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Friday, 23 January 2015

"New career system" for EPO Examiners: take on extra work

Examiner by day, novelist by night 
A product of the free market system, this moggy likes the idea that people can use their spare time for money-generating activities.  It doesn't matter whether they use those extra, unaccounted-for hours driving a taxi, writing racy novelettes or growing marrows: the idea is the same.  Leisure time is put to productive use, the work ethic is put into practice and you don't mind when there's nothing decent to watch on the TV.

The European Patent Office has spotted this human urge to be profitably occupied. To this end it has circulated the following missive, reproduced below in full:
13.01.2015

New approach being put in place
DG1 is facing challenging production plans. Examiner capacity for search, examination and opposition is being maximised to achieve these goals. Besides other initiatives to increase core time, all investments where examiners are involved in so-called "section Ill" activities, for support of projects or other DG plans, were revisited and rationalised. The "section lll" envelope covers the time budgets for projects and activities outside our normal operational business in DG1.

Budget owners and projects leaders have been asked to reprioritise their work plans and to consider using external or non-examiner internal resources where possible. For a number of activities examiner competencies are however needed. For those activities and under certain conditions as explained below, the possibility is being created under the new career system to have the related contribution financially rewarded under the conditions laid down in the Service Regulations (cf. CA/84/14 Add.1 rev 1, new proposed Article 48a on Bonus).

The goal is that those projects or departments needing examiner support will publish "work packages" which indicate what needs to be done, by when and within which monetary budget. The work packages will not cover recurring activities which form part of normal operational examiner business.

Interested examiners can apply for those work packages and a selection among the candidate examiners will be made by the project or budget holder concerned together with the examiners' line management.

Participation is subject to the achievement of performance levels in accordance with the examiner objectives (search, examination, opposition production and quality) set up front. The individual contribution to these extra activities should be organised such that the normal performance in terms of products and the normal working pattern is not impacted.

The selected person will consequently be rewarded for his/her contribution by a bonus defined in the work package at the end of each quarter in accordance with the work done and under the condition that the core performance has remained the same during the period.

Each employee remains fully responsible for the effective and prompt performance of his duties. However to safeguard the employees well-being, the selected person should ensure that he/she remains within the framework of Art. 55(2) ServRegs as well as in the guidelines on arrangement of working hours in contribution to those extra activities.

This new mechanism to reward extra activities will enable the Office to achieve its operational commitments, in combination with the work done on projects for other departments in the Office.
Guillaume Minnoye

Vice President DG1
The text might be a bit opaque in places, but the overall sentiment is clear.  The EPO is seeking to discharge its multifarious functions without increasing its staff head-count and establishment costs (and without therefore needing to set aside further sums for staff pensions). It seems, therefore, that examiners are being invited to perform non-examining functions in additional to a normal examining workload, for additional financial reward, rather than replacing any examining workload.

Such a system may have merit and benefit when there is trust between examiners and the management of the administration.  When that trust is diminished, as it seems it is today, some examiners may be concerned that the system lacks transparency and seems open to manipulation.  It is also not clear how the adherence to arrangements for overall working hours is to be expected.

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54 comments:

Anonymous said...

The gist of it? Salaries will be cut, production targets go up and we bring everybody back to do the things that he promised i.e. get a target number of products. If you do the extra production despite losing salary and pension you will be able to take on overtime to earn a bonus to bring your salary (but not pension) back to where it was.
Curiously, he seems to say that some tasks aren't essential and don't count as normal work but nevertheless are needed and can only be done by examiners (since the use of other resources isn't suitable).

Anonymous said...

When I was an EPO examiner back in the 80s I worked as a ballet teacher in my spare time (with the approval of the EPO)...a welcome relief from detailed consideration of new optical fibre connectors.

Anonymous said...

Why not move to piece work on zero-hours contracts? Then we would only get paid for each 'product'* we produce.

I am sure this would encourage us all to work harder and achieve that extra productivity which we are all striving for without any hint of efficiency squandered in superfluous things like reading the dossier, searching properly, finding the time to consult colleagues, keeping up-to-date with technology, etc.

