Bonum Certa Men Certa

Patent Quality Nosedives at EPO, Say Insiders Whose Permanent Contract is About to be Terminated in 8 Days to Increase Pressure to Grant Patents Sparingly

Performance-based means number of grants or "products" as Battistelli calls them

Riding rodent



Summary: Hastened/lenient granting (e.g. PPH) and growing 'production' demands give greater/broader grounds for dismissal and worker pressure through fear, assuring that the EPO becomes a low-quality 'production/assembly line' of patents rather than a patent office (examination)

The EPO-FLIER team's latest issue, which is now 12 days old, speaks about patent quality. It repeats a lot of arguments heard before; it has citations, too. This was published just before the meeting of the Administrative Council.



"One last message before Christmas: we're going to grant patents even faster!"The issue has become ever more relevant in light of yesterday's "news" from the EPO's Web site (warning: epo.org link). One last message before Christmas: we're going to grant patents even faster! So EPO management is, in effect, throwing to the sharks what's left of patent quality -- the very thing the EPO long took pride in. The EPO will process applications for speed, not accuracy. Terrible. It's not just PPH but also PACE, Early Certainty etc. The writings are on the wall. Here's what the EPO wrote yesterday: "With effect from 6 January 2018, the EPO will be extending its PPH pilot programmes with four partners around the globe, namely Canada, Israel, Mexico and Singapore, thus enabling innovators from Europe and these countries to continue obtaining patents more quickly and efficiently."

"The reality of the matter is, Battistelli crushed the appeals and opposition process. He just wants patents to be granted quickly with minimal scrutiny, i.e. quality control."Seriously? The words "quickly and efficiently" miss the point; what applicants want is legal certainty irrespective of speed and "efficiency" -- whatever this ludicrous concept even means in the context of patents (it's 'production line' terminology, just like "pay grade" or "return on investment").

The reality of the matter is, Battistelli crushed the appeals and opposition process. He just wants patents to be granted quickly with minimal scrutiny, i.e. quality control. He wants the EPO to become INPI (France) or SIPO (China).

An article by Matthew Fletcher (Abel & Imray) was published yesterday regarding the EPO Enlarged Board's decision G1/16. It's increasingly hard to believe that the EPO Enlarged Board will survive long as Battistelli attacks both the Boards and the EPC (he routinely violates the EPC, not just in spirit). Fletcher wrote:

The inclusion of a disclaimer, where subject matter is carved out from the scope of a patent claim by means of a negative feature is not explicitly allowed for in the European Patent Convention (EPC). In most circumstances, the subject matter of amendments to European patent applications must be derivable from the application as filed. However, Enlarged Board decision G1/03 and G2/10 allowed disclaimers in some circumstances. G1/16 confirms that the criteria for the allowability of an undisclosed disclaimer set out in G1/03 remain applicable and it is not also necessary for the subject matter of the disclaimer to be derivable from the application as filed.


These are structural constraints; not pertaining to technicality per se. The matter of fact is -- and it's crucial to remember this -- the Boards are grossly understaffed and they're unable to look at as many cases as they ought to. This is what Battistelli et al must have intended. They just keep the Boards around to maintain the "perception" of adherence to the EPC (without any real "perception" of independence). The whole thing is catastrophic as it lets patent quality slip without the Boards having the capacity (or courage) to publicly point this out. Nobody there wishes to be the 'next Corcoran', who now wastes an extraordinary amount of money -- probably his and his wife's personal savings -- on legal fees in two countries with proceedings in a language foreign to him (Croatian and German). It's classic legal bullying.

"They just keep the Boards around to maintain the "perception" of adherence to the EPC (without any real "perception" of independence)."Now is a good time to reproduce the EPO-FLIER team's latest issue, which was posted at epostaff4rights.org (No. 33) as a PDF that's not easy to convert to HTML (we are having to do this manually using a text editor). They too worry a great deal about patent quality and supposed speed, the attack on quality control ("opposition divisions") etc.

The final straw for patent quality?



Proposed fixed-term contracts for examiners

In its October meeting, some delegations to the Budget and Finance Committee (BFC) heavily criticised proposal CA/103/17 for a “modernisation of the employment framework” presented by the Office. It’s status was then reduced from for opinion to for information. The proposal would have allowed the Office to employ 100% of all new examiners on fixed-term contracts, starting from January 20181.

But the proposal is not off the table. During its last Board 28 meeting2, it was agreed that a final proposal would be tabled for the March 2018 Council meeting. The revised proposal as it stands sets down that up to 40% of examiners may be employed on five-year renewable contracts. But permanent employment is a mandatory requirement for the independence of the examining divisions (Article 18 EPC), which have already suffered many “reforms” since 2013. We must therefore warn in the strongest terms against the implementation of any “reform” which would further deteriorate the working conditions, the working atmosphere, and the independence of the examining and opposition divisions.

