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11.01.18

António Campinos Continues to Conflate Speed With Quality

Posted in Europe, Patents at 1:51 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

As if he’s in a race against the clock

No comments for EPO

Summary: The EPO is just rushing patent examiners, urging for decisions to be reached in great haste rather than properly, based on available facts, evidence, prior art

THE observation that pendency was intentionally mistaken for quality goes a long way back. Staff representatives took note of it. Nothing has actually changed since Battistelli left, neither in terms of working atmosphere nor purely technical terms.

The EPO continues to grant a lot of patents; sure, it also rejects many applications. But that says nothing about quality. What really determines quality level is the number of false-positives etc. One can wrongly reject a decent patent application and also approve a ridiculous one. If there’s not enough time and no sufficient workforce (sufficiently experienced), things will go wrong.

A few days ago we stumbled upon Korea Biomedical Review’s “exclusive” coverage about rejection of a patent by the EPO. “EPO refused to approve the other two patents,” it said, “apparently due to unmet conditions under the European patent law, officials said.” Here’s more:

The three patents of Invossa that the company sought were “gene therapy using transforming growth factor (TGF)-β,” “mixed-cell gene therapy,” and “cartilage regeneration using chondrocyte and TGF-β.”

The EuropThe three patents of Invossa that the company sought were “gene therapy using transforming growth factor (TGF)-β,” “mixed-cell gene therapy,” and “cartilage regeneration using chondrocyte and TGF-β.”

The European Patent Office (EPO) gave the nod for the patent on “mixed-cell gene therapy” last year in Europe except for six countries, 14 years after the company applied for the patent registration on March 28, 2003. However, the EPO refused to approve the other two patents, apparently due to unmet conditions under the European patent law, officials said.ean Patent Office (EPO) gave the nod for the patent on “mixed-cell gene therapy” last year in Europe except for six countries, 14 years after the company applied for the patent registration on March 28, 2003. However, the EPO refused to approve the other two patents, apparently due to unmet conditions under the European patent law, officials said.

Was the decision correct? It’s hard to tell unless one researches the case for a very long time.

A new article by Martin Chatel (Dennemeyer Group) quotes António Campinos, who just keeps misusing the word “quality” while he actively crushes patent quality at the EPO (he has opened another gate for software patents in Europe, as noted in the previous post). To quote Chatel:

“We cannot (…) live in isolation, but instead form part of a rich IP ecosystem, with many different actors…”. Back in July this year, the President of the European Patent Office (EPO), António Campinos, stressed the importance of intensifying co-operation between patent offices. The overall aim is to increase the efficiency of the filing and examination process for patents worldwide, and better meet user expectations in terms of quality,

When he says “efficiency” (above) he speaks of his measure of quality. It’s not actually quality but arguably the exact opposite of that. The term "efficiency" can be interpreted as financial efficiency when it comes to Campinos.

An article by Chatel’s colleague, Anthony Carlick (Dennemeyer Group), speaks of lowing patent quality by means of so-called ‘efficiency’. “EPO oppositions tend to be costly and time consuming,” it says. “Currently, the EPO is aiming to reduce the average processing time of standard oppositions from two years…”

Why? What’s the rush? Is it more important to grant than to get things right (correct decisions)?

About 4% of European patents are opposed and, although the percentage has been declining, the annual number of oppositions filed at the European Patent Office (EPO) seems relatively consistent at around 3,000 to 4,000, since total granted patents are rising. In 2017, 3.7% of granted European patents were opposed, and the EPO issued 4,070 opposition decisions, of which 73% were upheld in amended form or as granted. However, EPO oppositions tend to be costly and time consuming. Currently, the EPO is aiming to reduce the average processing time of standard oppositions from two years, in 2016, to 15 months by 2020, but the timescales, uncertainty and cost may be a deterrent to filing an opposition at the EPO, especially for smaller or medium sized entities.

Exactly. We wrote about this many times before. Additionally, Battistelli has already fired warning shots at those handling appeals and oppositions, never mind fee hikes, time limitations and so on. The EPO used to take pride in high standards of examination; we don’t fault examiners for the change as it’s the management that wilfully put an end to patent quality. The motivations seem unclear unless the hidden agenda was to spur a lot more litigation — even abundantly absurd cases/allegations — to fatten the pockets of litigation firms.

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