Perhaps I should put that forward as an award scheme suggestion...

Now, where did I put my rubber stamp? You know, the big one with ‘GRANTED’ on it...

*Modern EPOspeak for each search report or final action in examination

Anonymous said...

I doubt examiners undertaking these extra tasks will focus on properly doing their job - searching and examining patent applications in conformity with the EPC and within a reasonable time.
Why caring about carrying out these activities painstakingly, when you can maintain production targets by issuing rubbish search reports and communications and at the same time earn extra money? It appears - at least by reading some comments in this blog - that there are users of the system that think the work of EPO examiners is rubbish. It might well be, I am not questioning this point of view. My question to the same people however is: do you really believe these extra paid activities will lead to an improvement of the situation?
I doubt it very much.
(I am one of those much-despised examiners, in case you are wondering, and certainly have some understanding for those comments, although I often find their tone inappropriate)

Anonymous said...

I’m Examiner and I’m okay
I work all night and I work all day
(He’s Examiner and he’s okay
He works all night and he works all day!)

By day my thing’s examining
Idees for novelty
By night I earn my bonus
With new activities!

(By day his thing’s examining
Idees for novelty
By night he earns his bonus
With new activities!
He’s Examiner and he’s okay
He works all night and he works all day!)

I will not shirk some packaged work
If it earns extra bunce
And those who just ignore this
Are clearly simply dunce!

(He will not shirk some packaged work
If it earns extra bunce
And those who just ignore this
Are clearly simply dunce!
He’s Examiner and he’s okay
He works all night and he works all day!)

I earn big fees, by doing these
New things outside my core
It pleases Billy Minnoye
And leaves me wanting more!

(He earns big fees, by doing these
New things outside his core
It pleases Billy Minnoye
And leaves him wanting more!
He’s Examiner and he’s okay
He works all night and he works all day!)

When do I sleep? Well, that can keep
To earn I’ll buckle down
And at the end I’ll give me
The best fun’ral in town!

(When does he sleep? Well, that can keep
To earn he’ll buckle down
And at the end he’ll give him
The best fun’ral in town!
He’s Examiner and he’s okay
He works all night and he works all day!
He’s Examiner and he’s okayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy
Heworksallnightandheworksallday!)

Anonymous said...

This is just management "by madness".
Disgusting!
By the way, this Minnoye stil has to explain his insulting comments on Sir Robin's et al letter.

Anonymous said...

Consider examiner, many years experienced. Has been pushed for long time to produce more, produce more, grant more, do not refuse because grant is quick. But examiner is good, knows work and knows to do it well. Has sense of responsible. This examiner has already done work at home. Take documents him to classify because classify does nit count any more for production. Takes applications home for reading, because no time left for reading. Nor Sir Guillaume offer more homework as compensating lost salaries. This examiner is not wanted.
Examiner is wanted to search but quick quick cite some document, but not looking hard. If finding good document is hard granting. Better finding bad document. Oh look, document is not close must be great invention. Quick quick grant patent. No, but first writing objection. Is not clear, is not new, so everyone see how good quality is now. Is ok because quick quick granting after. If not quick granting, will be investigated. Not quick means bad, means you are cheating office.

Anonymous said...

It would be potentially more interesting to know which activities precisely are referred to and can only be carried out by examiners. I seem to recall quite a few opportunities of doing work not directly related to search / examination / opposition of patent applications and patents and obtaining a reduction in productivity targets as a result while remaining on normal salary. Perhaps it is these activities that the management wishes to "outsource" to its own employees ?

Sue Ratcliffe said...

The EPO management is really having a melt-down. Perhaps we attorneys can offer to moonlight and actually get some cases through in a reasonable time frame….

Anonymous said...

According to something said in a meeting I attended recently, DG1 administration has not yet actually worked out which activities will be 'in-outsourced' in this way. There are already problems in some areas in seeing how such an idea could be implemented, as the activities involved take place in normal working time e.g. training given to external users.

This called 'joined-up governance'.

Anonymous said...


