EPO appoints new Chief Economist

The EPO has announced the appointment of its new Chief Economist, Yann Ménière.

According to the press release:
Yann Ménière, EPO photo
"Yann Ménière is professor of economics on leave from MINES ParisTech, where he was leading the Chair on "IP and Markets for Technology" until joining the EPO. His research and expertise relate to the economics of innovation, competition and intellectual property. In recent years, he has been focusing more specifically on IP and standards, markets for technology, and IP issues in climate negotiations. Besides his academic publications, he has also written a number of policy studies for the European Commission, French government and other public organisations. Outside MINES ParisTech, he has been teaching the economics of IT standards at Imperial College Business School and the economics of IP law at the Law School of Université Catholique de Louvain."
The Office of Chief Economist at EPO typically runs as fixed-term appointment from as short as one year to as long as nearly six. The appointment has always been external and the career profile has thus far been civil servant, academic or consultant. Most previous post holders have had strong ties with France or Belgium. Yann, a French national, will be the fifth Chief Economist.

Presumably high on the list of the incoming economist's agenda will be modelling the Unitary Patent and its financial impact on the EPO. This impact is heavily dependent on how the agreement works out, and what demand for the UP looks like.

Welcome to the patent policy world, Yann!

EPO Chief Economists of the past - Theon van Dijk, Bruno van Pottelsberghe, Dominique Guellec and Nikolaus Thumm

EPO appoints new Chief Economist EPO appoints new Chief Economist Reviewed by Nicola Searle on Thursday, February 04, 2016 Rating: 5


  1. what a coincidence : another frenchman !

    It is like the staff reps sanctioned : all suepo officials... another coincidence like VP1 recently said in an interview for Dutch Nieuwsuur

    le hasard fait bien les choses

  2. Oh, look! Another French appointment to the highest ranks of the EPO. Along with BB's almost-entirely-French inner circle.

    I thought the EPO was a multinational organisation? Surely it is time for a chief economist who does not have "strong ties with France or Belgium"? Perhaps someone with a more Anglo-Saxon or Frankfurt-school view of economics, just for a change?

  3. Strong ties with Belgium should come as no surprise given that it's the location of the European Commission. Paris has the OECD, where Dominic Guellec is now, and also produces some excellent IP and innovation economists. That said, there are plenty of good IP centres through the member states. For example, Nikolaus Thumm is in Spain at the Commission's Institute for Prospective Technological Studies, and there are some excellent economists at Bocconi in Milan and Max Planck in Munich - to name just a few.

    A perhaps more glaring lack of diversity is that fact that all five appointees are male and white.

  4. Dear Nicola,

    I agree with half of your statement but the other half has no bearing on the matter. The proportion of non-whites in Europe is insignificant.

  5. Dear Nicola,

    It's hardly surprising is it ?

    In case you had not noticed the EPO is governed by a white male European geronotocracy.

    A good exemple is the Suisse delegation headed by the "honorary chairman" of the Admin Counsel (an innovative made-up position invented by the current EPO President when he was chair of the Admin Counsel).

    The alpha male in question has retired as head of the national IPO and was replaced by a female (coincidentally a white European one):

    Despite being well past his sell-by date he still continues to hog the seat on the Admin Counsel.

    And as for Mr. Minnoye and Mr. Lutz, just do not get me started on that track ...

  6. While Europe is ethnically homogenous compared to other parts of the globe, the proportion of non-whites is not insignificant (in neither statistical or colloquial senses.)

    The non-white population of London alone is roughly 3.3M, which is bigger than many EPO member states. I fail to see how geographical/gender diversity has bearing but race/ethnicity doesn't.

  7. Nicola, I agree that in a broader context that the fact that all five appointees are white and male is a glaring lack of diversity. However, this appointment surely must also be viewed in the much narrower context of the current management situation of the EPO.

    The upper echelons of the EPO appear to in the process of being stacked with French nationals. So the appointment of yet another French national (regardless of gender or race) to such a position appears to be a much greater immediate concern than the, present but perhaps less immediately relevant, issues about gender and race.

  8. Maybe (just maybe) we can focus on qualifications....?

    I too have a dream - that one day race and gender will not be raised where such have NO bearing on the item being discussed.

