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Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Life as a patent examiner according to the EPO - paid-for article in the New Scientist

Fresh from publishing the thoughts of a former member of the Boards of Appeal of the European Patent Office, Merpel just noticed this article: A day in the life of a patent examiner appearing in the New Scientist.

Merpel was immediately struck by the byline "The interview was produced by New Scientist in conjunction with the European Patent Office, which paid for it to be produced."  Need the EPO be paying for publication about the career path of an Examiner in order to attract suitable candidates?

Merpel wonders what readers think about the article itself, and whether the EPO should be paying for placement of such pieces.

36 comments:

Anonymous said...

I had expected rather better than this from the New Scientist, a magazine for which hitherto I have always had the highest respect. Tip for anyone thinking of applying to be an EPO Examiner: you might find more information of interest and relevance to your future employment on FOSS patents, the Ipkat and other blogs than you will from going to epo.org/espacenet.

I wonder what other organisations the New Scientist can be paid to promote?

Anonymous said...

I sleep all night, I work all day, to pay the bills I have to pay
Ain't too bad
And when they’re paid there’s still a sizeable amount that’s left for me
Makes me glad! In my dreams I have a plan
To become a wealthy man
I check on patents filed by all, I fool around and have a ball...

Money, money, money
Really funny
In this rich man's world
Money, money, money
Always sunny
In this rich man's world
Aha-ahaaa
All the things I can do
‘Cos I have a lot of money
In this rich man's world!

The perks we have are hard to find, to them I’m totally resigned
Ain't no fad!
We’re paying no ones income tax, the atmosphere’s pretty relaxed
Great launch-pad
For a future in IP
As a well-paid patent attorney
And make a fortune in that game, my life will never be the same...

Money, money, money
Really funny
In this rich man's world
Money, money, money
Always sunny
In this rich man's world
Aha-ahaaa
All the things I can do
‘Cos I have a lot of money
In this rich man's world!


But in this ointment there’s a fly, that’s known to all and sundry by
Benny Batt!
He’s trying to end Elysium by introducing his kingdom
Autocrat!
Thinks he’s got je ne sais quoi
But in truth it is L’état, c’est moi
Suspending members of the Board, that has the whole of Europe floored

Money, money, money
Not so funny
In this rich man's world
Money, money, money
Things are gummy
In this rich man's world
Aha-ahaaa
All the things I can’t do
In this gilded cage of of money
In this rich man's world!

Anonymous said...

"The interview was produced by New Scientist in conjunction with the European Patent Office, which paid for it to be produced."
Giving interviews clearly belongs to "activities outside our normal operational business in DG1" in VP1´s definition. So it is only fair to pay a bonus for it.

Anonymous said...

DESPARATE DESPARATE DESPARATE

Anonymous said...

No problem with advertisement.

Maybe the EPO is trying to hire Sheldon Cooper (Notice however that Dr Cooper found the solution when working for free at the cheesecake factory).

https://bigbangtrans.wordpress.com/series-3-episode-14-the-einstein-approximation/

Anonymous said...

EPO shouldn't save on a language editor. Word repetitions everywhere …

MaxDrei said...

I approve of the EPO paying for this New Scientist article.

I want top quality Examiners at the EPO. I see far too few with English as their first language. they are below-quota, aren't they? I don't want DG1 to be populated with people with poor technical knowledge and weak analytical skills, who get the job because, first, they can perform after a fashion in French and German and, sacond, because there ain't anybody applying who is any better than them.

Besides, the article is accurate, isn't it?

SG said...

Maybe there's a comma missing?

"The interview was produced by New Scientist, in conjunction with the European Patent Office, which paid for it to be produced."

Anonymous said...

Loving the lyrics to the new EPO anthem, very funny. Lap it up whilst you can - make hay whilst the sun shines. It can't last much longer.

I constantly ask the attorneys how they are advising clients on the the new Unified Patent - all the people I have asked say they are advising clients to opt out (and of course opting in will depend on the fee structure - any news on that yet?). This will lead to political pressure to get people to use the new system. Ryan Air politics will ensue and I see a large opt out fee being levied to gently persuade people to use the UP. This will lead many to abandon the EPO altogether and resort to national application instead. And so, in giant lead for Europe we take a step back in time 35 years! Well done everyone!