How this could for example work, can be seen in amicus curiae brief of 28.11.2014 in EP1814480:
https://register.epo.org/application?number=EP05851833&lng=en&tab=doclist
Just change the rules of procedure in order to accelerate the proceedings. Give the examiners more power to shorten procedure and to reject applications for formal reasons. Cut the procedural possibilities of attorneys and parties!

Anonymous said...

@Sue Ratcliffe:

Well, I am sure if attorneys were drafted in, there would be many more rapid grants... with a corresponding increase in successful oppositions.

Why does everybody think they can do my job?

Anonymous said...

I don't know that the comment about the EPO not wanting to increase headcount is correct: according to a job advert on the CIPA web site, they are seeking to recruit more than 150 examiners in 2015:

Engineers & Scientists for Patent examiners
Join Europe’s second largest international organisation!

In 2015 the European Patent Office plans to recruit more than 150 engineers and scientists to work as patent examiners Our engineers and scientists - drawn from over 30 different European countries - work at the cutting edge of technology, examining the latest inventions in every technical field in order to protect and promote innovation in Europe. Their daily work combines scientific expertise with analytical research and an eye for the legal aspects of intellectual property.

If you have a degree in physics, chemistry, engineering or the natural sciences, a good working knowledge of at least two of our official languages (English, French and German) and the willingness to learn the third, you too could be part of our team of patent examiners in Munich, The Hague or Berlin.

We offer We offer a competitive net salary (EUR 4.400-6.500 per month, depending on experience) as well as various benefits and allowances. Apply now for our Spring Selection Events Submit your application by using the link below. Click here to apply!

Upon successful completion of a Skype interview, you will be invited to participate in our Spring Selection Event in The Hague or Munich, lasting 1 - 2 days in March.

Deadline The deadline for applications is 2 February 2015 for Munich and 16 February 2015 for The Hague. To find out more about working as a patent examiner, our Spring Selection Events, and for details of our benefits package, visit our website: epo.org/about-us/jobs/vacancies/examiners

Agency calls are not appreciated.


Perhaps they are having difficulty in attracting new recruits?

Anonymous said...

Dear Examiners
Please continue to do your job, as I am sure most of you do, with rigour, honesty and a sense of pride in a job well done.

Dear Attorneys
Please continue to do your job, as I am sure most of you do, representing clients with rigour, honesty and a sense of a job well done.

Together, albeit on opposite sides of the argument sometimes, we ensure quality of European Patents and can best support the system that has worked well for 40 years. Plus, you can hold your head up high.

That being said, there is a case for supporting the national judiciaries' observations on the present situation at the EPO, and calling for proper oversight by the Administrative Council, and continued and real independence of the Boards of Appeal, (separation into a separate entity - as suggested is BBs solution by some observers - should NOT be done without full and careful consultation with all stakeholders. Indeed, ANY substantive changes at the EPO should be subject to careful consultation with ALL stakeholders.

We are in this together folks!

Anonymous said...

This is a great steak holder

US2297825

Anonymous said...

US2297825 Mr BOBO's patent

BB = BOBO, get it?

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:24 asked what are referred to. Basically experienced examiners do such events as "Search- or Examination Matters", they teach & coach younger examiners of course, they help the academy and they are involved in the EQE, for example. In short, they promote and maintain the quality of the EPO, often working together with the "users".
With the new measures (on top of the pay-freeze for the rest of their careers and the production targets often over 50% extra) I'm struggling to see a motivation to volunteer for such extra duties in the future, and indeed the subtle warning not to do too much in the interests of "well being" give them a further hint, should it be necessary.
Another nail in the quality coffin? It smacks rather of harmonisation with our friends across the pond, so why is it not going harmoniously?

It's nice of Anon 14;22 to say for both sides to continue to do your job - and I can fully support this appeal - but it does seem to be a bit of an uphill struggle for examiners just at the moment.

Anonymous said...

Still my favourite stake holder.

Anonymous said...

When examiners are punished for a job well done and are promised a bonus for quick searches and grants, it will be very difficult for them to keep up some sort of quality.

As to stakeholders, the boards do not seem to be regarded as stakeholders, because the reforms of DG3 seem to be well under way, but the boards have not been involved, not even informed of what is going on.

