Who should be the next EPO president?

The professional body for European Patent Attorneys epi has recently announced the results of interviews with each of the four candidates for the post of EPO president, which will become vacant when Alison Brimelow departs at the end of June 2010.

The four candidates are:
The final decision will apparently be made at the next meeting of the EPO Administrative Council, starting tomorrow in Munich. The IPKat is entirely impartial in this matter, but would be interested to see who his readers think should be elected as the next president. To find out, he has placed a new poll on the sidebar. Please cast your vote before the poll closes, and we find out the real result, this coming Friday, 30 October.
Who should be the next EPO president? Who should be the next EPO president? Reviewed by David Pearce on Monday, October 26, 2009 Rating: 5


  1. Why is it only now that la République provides us with a candidate with a clear IP track record, instead of six-seven years ago when all the best they could do was to provide us with a medical expert who - according to the EPO employees in Rijswijk - had as a hobby taking his wife along on business trips at the cost of the EPO?

    Yes, this is a very cynical remark. But I am disappointed to see that also the EPO is being used for what the French call "pantouflisme". I want the EPO to be led by expertise in the first place, not by a result of primarily a political and/or diplomatic bargain.

    (well.. Ms. Brimelow was also a result of that same bargain, but let's just take that as an exception to the rule...)

  2. All the candidates claim they have experience in IP, although it's pretty clear that the experience of three of them is purely managerial/political, to the extent that it would be a fair question to ask whether any of them has ever actually read a patent. Only one can truly claim to have extensive experience in patent matters, and it is quite striking that she's also the only one to show some humility in the interview.
    I'm obviously talking about Ms. Siborg. With the immense self-regard that is apparent in each one of the other interviews one comes to understand why there's been some talk of "alpha males in the AC". My choice would in any case be clear. I'm just afraid it won't be the AC's choice.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Four candidates, only one literally knows her (patent)business inside-out. Clear choice.

  5. The Association of IP Professionals in Swedish Industry (SIPF) is positive about Ms Susanne Ås-Sivborg, not only because she is a Swede, but most of all that she's got a very broad experience in IP, not just patents. She is presently the President of the Swedish Patent Office and we as users have really experienced a very positive change in attitude towards the applicant. This have affected administrative costs and a more flexible and user friendly examination procedure. I therefore think that she could contribute in the same user-friendly direction also if she becomes the next EPO president.

    In the Board of SIPF, there are people who have worked with her, for her, have been her supervisor and have had her as manager and they have only positive things to say. Susanne has,as hopefully is evident from the interviews, broad experience from being the manager of IP departments in the industry (both mechanial and pharma companies) and she also have experience from the private practice (with EQE qualification). Not to mention being an examiner at EPO and the Swedish patent office.

  6. What is the obsession with having someone who knows IP inside out? An experience of managing functioning IP organisations is equally valid - I wouldn't put a mechanic as the CEO of Ford...

    That said, from both personal experience and from reading their CVs/interviews none of these candidates leap out at me as being ideal. Whilst I acknowledge the need to not over-politicise the selection, I also think that France should not be given the post, having only just had a head of the EPO. But that's the only opinion I have on individuals...

    It's Hobson's choice, really.

  7. Devil's advocate, I think that knowing IP inside out is an absolute requirement for the position. The President of the EPO needs to take a number of decisions which have a serious impact on the public, as well as on direct users of the patent system. The least that can be asked of him or her is to be well-informed about the potential consequences of those decisions, without having to rely on the opinion of less-than-impartial "advisers".
    "General purpose" managers have fared less than ideally in the current economic crisis. The collapses and near-collapses of a number of corporations have shown how inadequate it can be to select top managers solely on the basis of their ability to order people around, and without in-depth knowledge of the business they're supposed to be active with. Should the CEO of Ford be a mechanic? Well, he certainly should have, among other things, a good understanding of how the car business works, including how the cars themselves are built and work. Just ask VW's Ferdinand Piëch...

  8. Actually, it appears to be not necessarily an "either/or". It would seem possible to have at least a part of both worlds.
    I can imagine that at least some IP-professionals would be pleased with somebody with experience on both sides of the table. (actually three sides as AC member)

  9. Armand Grinstajn said...
    You might have added a fifth option : "None of them." (which, by the way, is the most likely outcome of Friday's vote)

    ----- well, at least Ms. Sivborg is an EPI member, whereas Mr. Grinstajn is not, despite his claiming to be one on his own website.

    Or, perhaps EPI is wrong on both counts?

  10. Why is there no feline candidate on the short list? Merpel would make an excellent President.

  11. @ Devil's advocate:
    "I wouldn't put a mechanic as the CEO of Ford"

    Royal Philips Electronics is being run by an engineer (EE, if I am not mistaken) who is doing a pretty good job...

    So why not?
    And there I agree with Anonymous at Tuesday, October 27, 2009 10:57:00 AM

  12. Perhaps I should elucidate a little. What I meant was that one shouldn't assume that a knowledge of mechanics qualifies someone to be CEO of Ford. Businesses prove time and time again that a detailed knowledge of practices at a working level are not necessarily an essential attribute at the top level.

    However, I don't hesitate to point out that a detailed knowledge of practices at a working level is not mutually exclusive to the ability to lead an organisation.

    However, the capability to lead and make strategic decisions IS essential, along with the support of a properly functioning board of directors/management team. In the case of the EPO, tha ability to work effectively in a multilateral political environment and deal with a disaffected and demotivated staff base is also critical.

    I realise that asking for things such as this in a public service organisation is a big ask, since in such places promotion to the level of incompetence is the norm. It is probably made harder by the political machinations one finds in such multilateral bodies. But that's not to say we shouldn't aim as high as possible.

  13. Devil's Advocate, of course a managerial quality is also a requirement, but, by all accounts Ms. As Sivborg has also demonstrated that both in the private and public sectors, which is more than some of the other nominees can claim (to say nothing about some previous EPO presidents).
    I certainly prefer a manager who was promoted all the way from the coalface of IP work up to the top, than somebody who was ostensibly directly anointed boss only because of his political connections. Speaking of which, maybe the French should have nominated Jean Sarkozy. Just for tradition's sake, you know...

  14. From the reply by Mr. Benoît Battistelli (BB):
    As a true European: The EPO is part of the EU construct.


  15. @Anonymous Wednesday, October 28, 2009 3:02:00 PM:

    LOL! What a mistake...

    If that were the case, the fees would be upped by at least 75% to pay for interpreters for I-do-not-know-how-many languages and my clients would lose all their money on translating the claims upon grant.

    Fortunately, the three languages of the EPO are carved in stone. And please keep away that chisel from the Spanish and Italians to add two additional ones.

  16. David (and we know your last name), I use this vehicle to communicate, but there is no need to publish it.

    I have noted that Ms. As Sivborg is still on the list of representatives, and that Mr. Armand Grinstajn is a pseudonym.

    Instead of owning up to his real identity he has changed his blogger profile from: "I'm a European Patent Attorney, and ...." [still visible via Google's cache] to: "I am not interesting but I hope my blog is. Have a good time."

    ----- I am sure being pseudonomous and purporting to be on the list was a contravention of the Code of Conduct, 3.b) "A member shall not give any indication on office premises, stationery or otherwise which is misleading to the public."

    I feel cheated, and obviously - somehow - his otherwise seemingly sensible comments suddenly appear tinged.

    "I am an onymous and I feel cheated"


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