05.19.21

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The EPO’s War on Justice and Assault on the Law — Part 13: Internal Members: Gunnar Eliasson and Andrea Ritzka

Posted in Europe, Patents at 6:02 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Previously in this series:

Gunnar Eliasson and Andrea Ritzka
The enigmatic Eliasson and the elusive Ritzka.

Summary: The EPO of Benoît Battistelli and António Campinos has backed abstract patents because of some camera-shy folks; they may soon decide that the EPO can make it compulsory for parties to outsource their legal hearings to American software companies

In this part we turn our attention to the remaining internal members of the panel entrusted with case no. G 1/21, namely Gunnar Eliasson and Andrea Ritzka.

Both Eliasson and Ritzka are notoriously publicity-shy and there is not a lot of information available about them.

Eliasson is of Swedish nationality and he is the Chair of the Technical Board of Appeal 3.4.03 which is reputed to take a relatively “soft” and “applicant-friendly” line on software and business method patenting.

He also acted as ad interim Chairman of the Enlarged Board during the interregnum period between December 2016, when Wim van der Eijk’s tenure as Vice-President of DG3 ended, and March 2017 when Carl Josefsson assumed office as the newly appointed “President of the Boards of Appeal”.

It may be assumed that Eliasson liaised closely with Josefsson during the handover period and he is reputed to enjoy a cordial working relationship with his Swedish compatriot.

“Eliasson is of Swedish nationality and he is the Chair of the Technical Board of Appeal 3.4.03 which is reputed to take a relatively “soft” and “applicant-friendly” line on software and business method patenting.”Ritzka, who is of German nationality, grew up in Brussels where she attended the elite European School whose alumni include Ursula "Flinten-Uschi" von der Leyen, and Boris "Bojo" Johnson. She is a familiar figure in the Boards of Appeal and easily recognisable due to her trademark “French braid” hairstyle.

Ritzka is the Chair of the Technical Board of Appeal 3.5.05 which, like Eliasson’s Board, is reputed to take a relatively “soft” and “applicant-friendly” line on software and business method patenting.

It is known that, prior to joining the EPO in 2008, Ritzka worked in the Intellectual Property Department of Siemens a German multinational which achieved notoriety over a decade ago for its corrupt business practices camouflaged by an impressive but phony “anti-corruption compliance program” which in reality only existed on paper.

As might be expected for somebody who spent the formative years of their professional career in such an environment, Ritzka is reported to subscribe to a markedly pro-business “maximalist” approach to patent matters.

By a curious twist of fate, Ritzka – who is reputed to be one of the most “management-compliant” members of the Enlarged Board – was one of the panel of three judges who handed down the fateful interlocutory decision R 19/12 of 25 April 2014 in which an insufficient separation of the executive and judiciary at the EPO was conceded.

“As might be expected for somebody who spent the formative years of their professional career in such an environment, Ritzka is reported to subscribe to a markedly pro-business “maximalist” approach to patent matters.”This is the decision that enraged Battistelli and made him embark on his private crusade against the Boards which culminated in their exile to Haar with the assistance of an Administrative Council which was in Battistelli's pocket.

The driving force behind R 19/12 is said to have been the legal member and rapporteur Richard Menapace (now in retirement) and it seems unlikely that Ritzka herself played a significant role in the drafting of the decision.

According to the EPO rumour-mill, as Chair of Technical Board 3.5.05, Ritzka has been involved in a number of disagreements with the technically qualified members of her Board, possibly due to her reputedly “maximalist” line on software and business method patenting.

It is reported that these “differences of opinion” led to the defection of one member to Technical Board 3.5.01 and the departure of another member to take up a position as Chair of Technical Board 3.5.03.

“According to the EPO rumour-mill, as Chair of Technical Board 3.5.05, Ritzka has been involved in a number of disagreements with the technically qualified members of her Board, possibly due to her reputedly “maximalist” line on software and business method patenting.”We shall return to Ritzka in due course when we examine the mysterious affair of the “missing signatures” on the letter of 8 December 2014 from the Enlarged Board of Appeal to the Administrative Council.

But before doing so we will take a look at various allegations of partiality that have been circulating in the IP blogosphere since the composition of the panel for G 1/21 was announced in March.

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