With the level of knowledge of the patent granting process demonstrated by EPO management, what can one expect?

Anonymous said...

Well, as long as the examiner does not write hermetic poetry as a communication...

It would be stupid of anyone to ask for such a task because it would mean that he/she is not working to his/her full potential, so when the projects ends he would have to produce even more.

I wonder what makes GM think that a patent office can function as a consulting company?

Anonymous said...

This system of Bonus, usually works quite well. When I worked in Africa, it was usual that a director allocates a bonus to himself and to his friends.
The president of the country, of course, was excellent. He estimates himself that he works so hard that it became obvious he must receive a very high bonus.

At the EPO, I suppose it will be the same: Small bonus for the staff (if bonus), high bonus for the directors, very high bonus for the vice-presidents, jackpot for the president.

Who will pay? That´s another question.

Anonymous said...

SCENE 1

DIRECTOR
Ah, Examiner A, come in please. How’re you?
You know Newbie joins us next week?

EXAMINER A
I do. We finally have someone. Work has not been
done.

DIRECTOR
Yes, good, but Newbie needs training and you will do it.

EXAMINER A
Me? Cool. I hope I will be good in it.

DIRECTOR
You are one of my experienced examiners, and you are high producer. You will teach Newbie that. I can rely on you to teach Newbie and do your work. EPO customers need that.

EXAMINER A
Did you say I teach Newbie and do own work? It’s like 20% teaching, 80% my own work?

DIRECTOR
Oh, do not worry, Newbie is really good. We are very careful in recruiting now. All sorts of tests. No, Newbie is fine, just get him to speed. We get new examiner to get our products out, not to slow down. I know you Examiner a. I can rely on you.

EXAMINER A
I remember my training. After the first few weeks, all in the classroom, were many things I did not know. My tutor took a lot of time. I wouldn’t be no good now, if he had not.

DIRECTOR
Thing is different now, Examiner A. We have to work smarter. The customer are waiting for products. They pay for patent and must to get one. It isn’t fair to be waiting years.

EXAMINER A
Then I don’t think I can be a tutor, Director. I can’t teach properly if you won’t let me have the time to do it. Newbie needs more than chatting in the lunch time.

DIRECTOR
I’m very disappointed, Examiner A, really very disappointed. You have a lot to offer Newbie.

EXAMINER A
But I need to concentrate on my work, sort of what it can be granted and what it can’t. You will find someone else, but really you need better training. It cost something now but you get something later.

DIRECTOR
Well, thank you, Examiner A. Don’t worry, I’ll find someone who can teach Newbie.

Anonymous said...

SCENE 2

DIRECTOR
Ah, Examiner B. Is you. Come in please.
You know Newbie joins us next week?

EXAMINER B
Yes. Examiner A is tutor?

DIRECTOR
No, it is a good chance for someone else. I think you would be good trainer for Newbie.

EXAMINER B
Me? I do not now how to say. I am very new.

DIRECTOR
You are not new now, Examiner B. And you know how to organise work fast and you have good quality. You always find three documents. Sometimes four documents. You know the right balance.


EXAMINER B
Oh, it is hard to do it and you know I do not think I am fast. I know I need to do more.

DIRECTOR
Examiner B, you do not write long communications. That means you can concentrate on essential. You always find objection. You say claim 1 is not clear and the applicant makes amendment and it is good. That shows how you always watch high quality. Then you can grant patent and the customer is happy. He does not make complaint to the boss.


EXAMINER B
Yes, well, you know the EPC says we have to grant patents.

DIRECTOR
That is the attitude we need, Examiner B. That is why you can be trainer.

EXAMINER B
What do I have to do?

DIRECTOR
You just show Newbie how you do work. He will learn from you. It will be good for your career.

EXAMINER B
Do I get time?

DIRECTOR
If it does not affect production, you can take what time you need. But Newbie will not need much.

EXAMINER B
I have to do as many file as now?

DIRECTOR
Yes, it is a challenge to you. If you don’t think you can do it you should say. Examiner A will do it.

