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07.01.18

Welcoming António Campinos, New President of the European Patent Office

Posted in Europe, Patents at 8:27 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Welcoming sign

Summary: António Campinos starts his job today; we wish him the best of luck and hope he will surprise us for the better

TODAY starts a week of hope at the EPO. After 8 years of tyranny (we have already covered Battistelli’s tyrannical behaviour going back to 2010) people hope for honesty, respect, and perhaps even management by a gentleman, not a brute. It’s doable, albeit the main issues are that 1) the new President is connected to Battistelli and 2) many of Battistelli’s friends remain in top-level management. Will any be gone by Christmas time to signal real and long-lasting change?

Battistelli failed really badly. His own bad behaviour contributed to the collapse of the UPC. A short while ago Alex Morrall (Lexology), avoiding the two lies about UPC, said this: “The European Commission’s Draft Withdrawal Agreement sets out proposals for ongoing equivalent protections in the UK based on existing EU IP rights. There is the potential for major impact on patents in relation to the Unitary European Patent Regime.”

Yes, because it won’t start. It cannot. 8 years of Battistelli’s vandalism/sabotage in the EPO didn’t do it.

We’re not the first to write about today’s change. It is already being pointed out by SUEPO that Christian Kirsch wrote about António Campinos over at Heise. See tweet and link (in German). We suppose SUEPO might produce an English translation some time soon, but it doesn’t seem to contain much new/critical information.

Another blog has just reprinted an IP Watch article, for which SUEPO already provided the full text. Here are some remarks on what’s expected from Campinos:

Patent attorneys are closely monitoring several changes Battistelli spearheaded. Some of those modifications — expedited timelines for obtaining and challenging patents — were introduced to speed up the patent examination and opposition processes, Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner LLP (London) patent attorney Leythem Wall said in an interview. One potential question is whether the system is moving too fast given the finite resources at the EPO, he said. The EPO “generally does a tremendous job,” but if the process is faster, the question is whether in the long term quality can keep up, he said.

Another question is whether users of the EPO patent system could have more of a choice as to the speed and timeline of their patent applications, Wall said. There is no way to pause the process or slow it down beyond a few months, he said. The EPO proposed a suspended examination period for up to three years, but there has been no decision to implement, he said. The incoming president could revisit such a scheme, he said.

Some have said they see a change not so much with regard to the process of examining applications but in third-party challenges, Wall said. Since the process is now faster, it places more pressure on third parties to get their challenges right and means they may need to invest more in challenging patents, he said. For examination, following fairly recent changes in their Examination Guidelines, the EPO tends to offer more suggestions on how to overcome objections, which is good, but at the same time it appears to be getting quicker to summon parties to oral hearings at the office, which potentially imposes more costs on users, he said.

Battistelli, who was writing for IAM and doing their keynote speeches in recent months, is still a hero to them. “Battistelli’s achievements overshadow the mistakes he undoubtedly made,” said IAM in its typical Sunday evening post from Joff Wild, who is still acting as Battistelli’s propaganda arm. That says so much about Joff Wild and his motivation although it doesn’t surprise us (Joff Wild and Battistelli are pretty close). He was using words like “legacy” to refer to Battistelli like he was some kind of Napoleonic hero. Wild’s concluding words are as follows:

And so, a period of tumultuous change comes to an end at the EPO. Battistelli made some mistakes, undoubtedly, but his achievements overshadow them. He left the office having done almost everything he set out to do and with its international standing significantly enhanced. Over the long-term, whether his critics like it or not, it is this that will be remembered. As he begins the next chapter of his life, Benoît Battistelli can be very proud of the one that he has just closed.

Proud? He made a total mess. Many people’s lives were ruined (or ended). Many bogus patents got granted, assuring decades of frivolous lawsuits all across Europe. But that will be the subject of the next post. He ruined not only the EPO but also institutions around it, such as ILO.

Campinos’ success (or failure) will be judged based on two things: 1) adherence to the law and 2) honesty. Be honest, Mr. Campinos, and always respect and obey the law. That would at least signal to staff that things are changing for the better. For instance, if staff and stakeholders insist that patent quality has suffered (which is true) then say, “OK, we’ll look into it and try to improve” rather than just attack the messenger. The mess at the EPO is not the fault of Campinos, but whether he can fix things or not is up to him and Dr. Ernst (who over the past year acted quite recklessly, stonewalling dissent and simply denying legitimate concerns).

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