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German Media Shows Discriminatory EPO Practices More Than Just a 'Pilot' (Reaching Second Half of 2016), Started When Microsoft Pressured EPO (Lodged Complaints)

EPO Photo credit: Heise



Summary: Techrights' revelations about a Microsoft-EPO agreement (extend favouritism in exchange for more money in the form of patent applications) are now mainstream news in Germany

TECHRIGHTS continues to gather more information and improve clarity of this information. The EPO's highly controversial program turns out to have started with Microsoft (and because of Microsoft) based on what the EPO's spokesperson said the other day. Microsoft is not even a European company, not to mention its notorious record of patent extortion against small European companies (such as TomTom).



Meanwhile, as I only discovered this morning, this story becomes major news in Germany's newspapers and even radio. SUEPO uploaded copies today [PDF] (we have made this local copy because the EPO is trying to take down information using what is essentially threats).

Coming from Germany's biggest IT newspaper, here is a report for which SUEPO provided French and English translations. Here is the English translation:

English translation

Memo Shock: European Patent Office suspected of giving priority to major clients like Microsoft



12.10.2015 17:06

Stefan Krempl

The blog “Techrights” has leaked an internal memo from the European Patent Office revealing that the Office is shortly aiming to offer ten major clients a “better service” as part of a pilot project.

The European Patent Office (EPO) wants to give preferential treatment to certain clients by way of a better "Esprit de Service", and so strengthen the bond between them. The revelation comes from an internal memo dating from February, which "Techrights" leaked on Monday. According to this, as part of a pilot project ten major clients will shortly be benefitting from improved services for a year.

Appearing on the proposal list of those chosen for the test run starting in April are Microsoft, Canon, Siemens, Philips, Qualcomm, BASF, Bayer, Ericsson & Fujitsu. Whether the South Korean giant Samsung and Chinese network specialist Huawei will also be brought in is still under discussion.

Biggest clients

The justification given is that in 2013 the companies were the biggest clients from the different technological sectors and geographical areas involved. The range extends from 600 patent applications from Microsoft to 2833 made by Samsung. Many of the firms were chosen because of the “strength of the existing contacts”, which would make the “fast tracking” of the pilot project easier to carry through. Plans are for the project to be extended to other partners in the second half of 2016.

The Munich-based Office, currently being rocked by a series of scandals, is hoping to achieve more efficient deployment of its resources as a result of the improved cooperation, as well as better technical training and higher “production”. The aim is that it should also be possible to react more specifically to patent applications with special personnel, and to forecast the work involved more accurately. The overall aim is to coordinate things better, and settle the arrangements more readily.

VIP treatment?

According to the leaked document, the initiative comes from the part of the Patent Office which is responsible for information and communications technologies. Word from there has it that Microsoft has lodged complaints about 450 applications which had apparently been put on hold and not dealt with further. Canon are also said to have drawn up a comparable list of applications which have been described as “blatantly delayed”. In response, it seems that a start has been made on tackling the backlog, with special sectors from Siemens, such as for wind turbines and underwater connections, being brought in as well.

For Techrights blogger Roy Schestowitz, the whole business seems more than questionable, in many respects. On the one hand, the EPO is behaving less like an international authority dedicated to serving the public, and increasingly like a private company. On the other, there seems no justification at all for a large number of major concerns from outside Europe benefitting from this “VIP treatment”. Up to now, the EPO has still made no comment to enquiries from heise online. (axk)


Other German newspapers have covered this as well. To quote one of them, "Microsoft und neun andere Großkunden sollen in einem Pilotprojekt des Europäischen Patentamts von einem "besseren Service" profitieren. Dies legt ein interner Aktenvermerk nahe, den der Blog "Techrights" veröffentlicht hat."

The German public is being made aware of what is seemingly EPO institutional corruption. Based on information that we have, English-speaking media is going to hammer the EPO pretty hard in weeks to come. Techrights revelations about EPO were on Swiss radio as well, so the word is evidently spreading and EPO managers in Munich are growingly nervous.

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