EXAMINER B
No, no, I am sure. I can do it. Thank you, thank you.

Anonymous said...

SCENE 3

DIRECTOR
Ah Newbie come and sit here. How are you?
Do you learn from Examiner B?

NEWBIE
Yes a lot. He told me best is cite 3 documents and sometimes four. 1 or 2 looks like you don’t try hard.

DIRECTOR
Aham yes. But you know it is quality of documents that counts and you must not take long finding them?

NEWBIE
Examiner B explained it all to me when we drink coffee. I have to find documents close to the invention.

DIRECTOR
Good good. Examiner B is very good examiner. Make sure you study how he works. Is he training you to be quick?

NEWBIE
I do. He showed me how he can search to make granting quick and quality good. I have to find quick document close to invention, but if it is too close then granting takes too long time, so be careful!

DIRECTOR
Aham, well, I am sure Examiner B did not say exactly like that. You must remember quality is most important. But be quick quick! Remember at the end of year you have to do search in one day.

NEWBIE
It will be very hard in one day but I know I have to do. I can work in weekend so you can rely on me.

DIRECTOR
I can not approve of working at home, Newbie, but you have a good attitude and if you can be quick like Examiner B I will write good report for you.

NEWBIE
I understand. Thank you director.
Er, can I ask about Examiner A? I think he think I do not work well.

DIRECTOR
Oh, Examiner A is one of the old ones. The old ones have special ideas. Between four eyes, Newbie, president got complaint about Examiner A because he did not grant patent. I think it is investigated now. Don’t worry about Examiner A. You just do what Examiner B tell you.

NEWBIE
Thank you director

Anonymous said...

We're nerds of the round table, we grant whene're we're able.
We write short coms, and search reports with less and less effort;
We earn well here in Grantalot, we eat ham and jam and strike alot.

Anonymous said...

The Gullible Minnow has surpassed himself again.

As someone mentioned already, the similarities with mistakes made at the USPTO are uncanny. Introduction of performance related pay, unrealistic productivity targets, increased turnover of examining staff, result-higher number of patents with low legal certainty. The more legal uncertainty the more attractive are the exploitation opportunities for trolls and big industry.

Representatives and examiners are in the same boat, and need to work together to safeguard the health of the patent system.

Anonymous said...

SCENE 4

DIRECTOR
Examiner A, come in, it is time for your report. You know it is important for your career.

EXAMINER A
I know. I have worked her ten years.

DIRECTOR
Yes yes you have. You know it is important we do not get bored. When we get bored we do not work well.

EXAMINER A
You are right, but I like work. I am good I think and my colleagues often ask advices from me.

DIRECTOR
You need be careful with that not to lose too much time talking.

EXAMINER A
It does not lose time because it helps me to work and them to work too.

DIRECTOR
I see you have production like last year. It was good last year.

EXAMINER A
Thank you. It was difficult this year. Many applications were in bad form and are difficult work.

DIRECTOR
Yes and you must understand that we want examiners to get better to earn promotions.

EXAMINER A
Do you mean my production is not any more very good?

DIRECTOR
Well I can not give good for attitude you know. You did not help Newbie.

EXAMINER A
I would help Newbie if I get time for doing it properly.

DIRECTOR
You would get time if you did work a little bit quicker.

EXAMINER A
You know that work takes time. To see if invention is new needs time and to make it clear needs time and to refuse the bad ones needs time and you can not do what EPC say you must do if time gets too little. You know that and I work hard. You know I always work hard and always do good job and do not use more time than I need.

DIRECTOR
I see your attitude is making work difficult for you. You know we had complaint about you because you did not grant patent? Maybe stress you think? Listen Examiner A, you must relax or you will get warning letter.

Anonymous said...

It didn't take long to start the inappropriate whinging about the hard-done by examiner. I'm referring to the third comment rather than the arguably accurate first.

PLEASE do not compare your current position or purported future position to those people who do work on zero hours contracts.

Side from the nonsense comparison you will find that the people who are on zero hours conduct their work diligently and to the best of their ability, IRRESPECTIVE of the fact they are on forced to accept work on such poor terms.