Impact of past “reforms” on employees’ commitment to quality

Until few years ago, examiners and formalities officers were committed to delivering high quality services, including search reports and granted patents. This attitude has more and more given way to feelings of despair and resignation3. For many, the priority has shifted towards satisfying their line manager’s production demands in order to protect themselves from being targeted as “low performers”.

Examiners are finding it increasingly difficult, if not impossible, to comply with the still rising production demands whilst maintaining good quality. But the full adverse impact on the quality of the EPO’s services of the past “reforms” - the new career system CA/D 10/14, the DG1/DG2 reorganisation CA/65/174 and the “reform” of the internal justice system CA/D 7/17 - is yet to materialise.

Following CA/D 7/17, fast track procedures5 are currently being implemented which will make it rather simple to dismiss employees for professional incompetence - starting on 1

_________ 1 LAST NAIL IN THE COFFIN? (13.11.2017; su17019hp) 2 B28/10/17 (04.12.2017) 3 DG1: Rat race 2.0 – Part I - How did we get there? What will come next? (04.12.2017; su17022hp) 4 See EPO-FLIER No. 30 DG1-DG2 Reorganisation (www.epostaff4rights.org) 5 A new body called “Joint Committee on Article 52 and 53” is in charge of dealing with professional incompetence




January 2018. In April 2017 the Techrights blog reported 6 on rumours that the Office intended to dismiss a predefined number of examiners (at least 24 office-wide) in order to instill fear and drive examiners to accept and fulfil even higher production targets. PD-HR was requested to rebut the allegations swiftly, if indeed they were unfounded7. But there has apparently not been any reaction up to now.

Due to the excessive level of production forced out of examiners since the introduction of the new career system, examiners will soon run out of search files and will then be forced to generate their production primarily from examination8. It is likely that fear of dismissal for professional incompetence will drive examiners towards further lowering the quality bar for patent grants.

From 1 January 2018 on, opposition work will be increasingly done with a strong focus on “efficiency” and “timeliness”9. With less time given to deal with a case, members of opposition divisions are likely to examine the parties’ requests less thoroughly, with consequences for the legal certainty of their decisions. Users of the patent system should start seeing the effects in the second half of 2018. It will be interesting to see whether the parties to opposition proceedings consider poorly examined cases to constitute “efficiency”.

An independent 2016 patent survey10 found that less than half of the survey’s participants were happy with the quality of the European patent examination process. The situation has not improved since, rather the contrary11.

Potential impact of planned “reform”

In the current situation, hiring examiners on fixed-term contracts is likely to be the final straw, and the examiners’ commitment to provide quality will collapse completely. This will be a road of no return.

The European Public Service Union (EPSU) expressed the following criticism on the original proposal:

“... introducing such a comprehensive reform just before the new Director Mr. Campinos takes office smells of bad administration, and frankly of cynicism. It makes the work of Mr. Campinos more difficult to have a proper social dialogue almost setting him up for failure.”12

We at the Flier Team fully agree with that statement.

_________ 6 http://techrights.org/2017/04/21/wrong-patents-in-bulk/ 7 Letter from SUEPO The Hague to Ms Bergot on Alleged HR dismissal policies for EPO examiners (17.05.2017) 8 Open letter from the CSC to the president (08.11.2017; sc17172cl) 9 Opposition & Central Formalities Directorates; VP1 announcement (06.12.2017) and slideshow (05. & 06.10.2017) 10 Conducted by the well-respected German legal magazine JUVE (https://suepo.org/public/ex17003cpe.pdf) 11 EPO – All Problems Solved? (http://patentblog.kluweriplaw.com/2017/10/16/epo-all-problems-solved/) 12 Letter on Employment Framework at EPO (https://www.suepo.org/documents/44455/56843.pdf)

www.epostaff4rights.org


It's worth noting that the EPO closed the year with the above statement about rushed examination. This is a hallmark of Battistelli's regime. When we leaked details about PACE a little over 2 years ago the EPO went ballistic and threatened to sue. These leaks demonostrated quite clearly that the EPO was discriminating against SMEs. Nowadays (even as recently as yesterday) the EPO writes every single day some tweets with the hashtag #IPforSMEs, probably in an effort to obscure the fact EPO hates/harms SMEs. The basic idea is, if people attempt to find any information related to this, all that will turn up in search engines is EPO puff pieces or 'studies'.

"It's like workers of the EPO not only lack human rights but also labour rights."Also don't lose sight of the EPO's very latest (or last) tweets. One says: "Please note that all our offices will be closed over the holiday period from 23 Dec 2017 & will open again on 2 Jan 2018."

6 working days off is ridiculously low. Most companies give twice as much! The EPO then tweeted: "Happy holidays & warm wishes for 2018 from all of us at the European Patent Office!"

