernst being told by “Users” that he has no clue of what’s going on at the European Patent Office. Note, however, that “Users” are concerned with Board of Appeal staffing and quality. Distressed employees kindly mentioned, but does not really become an issue.”

According to Dr. Thorsten Bausch (Hoffmann Eitle), the Chairman at the Administrative Council does not quite know what’s going on or is in denial about it. Very bad it is indeed if he’s not aware of the judge being illegally put on “house ban” (whatever that is). Why isn’t Ernst bringing him back? Why does he not bring all the judges back to Munich? They were collectively punished and marginalised by Battistelli.

Some interesting inside information can be found in Bausch’s article from yesterday. It’s about Ernst and the German delegation at the EPO:

With regard to the UPC, I learnt that this is a good idea from a European perspective, even though it may occasionally lead to some disruption of the existing business models of some. All well and good. Will it come and when? On that I did not learn anything. I cannot remember Dr. Ernst using the word ‘Brexit’ even once. He did mention the German constitutional complaint against the UPCA ratification, but his only two comments were “I am afraid I must disappoint you – I cannot comment on it here since I am a member of the Ministry of Justice”, and “I hope that it will end well and that it will soon be decided”. Amen.

Turning now to the two problems mentioned above, i.e. quality and the understaffing of the Boards of Appeal, I was flabbergasted to learn that the first was not actually a problem at all – at least not for Dr. Ernst – and the second has meanwhile been solved since the vacant positions have now been filled up, as Dr. Ernst explained.

Hmm. “Die Botschaft hör ich wohl, allein es fehlt der Glaube”. (I hear your message loud and clear, but still I don’t believe it – Goethe, Faust)

[...]

But let us put quality aside and turn to the really good news. The Chairman of the EPO’s Administrative Council said – and I am not joking here! – that the understaffing problem has meanwhile been solved. He literally stated that the (vacant) positions have been filled again (“die Stellen sind jetzt wieder besetzt”).

How great!

Except that this is unfortunately simply not true.

While a few Board of Appeal chairmen were appointed (out of current board members) and a number of current board members were apparently re-appointed in the last AC meeting, the overall result was such that EPO users can only be very disappointed. Following Dr. Ernst’s speech, I asked around and quickly learnt that there have, in fact, been virtually no new appointments of technical members lately.

[...]

In any case, it cannot be denied that the large majority of the more than 20 open positions as shown by the latest complete business distribution scheme from the end of 2016 have not been filled. Just to mention one example, the pharma board 3.3.02 now (finally!) has a new chairman, but still no (zero!) technical members. Its cases go to TBA 3.3.01. The backlog of cases grows and grows. This cannot be the solution!

Dr. Ernst was confronted with this fact by some members of the audience after his speech. He seemed genuinely surprised, if not even a little embarrassed, on hearing this and said he was not aware of this.

This raises serious questions.

I assume that Dr. Ernst genuinely told the audience what he believed to be true. If so, one must wonder how on earth he could come to this view. Did somebody falsely inform the Chairman of the EPO’s Administrative Council? If so, who was it and will that have any consequences? Or did the Chairman not bother to inform himself properly? He may be forgiven for not reading this blog, but is there nobody around him telling him what is going on?

As we expected, he will probably play “aloof” or apathetic much like Kongstad. Unless he tackles the hard issues and becomes a reforming actor we can expect nothing substantial to change. The same goes for Campinos, whom we’ll revisit in the next post.

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