Not so long ago, a young relative of mine accepted a short term role (3 months for Christmas rush) working 4 hours per night for major UK business. On day one he was told it was 12 hour shifts, take it or leave it. He took it without complaint.

Next, he was invited to an interview for a trainee manager position with a national car hire firm on a certain annual salary after applying via the job center where it was advertised. Shortly before the interview he was sent an email advising there was no annual salary, the pay as commission-only, and the job was a zero-hours contract where they would call him in as and when required.

If EPO staff hadn't been so spoilt in the past the current low moral may not be so justified by virtue of the simple fact that they have a guaranteed job on set hours and a great salary, but with a performance-related assessment system.

Anonymous said...

Once again, I have no sympathy with the examiners whining here to the IPKat:

This memo essentially says that you need to do what we asked of you when you were recruited. You get do some other stuff provided you achieve what you have to do. When I was hired at the EPO I was asked the same question which everyone is asked: do you accept a flat career (i.e. do the same thing for the rest of your life), while being shown the starting salary at the same time.

I said yes, like everyone else around me.

Now I work as a patent attorney. I have a target, and whatever I do to make my firm more successful is paid as a variable bonus.

The problem is what exactly ?

Oh wait:
- directors won't be able to dump their worst producers on "strategic projects" any longer ?
- examiners won't be able to beef up their production any longer through strategic use of MUSE deductions ?

I think for high producing examiners, this finally brings some exclusivity to them for the scarce projects which really bring them the skills to advance to the next level.

Anonymous said...

The MUSE creative time bookkeeping actually got worse.

A director can send you to e.g. a language course; but there is no automatic time deduction for parricipants of such course, but at the discretion of his/hers director. Clearly an a**-****ing exercise.

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous 22:45:00
The problem at the EPO is not the salary. The problem is Human Right and Justice.
You are patent attorney. If your employer changes the rules in the middle of the game, you have the right to complain to a tribunal.
Also your employer cannot change the "national law". Your contract is protected by law.

At the EPO, the employer has the power to change the law.
During the last years, the president Battistelli made new rules (on strike, on access to justice for staff, on investigation, etc.) that are incompatible with human rights.
This was only possible because the EPO president (the employer) enjoys (and abuses) of its diplomatic immunity.

At present, the EPO staff have no real access to Justice, and face violation of Human rights. That´s the problem.

Now, the new carrer system is imposed, just after the destruction of rights, and with no access to justice for staff.
The problem of this new carrer system is not really the targets, the salary... but how it could be challenged in case of conflict.

MaxDrei said...

All this reminds me of life in private practice. When little firms grow to jumbo size, professional management is needed. Managing firms of lawyers is like herding cats. For a cat, being herded is intolerable. The best EPO Examiners are not unlike lawyers in private practice and of course resent professional management. But sorry, professional management there has to be.

But there is a crucial difference. In private practice the lawyers own the firm and can fire self-serving, corrupt or incompetent managers. Who has the power to fire top management at the EPO? Not patent people that's for sure.

This thought in turn reminds me of the famous "Turtles all the way down" story. When Examiners at the EPO look who's above them, what do they see? Turtles, I suspect, all the way up. That must be a bit depressing for them but they are intelligent and ought to be able to deal with it.

As somebody above pointed out, they are still in a very privileged position when compared with an ever-increasing set of inconsiderately treated workers (agency, zero hours) these days.

Anonymous said...

Dear Anon 23:24, while I can understand your lack of sympathy, having seen and heard it often enough, I fear it is based in misguided interpretation of the situation. The high producers have already reached the next level by being untroubled by any need to acquire skills. It is the medium producers, just above the norm, who spend their time acquiring and passing on skills for the maintenance and benefit of the system rather than their own personal career. It is they who now have their salaries blocked, whether they are promoted or not, and it is they who have had their targets increased in many cases by well over 50%, it is they who would love to continue promoting the system they believe in, and it is they who are incredibly disappointed by the not-very-implicit accusation that they have been skiving for the last 20 years. It is they who think that the US-system with its quick grants, patent trolls, and power to large multinationals is not good for Europe as a whole and should be resisted. While getting it right may take a lot longer than getting it wrong, it takes much less time to sort out the mess afterwards.

