01.20.16

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The EPO’s PR Team May be Trying a New ‘Damage Control’ Strategy Amid Historic Protests by Staff

Posted in Europe, Patents at 8:45 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

What (a lot of) PR money and determination to deceive can evidently achieve

EPO PR team

Summary: The latest EPO spin dissected in light of a new communiqué (serving to show highly selective reporting or bias by omission) and some nonsensical numbers that the PR team kept repeating amidst unprecedented unrest

TODAY there was a massive EPO protest in Munich (more details to come at a later date), but staff that chooses to live in a bubble may not have noticed. There was a media blackout, so to speak, as the management tried to pretend there was nothing except "social dialogue" or "union recognition" (even when additional representatives suffer salary cuts).

“There was a media blackout, so to speak, as the management tried to pretend there was nothing except “social dialogue” or “union recognition” (even when additional representatives suffer salary cuts).”We previously wrote about several instances in which EPO management was trying to cast SUEPO-led protests as a security risk. It tried to frame them as violent or negative outsiders, where usually the excuse/pretext happened to be racist or aggressive political protests (nothing to do with EPO or even to do with patents).

“There was an internal announcement concerning today’s demos,” a source told us earlier tonight. “But it wasn’t about SUEPO’s event scheduled at 12:30, a march leaving the Isar building and heading to the Staatskanzlei, which is the seat of the Bavarian executive. Nay, there is no such thing as a SUEPO demo, heck there isn’t even a SUEPO.

“The demo in question is one which was held before the EPO building complex near the Munich central railway station, where much of DG1 examination activities takes place. (The Isar building is home to DG3, DG3, and DG0). The occasion were opposition oral proceedings concerning European patent EP1962578. The scope of its claims includes naturally obtained melons.”

“We previously wrote about several instances in which EPO management was trying to cast SUEPO-led protests as a security risk.”Interestingly enough, only hours ago the article titled “European Patent Office revokes Monsanto patent on melons” got published. Surrendering to pressure? Is the EPO also saving face after Parliament fumed? Patents on life on their death throes? Either way, this new article says: “Monsanto was claiming melons with a natural resistance to plant viruses as its own invention, derived from breeding without genetic engineering. The resistance was detected in Indian melons. The patent was granted by the European Patent Office (EPO) even though European patent law does not allow patents on plant varieties and processes for conventional breeding. The Indian government supported the opposition from No Patents on Seeds! by a sending letter requesting the patent to be revoked. The letter was sent to the EPO just one day before the hearing. Essentially the application of the patent constituted an act of biopiracy – violating Indian law and international treaties.”

“Here’s a link to a German NGO organising the campaign,” our source told us. “The communiqué mentions 40 demonstrators without providing a source for this information. I suspect that this number is the number of the members of the public who were allowed to enter the rooms of the proceedings. I don’t know how many actually showed up.”

Here is the distraction effort:

Home -> Organisation -> DG 0 -> D External Communications -> Announcements

NGOs to demonstrate at PschorrHöfe

19.01.2016

On Wednesday, in front of the entrance at Bayerstrasse 34 until about 10.00 hrs

A group of patent-critical activists has announced it will demonstrate outside the PschorrHöfe I/IV building tomorrow, Wednesday 20 January on the occasion of public oral proceedings in Opposition related to a biotechnology patent. About 40 activists are expected to gather on the pavement in front of the main entrance at Bayerstrasse 34 until about 10.00 hrs. In view of this the EPO will step up its security measures to safeguard proper continuation of all operations.

As during earlier demonstrations of this kind, Facility Management and the Media Relations team will be on site to handle all queries and requests. Should you be approached by protesters, please remain calm and refer them to the Press Desk (extension xxxxxxx) or to the Press Spokesman on site (Rainer Osterwalder, xxxx).

Rainer Osterwalder External Communications

19.01.16 | Author Rainer Osterwalder – External Communications

Nice job, Rainer (shown at the top with the FTI Consulting logo). Painting protesters as anti-patents, i.e. antithetical to the EPO.

Rainer, from what we’ve heard, may be the worst of the whole bunch (the PR team). Come on, Team Battistelli, who are you kidding? Not a single word about the SUEPO-led protest? The PR team said nothing at all, not even in Twitter; they were exceptionally busy in Twitter when the protest took place (about 4 tweets in those 2 hours, which means they didn’t attend the protest).

