06.18.16

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Brain Drain at the EPO: Qualified Patent Examiners Leave in Droves, Young Ones Blindly Loyal to Management Reduce Patent Quality

Posted in Europe, Patents at 5:51 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Some people vote with their feet, not just in the streets

Munich EPO protest

Summary: Patent quality at the European Patent Office is being abandoned under Battistelli’s regime (in the name of so-called ‘production’) and “highly qualified A4s leave the Office,” according to a source of ours

EARLIER this week there was a spontaneous protest at the EPO. Staff went out in protest and passionately demonstrated in the streets of Germany. Whereas we have published photos from protests in The Hague and in Munich a few days before that (a scheduled protest, not a spontaneous one for the aforementioned reasons), we still have no photos from the spontaneous protest, but here are some details:

Staff unrest:

- despite being organised for a second time in less than a week in MUNICH, between 1000 and 1200 EPO colleagues spontaneously demonstrated in front of the EPO building on Monday and in Berlin [the following morning]. In both sites resolutions have been adopted requesting the following:

o “to stop the repeated, egregious abuses of power by Mr Battistelli, and

o to reinstall Ion Brumme and Malika Weaver in full, pending an independent investigation into the disciplinary and other sanctions imposed by Mr Battistelli on Ion Brumme and Malika Weaver, and on other staff representatives.“

None of this has happened. Every demand, even from the Administrative Council (which can in theory fire Battistelli as it should), falls on Battistelli’s deaf ears. This isn’t an indication of thick skin (watch him lose his mind when criticised) but megalomania. He has come to believe he is above the law and nobody can tell him what to do, not even the supervisory board. This kind of Hubris is unheard of in much of Europe, even in Cecilia Malmström’s notorious department.

It recently came to our attention that with or without Battistelli leaving, there seems to be infighting in Team Battistelli (cracks in the ‘cult’) and the most valuable workers of the Office are leaving [1, 2, 3, 4], including top managers. Someone shared some numbers with us.

“It recently came to our attention that with or without Battistelli leaving, there seems to be infighting in Team Battistelli (cracks in the ‘cult’) and the most valuable workers of the Office are leaving, including top managers.”Surely, if the Office lost all workers except Team Battistelli, that would leave the Office in disarray. It would get the message across, but it’s definitely not ideal as it makes the EPO, which Battistelli has put at existential risk, effectively defunct. What we’re seeing right now is not just profound decline in patent quality but also examiners. Now that “the pension reform is upon us,” told us one person (this is expected next year), “that will lead to a lot of people leaving the office [...] one would need honest people at the top and this is hard in an institution where people are selected for their willingness to serve the top management [...] the thing is that the young will feel pressured to produce much from the very beginning (which is already happening) [...] they also have short-term contracts.”

As we shall show in later posts, Team Battistelli uses searches as yardsticks, not actual quality. They treat people like robots. Patent “quality will not be the same,” the person told us, “especially if the highly qualified A4s leave the office [...] I’ve seen some names on the retirement lists and I know them as less than 60 and top examiners” (that’s about 1% of examiners, but they’re the “top examiners”, not some arbitrary new starters). They are very much necessary, but “they leave anyway,” we are told. Patent “quality drop is also not very visible because there aren’t so many oppositions anyway,” we were told, “probably about 4% [...] and dealt with by UPC” (if that ever becomes a reality at all, in which case the appeals professionals will get crushed).

“I’ve seen some names on the retirement lists and I know them as less than 60 and top examiners…”
      –Anonymous
The person added: “it wouldn’t surprise me to see Battistelli jumping from EPO to UPC, especially if the Socialists lose the elections and Sarko comes to power” (Sarkozy and Battistelli are politically connected and there’s precedence at FIFA with Michel Platini).

“I can’t say there’s much hope,” we got old, “but it’s our duty to stand up for the right thing [...] for me the worst thing is not the financial loss but his nepotism that starts the whole avalanche.”

It does not help when Battistelli chooses to bring over, into a Vice-President position, a man who faces many criminal charges in his home country (where the alleged crime reportedly even led to suicide).

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