Anonymous said...

A starting salary of 4400? Twelve times a hear, mind you. Now imagine a young academician with a family and a spouse who has a job. Would that person run the risk of throwing over his or her whole life, to go and live in a foreign country, children in a foreign school, spouse jobless, with a very long probationary period at that? And at the end perhaps stand on the street in a foreign country without any legal protection and with NO SOCIAL SECURITY to fall back on as (s)he could in his/her own country? I do not think so.

Anonymous said...

Already now the British and Swiss are greatly underrepresented. With the new system that will not get any better. So what will happen? The new examiners will be recruited from countries where the national standard is lower, where there is no patent history in the way e.g. Germany and the Netherlands had developed. Those good people but ignorant of patents and with limited language knowledge (already now only two are required, not the three) will get hardly any training because the more experienced examiners will not get time to train them or only teach them tricks how to produce as many products in as short a time as possible. Scenes 1-3 above are a nice example of that. It is, sadly, reality. So what will happen to quality?
If the Administrative Council wants a registration patent or something like the old French system (coincidence?), fine, but then they should tell the applicants. But it is simply not fair to have the applicants pay fees for an examination that is not properly carried out.

MaxDrei said...

In any other business, it is the shareholders who have the power to get rid of bad managers. Who are the "shareholders" at the EPO? The global technology companies. So it is their definition of "quality" that BB works to, not what any EPO Examiner thinks is "quality".

In patent law, litigation is a last resort. Disputes are usually settled according to which CEO has the biggest swinging......patent portfolio. Nobody has time to assess which patents in the portfolio are less invalid than the others. So the sort of "quality" that EPO Examiners dream of is irrelevant.

BB and Lee are doing no more than acting rationally, steadfastly delivering to their masters the sort of "quality" their masters have prescribed.

This dialogue reveals why managers get paid such high "compensation". Not because they are brilliant or that they work hard. No, it's because to reach their goals they have to be inhuman to their employees. Paying people to be inhuman to their fellow man comes expensive.

The CEO normally gets his pay-off in share price movements. To compensate the EPO President as he walks his inhuman way requires a different mechanism, a huge bonus. The size of the bonus is in proportion to how inhuman he has to be, to reach the goal of "quality" laid down by his masters.

Is BB's EUR 20 million bonus enough? For his masters, it must look like peanuts, small change.

Anonymous said...

I think that I have heard enough of the b1tching already.

So, to this foreign observer, there remains only two questions:

1) What are you going to do about it?

2) What can you do about it?

(note that whining on a blog is not a great answer to either of these questions)

Anonymous said...

anon at 9:47 re:
"You are patent attorney. If your employer changes the rules in the middle of the game, you have the right to complain to a tribunal"

Your are right and wrong. Currently my employer is changing my rules, my job description, my dept structure and the company I work for, plus other things I haven't worked out yet. I have only been informed of one of these changes so far. my company will not respond to an of my requests for information or clarity. There are many other issues I could mention too.

My choices involve take it or leave it, i.e. accept everything or resign. I have no right to go to any tribunal.

That aside, my comment was in respect of a different point.

Anonymous said...

We are all DOOMED!!!

The end is nigh.

If it was not for the zero-cost labour never mind zero hours contracts) of the poorest nations we would not be able to afford clothes and goods. It is unsustainable as we do not provide enough in return.

And when the oil and stuff run out we are ALL *******, never mind doomed.

My message: be grateful for what you have even when some is taken away.

Anonymous said...

@anon 19:34

Amen.

Anonymous said...

With all due respect Anonymous @ 19:34,

Your statement is a "loser" statement. That is, that is the "stuff" that the vanquished are entreated to embrace - be glad that you have the crumbs that I deign to give you and kindly STFU.

As for my reply, well, what is printable is "No thanks."

Anonymous said...

To 20:25 from Anon at 19:34

You are clearly an EPO examiner.

