back to article Patent quality has fallen, confirm Euro examiners

An extraordinary letter from nearly 1,000 patent examiners has confirmed what critics of the European Patent Office (EPO) have been saying for some time: patent quality has fallen thanks to a determined push by management to approve more of them. The letter [PDF] has been sent to the EPO's Administrative Council (AC) – the …

  1. Esme

    There is no point in poor quality patents - such are bad for business, unless your business is being a patent troll or a lawyer. Poor quality patents result in increased costs to businesses generally, which is just about the opposite of what the EU wants. The sooner the farce at the EPO is halted and that dickhead currently in charge of it ousted and replaced by someone more interested in getting the job done properly than in mere numbers processed, the better.

    1. Warm Braw Silver badge

      The problem with international organisations is that they're often seen as opportunities to extract troublesome characters from national organisations, sweetening the deal with promises of prestige and international travel. This "Ark B" approach is unfortunately incompatible with finding "someone more interested in getting the job done"...

  2. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

    How the EU will deal with this...

    ...We put our name under this petition and sign it. However, by fear or reprisal, we request the Central Staff Committee to collect the signed petitions, to file them with a notary lawyer to certify the number of signatures and to send only the text of the present petition...

    This is undermining the good name of the EU, which is illegal. Therefore, we will sub-poena the notary, obtain the names, and threaten to remove their pensions unless they withdraw their complaint....

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: How the EU will deal with this...

      European Patent Office is not an Eu institution. If it was it would have had to comply with a few laws which now Batistelli claims he does not need to.

      1. Siberian Hamster

        Re: How the EU will deal with this...

        An addition to Godwin's Law:

        As an online discussion on the EPO grows longer, the probability of a complaint about it being indicative of a broken EU (and a subsequent pointing out of it not being part of the EU) approaches 1.

        1. Semper Phoenix
          Headmaster

          Re: How the EU will deal with this...

          Shurely, Farage's Maxim (not that Nige deserves the honour of being immortalised like Godwin)?!

    2. EricM

      Re: How the EU will deal with this...

      This is undermining the good name of the EU,

      yes - and rightly so - and especially because the EPO was created as an international organization not bound by EU law. This combined with lack of oversight from the AC created this ridicilous situation in the first place.

      which is illegal.

      by which - international - law exaclty?

      1. AmyInNH

        Re: How the EU will deal with this...

        which is illegal.

        by which - international - law exaclty?

        That is the game, isn't it. Microsoft claiming US law doesn't apply to data they store offshore.

        The only nation a multinational corporation belongs to is whichever one doesn't have a law against what they're trying to escape in the moment.

  3. TonyJ Silver badge

    Yet more evidence...

    ...that this is a deeply broken organisation.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Yet more evidence...

      Just following the USPO in that regard.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    PDF of the petition is missing from the article

    Kieren - can you include the PDF of the petition please - you've just attached a 3 page PDF of the cover letter and doc from the Notary Public. The petition itself (which you quote from extensively) is missing. Thanks

  5. Nick Kew Silver badge

    So it's a race to the bottom

    Except that Europe is at least twenty or thirty years behind the US.

    And some - notably Germans - tend to be too honest to stand for it.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "And some - notably Germans - tend to be too honest to stand for it."

    Have you ever worked in a unionised German company? It's jobsworth central. This change was likely long overdue.

    1. Warm Braw Silver badge

      It's jobsworth central

      See Figure 1...

    2. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      It's jobsworth central.

      I suggest you peruse Batistelli's Bio. He is from the REAL jobsworth central: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C3%89cole_nationale_d%27administration

      That is the golden standard of jobsworthiness. Compared to that the Germans are eager to get the job done and get the job done (albeit, sticking to every letter of the rules while doing so).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "That is the golden standard of jobsworthiness."

        So Batistelli is well qualified for the EPO job then.

  7. ForthIsNotDead Silver badge
    Unhappy

    This is a difficult problem to solve...

    I can't think of a solution that is going to be wholly tenable to both sides, unfortunately.

    I mean, on the one side, as a patent examiner, you want plenty of time to the appropriate due-diligence in order that you can be sure you have taken all reasonable precautions when a decision on the application is made.

    On the other side, if you are a company that has literally spent millions, maybe billions, developing a technology, you want your patent as quickly as possible so that you can put your product on the market and begin to recoup the costs.

    On that note: A note to corporations: We should not lose sight of what patents were originally invented for. They were invented to allow a company/individual an opportunity to recoup development costs. That's the entire point of a patent. They are not there (or, at least, it was never the intention) to provide profit-making opportunities through technological monopolies. Though of course, it's inevitable that that would happen.

    Apple and your "rounded edges" on mobile phones: I'm looking at you, you total twats.

    We're between a rock and a hard place on patents, it seems.

    1. tfewster Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: This is a difficult problem to solve...

      "Patent pending"

    2. Cuddles Silver badge

      Re: This is a difficult problem to solve...

      "On the other side, if you are a company that has literally spent millions, maybe billions, developing a technology, you want your patent as quickly as possible so that you can put your product on the market and begin to recoup the costs."

      See the article - even the companies applying for patents have been complaining about the EPO. Yes, a company wants its own patents approved quickly, but it's also very much in their interest to ensure that competitors and trolls can't get crap patents approved that could be used against them, as well as to have the system as a whole trusted so their own patents are less likely to be challenged. Since protection is given from the filing date, not the date a patent is actually granted, most companies are happier with a patent office that takes the time to do the job properly than with one that just rushes everything through as fast as possible.

      "Apple and your "rounded edges" on mobile phones: I'm looking at you, you total twats."

      This gets brought up a lot, but you have to remember that not all IP systems are the same. Apple does not have a patent on rounded corners. In the USA, they have a "design patent". In Europe, that's known as a registered design, and is much more similar to a trademark than an actual patent. An awful lot of the things causing arguments that invoke the word "patent" actually only use that word in the US, and have nothing to do with any issues the EPO might have since we don't even call them patents over here.

  8. Eddy Ito Silver badge

    It's only going to get worse especially if the European office starts down the same road the US office has been on. While I hopefully think we're starting to move on from the 'on a mobile' patent dross I fear we're going to be inundated shortly by 'with a drone'1 patents.

    1. That's just a list of Wally World's US applications as I saw them mentioned on Reuters this morning.

  9. PyLETS
    Flame

    Give a guy a license to print money

    And he'd run the printers at full speed wouldn't he ? That's what a patent granting office has, in the sense each patent is a monopoly and collects application fees, more of which are likely to be paid the more likely it is for a patent application to be granted.

    Low quality patents are a cost for everyone else. You run a small business, which a large business says treads on an obvious patent ? You can't afford the few million in legal fees to have it questioned ? Your business now has to pay tribute, or goes bust or can only afford to continue if taken over. If you pay for a product or service which requires patent licenses it's going to cost you more and we all pay more for such products and services.

  10. AmyInNH

    Not surprised. Many create patents for: company bonus for doing so, and for resume fodder (golly, gee! must be a brain storm if they have a patent! Not.) Coworker ginned up $100K of income on bogus patents, to buy his first house.

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