Munich, host to the European Patent Office's main centre of operations, has been abuzz with speculation and intrigue this week, these being features of any organisation that does not enjoy the benefit of transparent government -- and, it should be said, these also being features of many organisations that do enjoy those benefits.
|In listening mode|
|Under wraps -- but with |
Meanwhile, EPO staff union SUEPO has announced another day of industrial action, Wednesday 25 February. According to SUEPO:
"The next demonstration will be aimed at the British consulate. Mr Sean Dennehey (UK), member of the British delegation, is a major player in the Administrative Council. He was also recently re-elected chairman of the Patent Law Committee for a three-year term, starting on 30 March 2014. Like Mr Kongstad, Mr Dennehey is member of the “Board 28”, the ultra-secretive think-tank of the Administrative Council. The Board 28 met this week to discuss and probably decide upon the future of DG3. ...This moggy observes that governments are a lot more successful in not being alerted than people are in managing to alert them. She will be watching with interest to see what happens.
We wish to alert the British government to the problems in the EPO and the role played by the British delegation. We hope to be able to meet the British Consul-General, Paul Richard Heardman, to ask for his support".
Remaining with SUEPO for a moment, this moggy is aware that the union is concerned, as its recent release mentions, that the EPO is seeking to drive up productivity. There is a view that forced increases in productivity targets for patent examiners will inevitably lead to "bad" patents being granted. This moggy thinks any examiner, when required to deal with a case under pressure of time, would rather refuse a "good" patent than grant a "bad" one (to use the terminology employed by SUEPO). There is a danger in being pressed into refusing good patents: this is that the number of appeals will increase and that a truly independent Board of Appeal will not hesitate to send the case back to the examining division, irrespective of the latter's productivity targets. However, reducing the independence of the Boards of Appeal inevitably makes them more sensitive to any political pressure not to push the output of a hasty and perhaps defective examination process back on the examiners; indeed, the Boards may face pressure themselves to dispose of their own cases with less detailed scrutiny. Accordingly any push by management to bring the Boards into line, if it works, should have a real pay-off in terms of getting everyone, willingly or not, onto the same message of increased productivity and clearing away any awkward oversight of examination standards.