    Diversity - for diversity's sake - is a FALSE god.

  9. very tired and bored said,,,

    Nicola said,

    "A perhaps more glaring lack of diversity is that fact that all five appointees are male and white"

    C'mon Nicola,,,that's probably just another EPO 'coincidence',,,,,,,isn't it???,,,. I can't imagine for a minute that a thoroughly modern model European organisation like the EPO has a diversity glass ceiling that is potentially treble glazed and armour plated, can you?

  10. I guess that the EPO being a non-tax organisation, there is no need for the tax fiddling skills illustrated by certain multinational companies.


  11. Let us not damn a Frenchman for being a Frenchman.
    If he is good, to condemn on nationality is unfair.
    If he is bad, to condemn on nationality misses the point.
    In either case, to condemn on nationality is stupid.

    I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

  12. Almost as though no-one at the EPO had ever heard of the LSE...

  13. @Nicola

    1. Whether you have a man or a woman at the top you won´t be able to see a difference in the way they lead a company. Yes, a woman will not assault chambermaids like Strauss-Kahn but from the point of view of managerial decisions being a woman is irrelevant.
    2. Women have enjoyed a lot of privilege in the EPO, see the latest example of Elodie Bergot, with her spectacular jump from A3 to A6.

  14. Nicola said "A perhaps more glaring lack of diversity is that fact that all five appointees are male and white"
    To be honest, the situation at the EPO in respect of gender diversity is not such bad: amongst the union members severely sanctioned lately, there are two females and only one male.

  15. Perhaps Yann can turn his attention to the financial impact of the UP upon not only the EPO, but also European businesses?

    Darren's amusing piece (hypothetical discussion with a client) from 20 April 2015 points to reasons why the level of the official fees levied means that advent of the UPC might not be beneficial for all - particularly SMEs.

    However, in addition to the issue of official fees, that is the equally important issue of advisory fees.

    A little bird tells me that national governments may well be relying upon Article 149a to sanction what would otherwise amount to contraventions of Articles 2 and 64 EPC - i.e. to allow national patents, non-unitary EPs and unitary EPs to all have different effects when it comes to infringement.

    On top of this, we have the possibility (now seeming much more like a certainty) that different Participating Member States (PMSs) of the UPCA will have different national laws. Thus, it seems that the process of determining whether a patent application that is eligible for unitary protection will be infringed by actions in country X will now comprise the following steps.

    1. Has unitary effect been requested?
    2. If so, who was the original applicant?
    3. Did the (an) original applicant have a residence / place of business in a state that is a PMS for the unitary patent concerned?
    4. If so, determine the applicable national law under Art. 7(1) and (2) of Reg. 1257/2012 (and if not, the applicable law is that of Germany).
    5. Seek advice from an expert of the national law determined under step 4.

    This is a much more complicated and expensive procedure for determining infringement than we have under the current system. And things just get worse if you are trying to determine freedom to operate in country X and you have identified several potentially relevant patent applications. This is because:
    - the above, 5-step process will have to be repeated for each application;
    - different applications may have different applicants (giving increased burden for steps 2 to 4) and may therefore be subject to different national laws (giving significantly increased costs in step 5); and
    - it will not be possible to provide a definitive answer for step 1 until up to 3 months after the date of grant of the application concerned.

    The last point could be particularly galling for clients. This is because it could mean that, whilst they will have to bear the burden of significantly increased costs for FTO, they will be presented with an equivocal conclusion (as there can be no certainty until well after grant of all of the relevant applications).

    This might all be OK if the differences between national laws was such that the conclusions would be essentially the same under all potentially relevant laws. But that is certainly not how things appear to be shaping up for indirect infringement and, crucially, for "Bolar" / experimental use.

    Will all of the above in mind, any comprehensive analysis of the economic impact of the UP system really ought to take account of the "hidden" costs of advice. If this is done, then I believe that there is certain to be a negative impact upon at least some (if not most) European companies.

  16. I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

    Dear Meldrew,

    The EPO is your dream come true ...

