05.25.20

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Working From Home on Patent Monopolies Would Lower Their Quality and Perceived Legitimacy

Posted in Europe, Patents at 7:05 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Working from home
Myself working from home (photo from this morning)

Summary: The patent system wherein people grant monopolies from their sofas and bedrooms isn’t helping the already-eroded perception/image of patent offices that mostly grant patents to massive multinationals (and far too many patents overall)

AS every honest patent examiner is aware, there’s a socio-economic/political element to patents. There’s a reason why the EPO has been run by politicians for about a decade (António Campinos and Benoît Battistelli are neither jurists nor scientists). We end up with stuff like software patents in Europe not because actual coders/developers/programmers want these; there’s just a lot of lobbying from law firms and monopolists, looking for help from the European Patent Office to create/enforce additional monopolies. The USPTO is the same and there may be rare exceptions like India, where policy sometimes leans towards the public interest. Sometimes at least…

“Bear in mind that Amazon and Facebook pursue lots of European Patents, many of which on software.”This post isn’t a rant about the patent system in general; I never called for all patents to be abolished, but it seems clear that millions of patents per year are far too much to keep abreast of. They’re not indicative of greater innovation pace; they’re just a symptom of “patentism” (patent law going completely out of order; patents are being granted just for the sake of more patents being granted, causing more litigation and preventing broad market access).

A few days ago Robert Frank published in CNBC the article American billionaires got $434 billion richer during the pandemic and as examples he said: “Bezos added $34.6 billion to his wealth and Zuckerberg picked up $25 billion.” (Also in the news right now: “Inside the Latest Plan to “Bankrupt” and Privatize Social Security”)

Bear in mind that Amazon and Facebook pursue lots of European Patents, many of which on software. What does the EPO’s staff get in return? Well, Office management is lowering salaries and rewards/pensions/benefits to EPO staff. Think working from home is an indulgence?!?! Ask EPO staff how they feel about it. Many friends and relatives of theirs, both in the private and public sector, are on paid leave. Besides, the EPO is sitting on billions of euros it’s not supposed to have, so why not give staff a break — a chance to calm down amid public panic and stress? Instead, the Office management forces these people to work until midnight if not later.

What would be the quality of work at times like these? Think about it.

“The quality of EPO output has been low for quite a few years. Forcing staff to work from home would only add to erosion in quality.”I myself have worked from home since around 2007. I sleep early and wake up early. My ‘daytime’ job is actually a nighttime job (to help pay the bills), but I never write articles at particular times of the day. How are EPO workers expected to write search reports and properly research prior art etc. from their living rooms at 11PM at night? With family members asleep nearby or watching TV with the volume up…

The quality of EPO output has been low for quite a few years. Forcing staff to work from home would only add to erosion in quality. They cannot even seek help/consultation from nearby staff at a desk close to them.

Is the purpose of this patent system just to build fences to protect the likes of Zuckerberg and Bezos or to actually promote and defend innovation? Whose service are those patent workers assigned to? Are they helping the European public or a bunch of foreign oligarchs who exploit this pandemic to add trillions in personal wealth (without even paying tax on it)?

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A Single Comment

  1. Canta said,

    May 25, 2020 at 6:14 pm

    Gravatar

    You know, I showed my wife your pic a few minutes ago, with a “look at this cool setup” intention in mind.

    She took a look at it, then smiled, and told me this: “that’s some AWESOME template for some old-school meme! Something in the lines of ‘controlling internet’, or ‘so, you’re new on the internet, are you? I’ll be your guide’”.

    Sorry for the offtopic, I just HAD TO comment it here.

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