So, like I say, make hay whilst the sun shines...

Anonymous said...

Well they have to recruit somehow.

Seems pretty reasonable to me. The payment is clearly called out at the very top of the piece.

In the end it's just an advert.

Anonymous said...

Oh my, it's some kind of normal PR, isn't it? If they asked a patent attorney, would you expect to read how many overhours he is forced to make and that the pay isn't that good in regards the workload? Or if they'd ask a schientist in company XY's labs, would you expect to read how dragging the lab-work can be and how uninspiring it may be to perform the n-th iteration of some test just to learn after one year that the project is cancelled?

Always look on the bright side of life ...

Anonymous said...

Any connection with the EPO having a new Director of Recruitment and Talent Management?

Congrats on the EPO being 44th (equal) out of 150 in Germany when 1100 or so young engineers (aged under 40) were asked to name the top 5 companies they wanted to work for from a list of 150. Admittedly 1.69% actually meant only 19 or so but nevertheless... Wonder how many they would have got elsewhere...

Anonymous said...

Further questions:
Is it appropriate for the EPO's President to spend 1.5 millions Euros for marketing patents in the CNN TV program "ask Quest";
Is it appriopriate for the EPO to organize every year the event "Inventor of the year" which also costs a few millions? Is it reasonable to select about 15 inventions out of the many and declare them the best of the year? Shouldn't the office remain above the parties and see all inventions as "equal"?

Fossilized said...

Long ago, before the Battistellian era, the EPO used to perform a Human Capital Survey. A way to take the company's temperature. To the question "would you advise a friend to join the EPO", I always answered YES. Under BB, this healthy habit disappeared since "we know what they will answer".
To friends and newcomers I give now the same advise:"stay away from the EPO as much as you can, as long as you can".
Signing with Mephistopheles assured Faust of a brillant life and the hell afterwards.
Signing with BB guaranties a hell of a professional life and no life at all after retirement.

Anonymous said...

The article itself is innocuous enough.

Would the questions that now seem preeminent on the mind of existing examiners be allowed to be asked in such a puff piece?

Anonymous said...

The EPO is apparently having difficulties in recruiting examiners, as shown also by the fact cited in the interview that they recruit also examiners without the necessary language skills.

So I think that they did well in paying for this interview, which seems factually correct, to attract candidates.

It is surely a better investment than inventor of the year or the Battistelli-Kongstad interview (if they paid to made it available for free).

Anonymous said...

I'm not acquainted with the interviewed person, but I note that she was issued an office mobile phone since the early years of her career, suggesting delegated managerial responsibilities.

This might help explain the tone of the piece.

Anonymous said...

From the NewScientist:
"it's possible to be employed on a three-year contract, which becomes permanent once you have acquired sufficient skills in the third language."
An acquaintance of mine was hired on contract by the EPO some years back and spoke only English. A clause of her contract specified that she had six months to master both French and German.
However, her supervisor told her not to worry: whatever she managed to learn in those six months would be deemed sufficient.
In other words, English s-only speakers do apply, if that is your cup of tea.
If they like you, they will keep you after three years, even if you have only learned six words of German and\or French in the meantime ...
but beware if they don't like you, because you will never attain what is considered an acceptable level, and out you will go.

Anonymous said...

"What's nice is that you're not judged on where you come from. Once you're in, you're judged purely on what you do – there's no hierarchy based on which university or school you attended."

Although it may help a bit to have ENA connections.

http://suepo.org/public/su14062cp.pdf

Anonymous said...

Anon 1019,
Mmm. So the way to express your worry is to try to discredit all examiners? And why do you even assume the earlier comment was from an examiner? That comment apparently had identified a fact and corrected an earlier incorrect suggestion. I don't know if she was still an examiner when interviewed - maybe it was recent or old? Who knows? Nobody has suggested she had misled anyone as far as I read above. Perhaps it just is an ironic event without deeper significance?
Play the ball, not the man?

Anonymous said...

"We are all examiners now".

So, when I refer to examiners, I include all those freedom fighters laying down their lives for the good of weak and hard-done-by-employees of the EPO.

JUSTICE FOR THE EPO 5000

I don't know how the President manages to feed such a number.

Anonymous said...

