Wednesday whimsies

And now Las Vegas' Caesar's
Palace is opening a Regional
Office in Munich ...
Earlier this week the attention of some curious Kats was drawn to this document which appears to prove that the fees received by the European Patent Office have resulted in a 'profit' for that office of more than 55 million euros -- which that good office is donating to its employees. The EPO's Administrative Council has decided that each full-time employee is to receive a tax-free and deduction-free sum of 4,000 euros, which is as good a way of 'losing' 27,656,000 euro as this Kat can think of. Another 27,656,000 euro is being donated to the Reserve Fund for Pensions for former employees.  Merpel, who is always fascinated by other people's money, thinks that 55 million euro is a good deal more than she can easily spend in an afternoon; she wonders, though, wherever did all that money come from, and to whom did it belong before it fell into the pockets of the EPO?  (A katpat goes to patentanwalt Rainer Boeckelen for this lead).

Some patent-y readers have often expressed an interest in knowing when the special edition of the PCT Applicant’s Guide, prepared for students sitting the EQE [European Qualifying Examination] exams, will be available. WIPO's Rosina Bisi (katpat!) has kindly written to let us know that WIPO is in the process of compiling a new version, which will contain the entire contents of the Guide as of 31 December 2012, and that the plan is to post it on the WIPO website during the week of 21 January. Rosina promises to tell the Kats when its live and available for download.

Just out and not yet in the IPKat's paws is a new book, International Copyright Law and Access to Education in Developing Countries, by Susan Isiko Štrba. According to the publisher's blurb,
"In International Copyright Law and Access to Education in Developing Countries: Exploring Multilateral Legal and Quasi-Legal Solutions, Susan Isiko Štrba offers an understanding of the legal relationship between copyright regulation and access to education in developing countries, and explores both institutional and normative ways to facilitate access to printed educational and research materials.

The author explores the question of whether limitations or exceptions (flexibilities) in international intellectual property law can be utilised to balance the private interest of intellectual property right holders and the public interest of IP users and highlights the role of national institutions in crafting case-by-case educational exceptions in ways that may make WTO retaliation more onerous. Institutional reform and normative re-ordering within the intellectual property system and affiliated institutions are evaluated within an overall framework of new approaches for providing access solutions".
Full details of this title, which is published by Brill and retails at £112, can be found here.

Wednesday whimsies Wednesday whimsies Reviewed by Jeremy on Wednesday, January 09, 2013 Rating: 5


  1. It is quite amazing to see how a bonus payment of €4000 to highly skilled employees of the EPO makes huge waves, while the partly obscenely high fees of some members of the patent attorney fraternity and their learned friends don't get much of a mention (not to mention the five and six figure bonuses of "top" industrialists, bankers and other so-called "movers and shakers").

    Oh, before I forget and so as to forestall any accusations of bias: I've been on both sides of the patents world.

  2. The EPO is, and always has been, a rich organisation all paid for by patent applicants. Despite the huge profits and "reserves" the fees still keep going up and up. Nothing ever seems to come back to the "little guy" being priced out of IP by this organisation.

  3. I always have an issue explainig clients, in particualr SME clients, that the EPO has the highest total amount of search, examination, designation and grant fees of all - or at least the vast majority of - patent authorities across the world.

    And that the EPO does not make exceptions for SME.

    As to the applicant's guide: my great help with the EQE was an elaborate version of the PCT with all kind of cross-references. Complied by a professor at the university of Maastricht.

  4. EPO fees might be high, but what do you get for your money? Is it better "value for money" than other Patent Offices provide. Compare for example the opposition fee at the EPO with the one at the USPTO, and then think about the quality of the claims duly issued by these two Patent Offices and therefore how often you might need to oppose at the USPTO.

    Is there any truth in the story that the EPO Examining Staff Association rejected the bonus: to accept it would give the user community an opportunity to slur the Examiners with the argument that such bonuses give them a financial interest in delaying progress of pending patent applications?

  5. I don't mind the employee bonus or the high profits or the high fees mentioned in the previous comments. I think finding increasing numbers of inventions on cases is more scandalous, especially where the numbers climb towards 20 or into the hundreds. The Examiner chooses how to define the individual inventions and the system does not allow you to pay for searching unsearched subject matter without filing divisionals. CIPA and the EPI remain very ineffectual on this issue even though they recognise the problems. If it happened in other industries it would be considered a scam.

  6. According to the steering group minutes, the UKIPO has also been running at a substantial profit. Unlike the EPO, this profit looks like being syphoned off by the BIS on the principle that the BIS is the IPO's only shareholder and the profit is a dividend that can be used by the BIS for purposes not directly relating to IP matters. Concerns have been expressed in the minutes for some time as to the legality of this, but no conclusion has appeard to date.

  7. Work in an environment with risk and then consider yourself eligible for a bonus when profits exceed expectations.

    Work in a gravy-train organisation such as the EPO, and you are just milking the system and have no right to a cent extra.

    My view would be the same even if the EPO still provided a good service, but they are next to useless, with their energies spent clock-watching and thinking of their over-fed bellies.


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