    Yours truly
    UBUstelli Roi

  17. Many thanks for all of the comments and constructive discussion.

    My point in highlighting aspects of diversity (nationality, gender or otherwise) is that all five post holders have had remarkably similar profiles that are entirely independent of their ability to do the job. Given that I know that the pool of candidates is more diverse, it is statistically unlikely that this is a mere coincidence.

    This statistical approach is, however, a wholly reductive approach to diversity. However, an in-depth discussion of unconscious bias, intersectionality and a whole host of other issues seems out of place in the comments section of the IPKat.

  18. Concerned examiner says:

    To Nicola: It is not that a discussion of gender or racial bias is out of place. It is that the real problem is somewhere else: all of Battistelli close men come from the same background: they are French, they come from the same universities and they are all freemasons. The fact that none is of a different race, gender or nationality is a consequence of that: the special political club to which they belong is only open to white males.
    So: your observation is true, but it is the symptom of a much bigger problem than you think.

  19. @Concerned examiner:

    Interesting remark. How do you know that they are all freemasons, are you one yourself?

  20. @Concerned examiner

    Thank heavens you didn't mention the following mysterious connections ...

  21. A little bird tells me that national governments may well be relying upon Article 149a to sanction what would otherwise amount to contraventions of Articles 2 and 64 EPC - i.e. to allow national patents, non-unitary EPs and unitary EPs to all have different effects when it comes to infringement.

    This appears true for HMG at least.

    Am I that little bird? http://ipnoncredere.blogspot.co.uk/2016/01/diatribe.html.

    See also tweet from another little bird.

  22. Meldrew - no, you are not the little bird in question (and neither is Darren). Without wanting to push the animal theme too far, let's just say that my source is the horse's mouth.

    So, as much as I agree that you may well have a valid point regarding contravention of the EPC, sad to say that the UK IPO will not be listening to your arguments any time soon.

    BTW, the UK IPO's impact assessment put the cost to business (of implementing the draft SI) as "£0m". From what I have pointed out previously on this topic, that is a very questionable conclusion - as it completely ignores the costs incurred by those other than patent holders (but whose businesses are directly affected by patents).

    Given the uncertainty and lack of clarity introduced by the SI (and the UPCA), I am also particularly amused by the UK IPO's comment that "Setting this out in UK law ensures clarity for businesses". Very droll.

  23. Congratulations with your nomination, Yann.

    Here are three things your new boss might not have told you yet:

    1. Battistelli nominated nearly exclusively french staff in top positions at EPO, hence the negative comments as to your nationality.

    2. One of your predecessors Prof. van Pottelsberge was quite critical towards the patent system, for example: http://bruegel.org/2009/06/lost-property-the-european-patent-system-and-why-it-doesnt-work/

    3. Your challenge will be to prove Battistelli is right, while most believe he's not.

  24. Square BB’s circle says…

    Is BB off the track?
    Try the Square;
    Try it well on every side.
    Nothing draws a craftsman back
    Like the Square when well applied.
    Try the Square.

    Is he crooked, is he frail?
    Try the Square.
    Try it early, try it late;
    When all other efforts fail,
    Try the Square to make him straight
    Try the Square.

    Does he still persist in wrong?
    Try the Square.

    Loves he darkness more than light?
    Try it thorough, try it long.
    Try the Square to make him right
    Try the Square.

    Fails the Square to bring him in?
    Try the Square.
    Be not sparing of the pains;
    While there’s any work to do,
    While a crook or knot remains
    Try the Square

  25. Breaking news is that Germany has produced draft bills for implementing the UPC.



    My German may be a little rusty, but I cannot see anything in the two published documents that indicates how German national law will be amended in the light of the substantive provisions of the unitary patent package.

    Can anyone shed any light on this situation? I would have thought that at least some modifications of national patent law would be necessary.

  26. @Proof of the pudding said… at 20:03

    The document of your second link proposes all necessary amendments of German Law, particulary for the international patent act and the patent act.
    But the first link is the more interesting…

    THE EPO Chester

  27. Well, either I am imagining things or the document accessed via the second link has changed since yesterday. I now see the proposed amendments to German patent law.

    However, is there not still something missing, namely alignment of the law on infringement with the relevant provisions of the UP package? Quite a glaring omission, I would think!


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