Anon 1141,
Poor taste and not relevant. If somebody said what you quote (I can't find it here), then that is equally unfortunate. Otherwise, your satire is uncalled for.

Anonymous said...

Poor taste?

Get real.

Anonymous said...

More than more poor taste. I am greatly offended to be considered a member of the examiner species. No offence to examiners intended, of course.

Anonymous said...

It seems to be a common meme (but no less silly for its redundancy) that "accusing" someone of being an examiner is taking the place of a substantive post on the contents of the discussion here.

The ad homninem nature of "you only say THAT because you are an examiner has become a cheap and tawdry smokescreen from actually addressing the THAT that has been stated.

Let's see some better focus in the comments please.

Anonymous said...

Except the comment above wasn't an accusation that someone was an examiner but a criticism of the comments that examiners and their kindred spirits have been making. Unless you deny that examiners have been lambasting the president and everything he does and everyone associated with him?

It is such a bland out down to dismiss a comment in such a way because it does not champion the cause of those disgruntled ********* at the EPO (******* is not a rude word, but I can't think of a way of referring to examiners without using the word examiners).

As for the "you only say THAT because...", I haven't seen it used that way.

And finally,

can we have less of the usage of 'ad hominem' in italics or otherwise on this blog. If everyone wants to use latin then we should write the whole comment in it.

Anonymous said...

The President is casting his net on the other side of the boat hoping to make a useful catch.

Anonymous said...

"we do our best, in the knowledge that there is always more to be done and that much of what we do can be done better by others."

Well said.

But perhaps it is worth pointing out that the present mess at the EPO would never have arisen if those "others" had in fact done that which they allegedly can do much better but which they unfortunately seem to have omitted to do presumably on the lazy pretext that it was "Somebody Else's Job".

Anonymous said...

Anon 1318,
I think shares in company X are worth having (but actually I won't tell you I've just sold mine)?
There are certain rules about misleading advertising and this was a paid for slot.

Anonymous said...

"There are certain rules about misleading advertising and this was a paid for slot.

The EPO management is currently heavily dependent on "paid for slots"
http://en.45lines.com/apology-zeljko-topic-regarding-deleted-article-regarding-epo/

The funny thing is that the operator of that web site hasn't yet published the request for rectification that was submitted to him.

To find that you have to look here:
http://techrights.org/2015/01/20/vesna-stilins-vs-zeljko-topic/

Join the dots and see what emerges.

Now just a question: were EPO funds used to secure the "Apology" ?

Do EPO "users" or the general public have a right to know ?

Anonymous said...

The EPO has in the last year stopped respecting the EPC, and the production pressure generates the profits.

The brave new ISO certified EPO has invented a wanderfull tool of CASE to record the quality. The point of CASE is to allow just the chairman to discuss the case with the first examiner if he questions the proposed grant, and the second member does not even get informed that only part of the Examining Division is discusing the case.

Forget the Art. 18(2) and the Guidelines. The second member is there only for formal check and should not sacrifice his time for any substantive issues...

Anonymous said...

It would seem that Ms. Smith-Hewitt isn't averse to a bit of "extra work" as a translator:
http://mfh-verlag.de/content/contact.html

Should do well under the new career system !

Anonymous said...

But there is the chance for rapid promotion as long as you aren't examining. The Belgian VP1 has just promoted to Principal Director a Belgian member of his office. Nice. A3 to A4 in 2010. A4 to A5 in 2012 and now A5 to A6.


Meanwhile Le French Pres has promoted a French member of his office to Head of Office. Which must make for easier times in the HR head's household since the new Head of Office is her husband. Cosy. Not sure which other head of an international organisation manages to find two senior members of his team in the one family. Conflicts of interest anyone?

Anonymous said...

I would have thought the prospects for new examiners are somewhat limited. Here is where the future lies:

http://www.epo.org/about-us/jobs/vacancies/other/EUR-5762.html

Anonymous said...

Ms Smith-Hewitt is an examiner at the European Patent Office (www.epo.org), and an experienced chairperson of oral proceedings in both examination and opposition phases.
She is a Fellow of the Institution of Chemical Engineers (www.icheme.org).

Anonymous said...

Every cloud has a silver lining. Sales of violins in Munich are at record levels keeping the Stradivarius family happy.

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