"Happy holidays" after the EPO canceled three holidays. It's like workers of the EPO not only lack human rights but also labour rights. And who can they complain to? The EPO certainly continues to demonstrate that it's above the law and beyond any form of accountability.

Recent Techrights' Posts

Sheriff of Cork & Debian Edward Brocklesby or Brockelsby Street confusion
Reprinted with permission from Daniel Pocock
Who Is This Backup FOR, the NSA?
As Admfubar put it, "backups for everyone..."
Microsoft's Siege of Libya Coming to an End
One might be tempted to guess the users deleted Windows and installed something else
New Talk by Dr. Richard Stallman Published Two Days Ago By CeSIUM - Centro de Estudantes de Engenharia Informática da Universidade do Minho (Portugal)
The FSF no longer mentions Richard Stallman's talks, but we will
Name the Threats and Threat Actors
Looking back to 2006, there was Novell and gregkh (partly salaried by Microsoft), so these are familiar territories
The "Other" SPLC
You know you're winning the debate when censorship is explored
Microsoft: By Default, Destroy Linux
Here is what the very "polite" Microsoft Boccassi had to say
Perens on a Stick
Remember what Novell did and how few (barely anyone) sided with Novell
Andrew Tanenbaum Gets an Award for His Work on MINIX
ACM one week ago
Twitter's Fall to Irrelevancy in Europe
Musk bought a dud
 
