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The EPO Bubble — Part I — An “Unprecedented Surge”

Posted in Europe at 4:10 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Series parts:

  1. YOU ARE HERE ☞ An “Unprecedented Surge”

Battistelli at JURI
Back in March 2017 Benoît Battistelli proudly boasted to the JURI Committee of the European Parliament [PDF] that his reform measures at the EPO had secured an “unprecedented surge” in granted patents.

Summary: New 12-part series about the deflating “grant bubble” at the EPO

Back in March 2017, the Legal Affairs Committee (JURI) of the European Parliament held a session dedicated to discussing “the latest state of play on the Unitary Patent”.

“Despite the EPO management’s eagerness to publicise this “new high mark” in the Office’s history, not everybody was drinking the corporate Kool-Aid.”On that occasion, the then President of the (non-EU) European Patent Office Benoît Battistelli gave a presentation to the assembled MEPs during which he proudly boasted to his ill-informed and poorly briefed audience that his reform measures at the EPO had resulted in an “unprecedented surge” in granted patents.

This “achievement” was also trumpeted on the EPO’s official website (warning: epo.org link) where great pains were taken to emphasise that the increase in granted patents had been achieved without any compromise in respect of quality.

“The EPO granted approximately 95 900 patents in 2016, an increase of 40% over 2015, and the highest ever number. This increase was possible following a series of reforms improving quality processes and enhancing efficiency, which ensure high productivity without compromising on quality.”

Despite the EPO management’s eagerness to publicise this “new high mark” (warning: epo.org link) in the Office’s history, not everybody was drinking the corporate Kool-Aid.

Many observers were sceptical about the EPO’s extravagant claims that such a dramatic increase in output could be achieved without detrimental effects on the integrity of the “end-product”.

“Many observers were sceptical about the EPO’s extravagant claims that such a dramatic increase in output could be achieved without detrimental effects on the integrity of the “end-product”.”Although nobody dared to confront Battistelli openly in March 2017, by June 2018 some German Patent attorneys were starting to openly express concerns about a perceived decrease in the quality of patents issued by the EPO.

But, secure in the EPOnian ivory tower of immunity/impunity, Battistelli and his team contemptuously dismissed any criticism of their “achievements”.

By means of oppressive managerial methods pioneered at France Télécom, the Corsican despot and his successor António Campinos ensured that the number of grants continue to climb throughout 2017 (+10.1%), 2018 (+20.8%) and 2019 (+8.0%).

Haseltine Lake Kempner: patent bubble
Between 2015 and 2019 the number of patents granted annually by the EPO effectively doubled.
Source: Haseltine Lake Kempner (hlk-ip.com)

The official statistics show that between 2015 and 2019 the number of patents granted annually by the EPO effectively doubled, rising from 68,401 in 2015 to a peak of 137,784 in 2019.

“The official statistics show that between 2015 and 2019 the number of patents granted annually by the EPO effectively doubled, rising from 68,401 in 2015 to a peak of 137,784 in 2019.”As we shall see in the next part, the number of grants started to drop in 2020 and the latest figures from 2021 suggest that the EPO’s “grant bubble” – initially engineered by Team Battistelli and subsequently maintained by Team Campinos – is in the process of deflating.

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