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11.15.17

Declines in Patent Quality at the EPO and ‘Independent’ Judges Can No Longer Say a Thing

Posted in Europe, Patents at 6:36 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

They do, however, complain about their loss of independence

A shocked Battistelli

Summary: The EPO’s troubling race to the bottom (of patent quality) concerns the staff examiners and the judges, but they cannot speak about it without facing rather severe consequences

THE EPO, wrongly and arrogantly assuming that the UPC will materialise, is already making judges inside the EPO redundant or subservient. Even in defiance of the EPC. This is extremely serious as it’s a removal of oversight.

Several years ago we said that the EPO had done that (in late 2014) in order to gag those who speak about patent quality and can do so without fear of retribution. “Quality [of patents at the EPO] has dropped drastically the last 3 or 4 years,” one person wrote yesterday*. Ever since then, for obvious reasons, we have seen no dissenting judges (except retired ones). They self-censor, just like staff representatives do (consciously or subconsciously). EPO insiders already know what it means for EPO management to send judges to Haar (a symbolic act) and then try to invite chairs to actually celebrate this. Thankfully, most chairs are snubbing and declining this invitation.

Deep inside, EPO staff representatives don’t really believe much will change when Battistelli leaves. They just give Campinos the benefit of the doubt and act diplomatically. To quote a key paragraph (and the only one which contains new information of any kind in this article):

A source close to SUEPO said that as Campinos did not reject the numerous points issued against the current administration of the EPO, he is clearly aware of the contentions. However, the source added that what Campinos will actually do is still up for discussion, “since his answer is rather (to say the least) very vague”.

SUEPO links to this, so apparently it agrees.

Benoît Battistelli has caused a notable decrease in the number applications for EPs. He knows this, so right now he’s trying to cook/bake/fake the numbers by reducing costs — an old trick which this person fell for (and then got retweeted by the EPO).

Next time the EPO announces ‘results’ be sure to remember the decline in fees. It’s strategic. It’s designed to mask the decline in so-called ‘demand’. Regarding patent quality, one person said yesterday: “In practice there is no comparison of quality differences being made, as far as I know.”**
________
* With context added:

You’re a bit harsh. Of course it is not off-limits for EPO to consider changing their practices.

Or would you want them to still use index cards and miles of bound volumes of old applications?

There’s nothing wrong with improving efficiency. They can consider, and test, and evualuate all they want and only keep the good stuff.

I do agree that this should not reduce quality. And with the current EPO management that is indeed a worry. Quality has dropped drastically the last 3 or 4 years.

EPC article 1: A system of law, common to the Contracting States for the grant of patents for invention is established by this Convention.

For the grant of patents, not for their refusal! For the grant of patents, not neccessarily for the grant of high quality patents!

Quality should be assured by a constantly vigilant AC, alas, that is lacking.

** This comment alludes to the new system and the old system:

Back at Merpel’s questions…
1. Don’t know. And I’ve done the training…

Seriously, it is another technique and maybe it does work but it works in parallel with all my experience and doesn’t easily combine with it. It’s a bit like speaking Spanish for years and then one day being told that you would be better in Flemish. Why? Nobody really explains and you have no time to learn it. So you just ignore it. If you only learn Flemish and never learn Spanish (and they stop any Spanish classes), stats will always show Flemish is more popular except with the old fossils.

In practice there is no comparison of quality differences being made, as far as I know.

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