“Nowadays, we see ever more cases in which the examiner has clearly not studied the cited prior art in enough depth, and gives a wrong and/or highly abbreviated analysis of patentability.”
      –Anonymous
Another noteworthy thing about the PR (or ‘damage control’) strategy is the effort to justify severe abuses by claiming high salaries (the management’s media strategy) and parroting some faked/twisted numbers. These help glorify the EPO and exploit gullible journalists who are unable to see they’re being bamboozled. There have been several discussions rebutting these claims. Regarding George Brock-Nannestad’s comment (highlighted in our previous post), one person writes: “As George Brock-Nannestad has pointed out, one important effect of the increased production pressure at the EPO has been a dramatic increase in costs for small European businesses. Take the examination procedure, for example. Until a few years ago, we could normally rely on the examiner to analyse cited documents carefully and to give reasonably complete arguments. Nowadays, we see ever more cases in which the examiner has clearly not studied the cited prior art in enough depth, and gives a wrong and/or highly abbreviated analysis of patentability. In the best case, such a deficit can be dealt with by a competent patent attorney, at a largely-avoidable cost to the applicant of a few thousand EUR up to grant. In the worst case, a small applicant may either give up (if the examiner’s assessment is overly negative) or proceed to grant with an inadequate patent (if the examiner has missed some important clarity or patentability issues). Here, the costs to the small applicant are incalculable.”

Another comment says: “The next step in that evolution is that examiners will be given less time to reply to the applicant’s submission. Expedite prosecution will be preferred for the sake of a number: mean prosecution time. In other words, applicant’s submissions will not be adequately heard and applications will be expeditely refused. Unless the applicant is so big to complain effectively. Of course.

“In the worst case, a small applicant may either give up (if the examiner’s assessment is overly negative) or proceed to grant with an inadequate patent (if the examiner has missed some important clarity or patentability issues).”
      –Anonymous
“For doing this, control of the BoA would be necessary so that the clog to be produced by the increased number of appeals be dealt with in a proper manner, i.e according to the orders of the President.

Now it gets funnier. One person says that the EPO’s PR is “comparable to the voting results at the meeting of the Central Committee of the Bulgarian Communist Party!” To quote the whole comment: “Are you suggesting that the quality of examination at the EPO is down? This simply cannot be possible. According to the last message of the President, in 2015 quality in examination was 98,7%, and 98,6% in search. These results are comparable to the voting results at the meeting of the Central Committee of the Bulgarian Communist Party! (cue to members of the Administrative Council of EPO giving a standing ovation).”

The EPO has been making up the most nonsensical numbers we have ever come across (worse than the USPTO’s, which doesn’t resort to such pretenses). Earlier today the EPO’s PR department repeated these claims yet again, stating that: “Our internal quality rates (CASE indices) were 98.6% for searches and 98.7% for examinations” (nonsense! We rebutted this before).

“Are you suggesting that the quality of examination at the EPO is down?”
      –Anonymous
As the above comment put it: “Are you suggesting that the quality of examination at the EPO is down?” EPO priorities have shifted in favour huge corporations (approval is faster for these, which means more lenient an examination process), so this question must be rhetorical.

As another person put it, “”productivity” results in a massive hike in costs for the EPO’s smaller applicants.”

Here is this comment in full:

Interesting points about quality. Those figures of 98.6% and 98.7% are a great deal more precise than they are accurate, I would venture to suggest.

Just to emphasise my point: a modest gain in examiner “productivity” results in a massive hike in costs for the EPO’s smaller applicants.

Larger applicants don’t suffer the same problem – they have internal attorneys who can sort things out.

“Last year VP1 was complaining about the number of areas giving 100% results as he considered that impossible,” said this shocking comment. “The figures are self-assessment where the errors spotted by your colleagues (friends or foes?) are counted. There are other figures which a separate department calculates which are less North Korean but less impressive in a presentation.”

“If true, then even North Korea seems more honest and sincere (to its citizens) than the EPO is to its own staff.”Now pick your jaws back up from the ground. If true, then even North Korea seems more honest and sincere (to its citizens) than the EPO is to its own staff.

We’ve said it before and we need to say it again just in case; the EPO’s management and the PR team are a bunch of liars. Do not believe anything they say. Whatever they say should be deemed suspect until proven otherwise (by a truly independent assessor, not so-called 'journalists' whom the EPO pays).

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