Links 25/06/2024: Julian Assange Freed From Prison, "AI" Bubble Imploding Some More
Links for the day
Three Points About Julian Assange Plea Deal
There is still a secret problem
[Meme] EFF Became a 'Bunch of Pussies' Working for GAFAM (and Sponsored by GAFAM)
It won't protect people, except very rich people's interests
IBM Does Not Care for the Blind (Wayland Harms Accessibility)
What a punch in the gut
Tux Machines Past 20: Still Thriving
Now 20 years and 2 weeks old
[Meme] Microsoft is Coming /Home
"LOL, REAL SORRY!!!"
Gemini Links 25/06/2024: Old Computer Challenge; An Opinionated GNU/Linux Guide
Links for the day
Over at Tux Machines...
GNU/Linux news for the past day
IRC Proceedings: Monday, June 24, 2024
IRC logs for Monday, June 24, 2024
IEEE Computer Society on Andrew Tanenbaum, Winner of ACM Award, Who Also Inspired Linux Development
10 years ago
FSF Looking to Raise Money by Adding 200 New Members by July 19
The FSF is in good shape, according to Alexandre Oliva
Not Only Does It Not Add Security... (UEFI as a 'Bug Door')
SecureCore?
Data From Monaco Should Alarm Microsoft
Just how many people are deleting Windows and installing something else this year?
Linux in Central Sahel (Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger)
Vast area, vast number of "Linux users" (if one counts Android as such)
[Meme] Gagging One's Own Staff as a Signal of Corporate Distress
Censorship at Microsoft
Staying the Course
censorship isn't easy against sites that understand ways to resist it
The 'All-Seeing' Microsoft Eye
Microsofters are observing us closely
Links 24/06/2024: Long COVID and "How I Write Blogs"
Links for the day
Allegations That Microsoft is Covering Up Employee Dissatisfaction and Using a Survey to Catch 'Risk' to the Cult Mentality
This favours or gradually socially-engineers a company for sociopathy
'Linux Hint' Inactive for Nearly a Month (It Used to be Very Active)
Their Twitter account hasn't been active for a long time and it's not too clear what's going on
An Unexpected GNU/Linux Trend
Burkina Faso is changing and not just politically
Android (Linux) at New Highs in Burkina Faso, Now Measured at 72% (Windows Was Measured at 98% 15 Years Ago)
based on this month's estimates
With 0.76% for ChromeOS and 3.7% for GNU/Linux (4.5% Total) Burkina Faso Approaches 5% for 'Linux'
More if one counts Android as "Linux"
Gemini Links 24/06/2024: Being Dull and OpenSSH Autoban
Links for the day
EPO Issues in The Hague
a report dated 4 days ago about a meeting that took place 12 days ago
[Meme] Garbage in, Garbage Out (EPO Patent Quality)
"Get back to work"
When the Employer Makes You Too Sick to Go to Work (New EPO Document)
"registering when you are sick"
[Meme] 'Useless' Kids of EPO Examiners
malnourished?
Granting Loads of Monopolies in Europe (to Foreign Corporations of Epic Size and Far Too Much Power Inside Europe) is Vastly More Important Than Raising European Kids Properly?
"Efficiency" first? Whose? Corporations or families? No wonder so many young families are hesitant to have any kids these days; that's particularly true in east Asia and also in north America, not just Europe
[Meme] Putin's Red Flags
Firefox ESR or Firefox USSR
The Corporate/Mainstream Media and Even Social Control Media is Distorting the Record About What Mozilla Actually Did (It Originally Surrendered to Vladimir Putin)
Mozilla being avoided for purely technical reasons (sites not being compatible with it) is one thing. Foolishly, Mozilla is giving people more political reasons to also shun Mozilla. This is suicide.
GNU/Linux Up Some More This Morning, Windows Down Sharply Even in Rich Countries
Microsoft is in trouble in the Muslim world
United Arab Emirates (UAE) Rising... Towards 5% for ChromeOS and GNU/Linux
the latest numbers show it growing from about 0.1% to around 2.4% for GNU/Linux, plus 2.01% for Chromebooks (ChromeOS), i.e. about 5% in total.
Techrights in the Coming Decade: The Free Speech (Online) Angle
Free speech is a fundamental tenet of a free society
Links 24/06/2024: New Research, New Attacks on Justices Sceptical of Patent Maximalists, European Commission for Copyright Maximalists
Links for the day
[Meme] 12 Years a Fedora Volunteer
IBM gives me a 'free' Fedora badge as recognition
IBM Slavery: Not a New Problem
When IBM got rid of Ben Cotton it showed the world how much it valued Fedora
Why They Want to Abolish Master/Slave Terminology (Because This is What They're Turned Free Software Into)
It used to be about community; GAFAM turned that into exploitation and worse
Roy and Rianne's Righteously Royalty-free RSS Reader (R.R.R.R.R.R.) Version 0.2 is Released
They say summer "officially" started some days ago
Torvalds' Number Two Quit Linux a Decade Ago and Has Since Then Earned an Honorary Doctorate
Revisiting Fuzix and Alan Cox
GNU/Linux Reaches All-Time High in Tunisia
Based on statCounter
Over at Tux Machines...
GNU/Linux news for the past day
IRC Proceedings: Sunday, June 23, 2024
IRC logs for Sunday, June 23, 2024
Edward Brocklesby (ejb) & Debian: Hacking expulsion cover-up in proximity to Oxford and GCHQ
Reprinted with permission from Daniel Pocock
You Know the Microsoft Products Really Suck When...
"Qualcomm and Microsoft go 'beyond the call of duty' to stop independent Copilot+ PC reviews"
IBM and "Regime Change"
Change of regime is not the same as freedom
Microsoft Windows in Nicaragua: From 98% to Less Than 25%
Operating System Market Share Nicaragua
Techrights in the Coming Decade: The Community Angle
Somebody needs to call them out on their BS
Techrights in the Coming Decade: The Software Angle
Gemini Protocol has just turned 5 - i.e. roughly the same age as our Git repositories
Techrights in the Coming Decade: The Patent Angle
Next month marks 10 years since we began covering EPO leaks
Wookey, Intrigeri, Cryptie & Debian pseudonyms beyond Edward Brocklesby
Reprinted with permission from Daniel Pocock
[Meme] Choice Versus Freedom
So When Do I Start Having Freedom? Freedom is choice between the GAFAMs
Digital Liberation of Society at Times of Armed Conflicts and Uncertainty
We have technical contributions, not just written output
Links 23/06/2024: More Microsoft Cancellations, Growing Repression Worldwide
Links for the day
Gemini Links 23/06/2024: The Magician and the Hacker, tmux Tips
Links for the day
Links 23/06/2024: Twitter/X Wants Your Money, Google Reports a Billion DMCA Takedowns in Four Months
Links for the day
Digital Restrictions (Like DRM) Don't Have Brands, We Need to Teach People to Hate the Underlying Restrictions, Not Companies That Typically Come and Go
Conceptually, the hens should fear humans, not the farmer who cages them
Going Above 4% Again
Maybe 4% (or above) by month's end?
[Meme] Debian's 'Cannon Fodder' Economics
Conflicts of interest don't matter
Conviction, jail for Hinduja family, Debian exploitation comparison
Reprinted with permission from Daniel Pocock
According to Microsoft, It's Not a Code of Conduct Violation to Troll Your Victims Whose Files You Are Purging
The group of vandals from Microsoft think it's "funny" (and for a "nominal fee") to troll Microsoft critics
Microsoft Inside Debian is Sabotaging Debian and Its Many Hundreds of Derivatives With SystemD (Microsoft/GitHub Slopware With Catastrophic Bugs is Hardly a New Problem)
What is the moral of the story about The Scorpion and the Frog?
Links 23/06/2024: Hey Hi (AI) Scrapers Gone Very Rogue, Software Patents Squashed at EPO
Links for the day
Over at Tux Machines...
GNU/Linux news for the past day
IRC Proceedings: Saturday, June 22, 2024
IRC logs for Saturday, June 22, 2024
Gemini Links 23/06/2024: LoRaWAN and Gemini Plugin for KOReade
Links for the day