If you are not an EPO examiner, you are just another one of those deluded individuals that believes they are simply entitled.

If you honestly believe examiners are receiving the crumbs of life you are one fucked up creature.

Is that printable?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous @ 20:56,

You could not be more wrong, as I (Anonymous @ 20:25) am a practitioner from the US (registered attorney).

There is ZERO sense of entitlement in my view.

And what the examiners are currently receiving also has zero to do with either my comment, nor the "just take it" comment that I react to.

Instead of simply reacting to someone who disagrees with your 'worldview,' you would be well advised to actually read the comments for what they say.

Anonymous said...

"You are clearly an EPO examiner.

If you are not an EPO examiner,.."

I guess you missed the 'IF'. Should I have typed it BIGGER for you?

I didn't see you post a reasoned response to my "worldview" just a shitty criticism with a comment that what you really think of 'my view' was unprintable. Hence my simple reaction.

A "I'm not a selfish dick" response would have been a reasoned argument as to how the current world economy, where the vast majority of individuals from wealthy countries, irrespective of their "contribution", are able to afford items made by very hard-working individuals from the poorest nations, and how such a position is sustainable in the long term, especially when the wealth of natural resources runs dry.

However, you didn't do anything of the kind.

Anonymous said...

When someone can mistake an extremist American capitalist viewpoint for that of an EPO examiner, is that not a sign of how unsupportable their position has become?

Anonymous said...

My rather loquacious Anonymous friend with the inability to see, and thus, evidently, the inability to read (as I addressed both parts of your post - that I am not an examiner, AND I am not deluded), you DO need to unclench your own eyes to see the reasoned response.

I think rather that you would simply continue to please yourself with your continued unhinged rants, oblivious to the utter lack of persuasion that you are exhibiting.

As to my Anonymous friend @22:52, my views, while indeed tending towards the American capitalist side of things (I very much believe in Adam Smith's invisible hand), is hardly "extreme" in any sense of that word.

Anonymous said...

The U.S. have a completely different history and tradition regarding employee rights and entitlements. Do not forget that the EPO is a European organization, of which european countries are members. One cannot compare that at all with the US. Now one might suppose that what are considered normal employee rights in EPO member states would also apply to EPO staff. But that is not the case and that is what all the trouble is about. If things happen that are illegal in at least two major member states, one cannot sit down and accept that silently. In particular I heard the circumstances around the suspended staff declared illegal under their national laws by lawyers from Germany and France. Add to that a declaration by the president in the sense that he does not care about national law and draw your conclusions. Absolutely understandable that the eponians are in a turmoil about that and completely lost their confidence in the EPO management.

Anonymous said...

"But it is simply not fair to have the applicants pay fees for an examination that is not properly carried out."

Not fair perhaps.

But undoubtedly a most lucrative business for those with their snouts in the upper managerial trough ...

Anonymous said...

I can read perfectly well. It is simply that I only believe the part where you say you are not an EPO examiner.

Looking forward to your appropriate response to the original post, possibly when you submit your thesis to the Adam Smith Institute.

As for my unhinged rants, that is the beauty of being free, something Americans mistakenly believe they are.

Anonymous said...

You say "free" but I do not think that you understand what that term means.

To wit: you want an "appropriate" response, when you already have one. Open your eyes.

Anonymous said...

19:34 never used the term 'just take it'.

22:11 didn't say anything about not being deluded.

Anyone got their eyes open enough to see what isn't there?

Anonymous said...

Murphy's corollary:
Never argue with a fool,
bystanders may not notice the difference.

Anonymous said...

According to

http://www.epo.org/law-practice/legal-texts/official-journal/2015/01/a1.html

"the new career system for EPO staff has only been approved on the understanding that the provisions regarding appraisal, performance, step advancement, bonus, promotion and all career-related elements for Council appointees as members of the boards of appeal will not apply until specific provisions have been included in documents concerning the organisation and functioning of DG 3, to be submitted to the Council at the next meeting, in March 2015."

Anonymous said...

So they will apply after the AC meeting? Mmm. I'm intrigued about how the BoA will earn their bonuses!

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