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03.15.18

EPO Staff Has Just Warned the National Delegates That EPO’s Decline (in Terms of Patent Quality and Staff Welfare) Would Be Beneficial to Patent Trolls

Posted in Europe, Patents at 9:41 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“And in a clear sign of just how bad the situation has grown internally, the examiner letter even explicitly notes that they are unwilling to make their names public out of fear of attack by management.” –The Register

EPO quality letter

Summary: The staff of the EPO increasingly recognises the grave dangers of low-quality patents — an issue we’ve written about (also in relation to the EPO) for many years

SEEING what low patent quality caused the US (the USPTO is belatedly correcting this with help from courts, AIA/PTAB etc.), the EPO‘s staff (not management) warns about Battistelli and his legacy — something we have been warning about for many years (even before we covered EPO scandals).

“And ‘producing’ a lot of low-quality patents has the same effect as printing a lot more money as means of combating inflation. That merely devalues everything and exacerbates the problem.”Battistelli’s rush to UPC (passing the task of proper patent assessment from examiners to courts) is no doubt attractive to trolls; they target small businesses who would shell out ‘protection’ money rather than take things into courtrooms. And ‘producing’ a lot of low-quality patents has the same effect as printing a lot more money as means of combating inflation. That merely devalues everything and exacerbates the problem.

Bristows, whose clients include many trolls, is perhaps the only firm still actively lobbying for the UPC. It is hilarious. Germany and Britain both prevent the UPC from ever arriving/happening anywhere in Europe, yet today we have Brian Cordery harping/obsessing over Luxembourg with almost no patents at all.

“Bristows, whose clients include many trolls, is perhaps the only firm still actively lobbying for the UPC.”Several days ago EPO staff took further action ahead of next week’s meeting of the Administrative Council. The letter has embedded in it a few links already shared by SUEPO last week and coverage in The Register from early this morning said this:

An extraordinary letter from nearly 1,000 patent examiners has confirmed what critics of the European Patent Office (EPO) have been saying for some time: patent quality has fallen thanks to a determined push by management to approve more of them.

The letter [PDF] has been sent to the EPO’s Administrative Council (AC) – the only body capable of exerting control over the organization’s runaway management – prior to its meeting later this month.

In it, 924 examiners complain that they are “submitted to constraints that are no longer compatible with fulfilling appropriately our duties within the Search and Examination divisions.”

The letter – put together as a petition – continues: “We are far too often put in front of the dilemma of either working according to the European Patent Convention (EPC) and respecting the Examiner’s Guidelines, or issuing ‘products’ as our hierarchy demands.”

“We feel that timeliness and number of ‘products’ should not be the only criteria to assess the Office and examiners performance. But that attention should be paid to providing a high level of presumption of validity to the patents we grant.”

The clear statement by so many examiners is an extraordinary rebuke to the EPO’s current management, led by the organization’s president Benoit Battistelli, who only last week boasted that they had managed to increase the number of patents approved last year.

The comments are worth seeing as well, for a change. Just skip many comments clarifying that EPO is not part of the EU (actually predates it, too). It’s very common to see this misconception in comments at The Register, especially with Brexiters superimposing their personal agenda. Here’s the first comment:

There is no point in poor quality patents – such are bad for business, unless your business is being a patent troll or a lawyer. Poor quality patents result in increased costs to businesses generally, which is just about the opposite of what the EU wants. The sooner the farce at the EPO is halted and that dickhead currently in charge of it ousted and replaced by someone more interested in getting the job done properly than in mere numbers processed, the better.

On international organisations:

The problem with international organisations is that they’re often seen as opportunities to extract troublesome characters from national organisations, sweetening the deal with promises of prestige and international travel. This “Ark B” approach is unfortunately incompatible with finding “someone more interested in getting the job done”…

EPO is then described as a “deeply broken” international organisation:

Yet more evidence…

…that this is a deeply broken organisation.

Then this:

So it’s a race to the bottom

Except that Europe is at least twenty or thirty years behind the US.

And some – notably Germans – tend to be too honest to stand for it.

Patents “are not there (or, at least, it was never the intention) to provide profit-making opportunities through technological monopolies,” the next comment said.

Unhappy
This is a difficult problem to solve…

I can’t think of a solution that is going to be wholly tenable to both sides, unfortunately.

I mean, on the one side, as a patent examiner, you want plenty of time to the appropriate due-diligence in order that you can be sure you have taken all reasonable precautions when a decision on the application is made.

On the other side, if you are a company that has literally spent millions, maybe billions, developing a technology, you want your patent as quickly as possible so that you can put your product on the market and begin to recoup the costs.

On that note: A note to corporations: We should not lose sight of what patents were originally invented for. They were invented to allow a company/individual an opportunity to recoup development costs. That’s the entire point of a patent. They are not there (or, at least, it was never the intention) to provide profit-making opportunities through technological monopolies. Though of course, it’s inevitable that that would happen.

Apple and your “rounded edges” on mobile phones: I’m looking at you, you total twats.

We’re between a rock and a hard place on patents, it seems.

We have long emphasised that the EPO totally lost sight of the goal of patents. Battistelli thinks of the EPO like an assembly line that he is managing. As if monopolies are “products”. Is this the sort of neo-capitalist approach taught at ENA? What if Battistelli was put in charge of managing a prison?

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