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09.05.18

EPO Has “Far Too High Production [sic] Targets” Which “Deteriorates the Quality of Products [sic] Delivered”

Posted in Europe, Patents at 3:08 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Production” (or “product”) in this context is a term which equates monopoly-granting to manufacturing, where the goal is to sell as much as possible

Production

Summary: Like a refinery where the output is text, the EPO strives to release as many texts as possible, irrespective of underlying quality or legal merit (this, in turn, reduces legal certainty and leads to frivolous lawsuits from which only lawyers/prosecutors can benefit)

THE biggest EPO scandals are predating António Campinos and silently continuing under his leadership (which is pretty much unchanged); he arguably makes things even worse by not communicating and not offering any opportunity for improvement. As a result of that silence (now over 2 months of barely a word) not much has changed at the EPO except the 'shadow' layoffs that we sometimes mention but mainstream media won’t even touch. IPPro Patents published yesterday this editorial with input from someone close to SUEPO:

…a recent letter from four German law firms, Grünecker, Hoffmann Eitle, Maiwald, and Vossius & Partner, argued that the “incentive systems and internal directives [at the office] appear to be directed towards rewarding or even requesting rapid ‘termination’ of proceedings and a correspondingly higher productivity”.

It said that while the law firms do appreciate the increased speed, such “overreaching desire” for high productivity has led to a range of problems, including issues of quality, scope of protection, and inadequately assessed patents.

While it is now led by ex-EU IP Office (EUIPO) executive director, António Campinos, over the past eight years, the EPO has been helmed by Benoît Battistelli, a controversial figure who is credited with bringing in a record number of patent grants year-over-year. This feat was said to be down to efficiency measures brought in under his reign.

[...]

“One of the numerous obnoxious human resources policies that was implemented under Battistelli’s mandates was abusively / euphemistically labelled ‘dealing with challenging people. With such brutal human resources management methods, fear spread rapidly among staff, each day a little more, like a virus. At some point, everyone feared to be accused of having committed any kind of (non-existing) wrongdoing and then fear to be abusively sentenced for it.”

This, our sources explain, is coupled with “far too high production targets” which “obviously deteriorates the quality of products delivered as the four major German law firms rightly pointed out recently”.

This worry about production targets is not limited just to SUEPO members (the largest union with a membership rate of close to 50 percent of the entire EPO workforce), and in March, nearly 1,000 EPO examiners signed a petition to warn the office’s administrative council that the quality of patents at the EPO is “endangered by the demands of current management”

[...]

Our sources say that nothing has “changed concretely” since Campinos joined the office and that for the moment he has “not taken a single action indicating his intention to clearly stop with past (in)human resources practices. Worse he has kept all those—in particular in human resources who are directly responsible for the brutal mismanagement of the past years—in their positions. So what can we credibly expect if the same ones are still in charge? So far Campinos has only turned on a smoke screen with his sweet story-telling, which fools no one. No concrete work has started with either the statutory staff representatives (which he only briefly met on 17 July and will meet again mid-September) or with SUEPO Central yet, which he superbly ignored so far!”

[...]

For staff at the EPO, there is still a long road ahead, and as the debate over quantity v quality persists, it is uncertain whether direct change is on the horizon. For Campinos, there remains the shadow of Battistelli and the uncertainty of the future.

SUEPO has been rather quiet lately. It often seems like fear causes inaction. In the meantime, meanwhile, the Office languishes and many people are doomed to lose their jobs.

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