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The Politicization Of The US Patent System

The Washington Post story, How patent reform’s fraught politics have left USPTO still without a boss (July 30), is a vivid account of how patent reform has divided the US economy, preempting a possible replacement for David Kappos who stepped down 18 months ago. The division is even bigger than portrayed. Universities have lined up en masse to oppose reform, while main street businesses that merely use technology argue for reform. Reminiscent of the partisan divide that has paralyzed US politics, this struggle crosses party lines and extends well beyond the usual inter-industry debates. Framed in terms of combating patent trolls through technical legal fixes, there lurks a broader economic concern – to what extent ordinary retailers, bank, restaurants, local banks, motels, realtors, and travel agents should bear the burden of defending against patents as a cost of doing business.


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    Proposal For EPO Staff Bonus Raises Questions

    Published on 13 November 2012 @ 6:46 pm

    By , Intellectual Property Watch

    A proposal of the European Patent Office President Benoît Battistelli to pay a collective reward to EPO staff in 2012 in view of the positive operating result of 2011 has stirred concerns about the kind of incentive this might give to EPO examiners.

    According to a confidential document [pdf], Battistelli proposed that €27,656,000 be paid as a collective reward to staff who were in active service in 2011, and that another € 27,656,000 be transferred to the Reserve Funds for Pensions and Social Security (RFPSS). This financial flow comes from a 2011 operating result of €89,231,639.

    “As a basis for the calculation, a net amount of EUR 4 000 after the deduction of internal tax will be set aside for each full-time staff member,” says the document. It adds that the positive results are to “a great extent the result of the work and efforts of its staff.”

    The EPO 2011 annual report says that “2011 was a record year at the EPO,” with “almost 250,000 patent filings, the highest number ever in our 34-year history, showing that European patents are in high demand across the globe, and that Europe remains attractive for innovative industries.”

    In recent years, says the confidential document, “the EPO has regularly obtained IFRS [International Financial Reporting Standards] operational surpluses.” In 2009 and 2010, the surpluses “were transferred to the RFPSS to cover future liabilities, in particular those resulting from the partial compensation on pensions.”

    The document dated 5 October is addressed to the Budget and Finance Committee for opinion, the Administrative Council for decision, and the Supervisory Board of the RFPSS for information. The Administrative Council is expected to convene on 11-13 December, according to an EPO source.

    A series of concerns have been reported in the German press such as in Wirtschafts Woche and voiced by several sources to Intellectual Property Watch.

    One of the main issues raised was that the proposed bonus to staff might provide the wrong incentive and might have a potential effect on patent quality. Paying a bonus to its staff could be contrary to the EPO’s public mission, they said. The operating results could serve to lower fees, not encourage a pro-patent bias, they added.

    According to a June newsletterJune newsletter [pdf] of the Munich branch of the Staff Union of the European Patent Office (SUEPO), the staff was informally told about a bonus scheme for staff. The article said the Munich staff representation had some reserves, one of which is that “Linking staff pay to EPO operating results thus puts staff, in particular examiners, in a conflict of interest.”

    EPO Says No Link Between Bonus and Mission

    An EPO source told Intellectual Property Watch that there is “no link between generating a bonus in the operative section of our budget and our mission.”

    The EPO, the source said, has launched a set of measures and programmes to increase the quality of its work. These initiatives were described in Battistelli’s speech at the EPO Patent Information Conference 2012 on 6 November as five strategic roadmaps.

    The EPO’s services have been “sanctioned in diverse independent surveys … among in-house and external patent attorneys rating the EPO as the best patent office in the world,” the source said.

    “The performance measurement of an examiner evaluates a refusal twice as high as a grant – taking into consideration that a refusal requires a higher investment of examiner time,” the source said. Since 2005, the EPO has improved “its overall performance and productivity due to massive efforts,” in particular “more time spent by examiners on search and examination.”

     

    Catherine Saez may be reached at info@ip-watch.ch.

     

    Comments

    1. Carol says:

      The EPO amounts to institutionalised corruption and its policies show. Just think about the massive bias of the EPO against procedures which invalidate patents (and thus cut renewal fees). You even have to pay fees to the EPO to oppose a goofy Patent post-grant and no one covers the costs of your lawyers. It may take years for the opposition chamber to rule. If the EPO makes a bonus it should be paid as a compensation to those who suffered from patent system externalities.

    2. EPO Staff To Get Disputed €28M Bonus, Despite Protest | Intellectual Property Watch says:

      [...] The proposal by EPO President Benoìt Batistelli to pay a bonus to EPO staff in view of the positive operating result at the organisation had stirred concerns from several stakeholders, such as the Berne Declaration, the Corporate Europe Observatory, the Development Fund from Norway, the Center for Intellectual Property Rights from Belgium, and the Third World Network (IPW, Patent Policy, 13 November 2012). [...]


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    We welcome your participation in article and blog comment threads, and other discussion forums, where we encourage you to analyse and react to the content available on the Intellectual Property Watch website. By participating in discussions or reader forums, or by submitting opinion pieces or comments to articles, blogs, reviews or multimedia features, you are consenting to these rules.

    We welcome your participation in article and blog comment threads, and other discussion forums, where we encourage you to analyse and react to the content available on the Intellectual Property Watch website.

    By participating in discussions or reader forums, or by submitting opinion pieces or comments to articles, blogs, reviews or multimedia features, you are consenting to these rules.

    1. You agree that you are fully responsible for the content that you post. You will not knowingly post content that violates the copyright, trademark, patent or other intellectual property right of any third party or which you know is under a confidentiality obligation preventing its publication and that you will request removal of the same should you discover that you have violated this provision. Likewise, you may not post content that is libelous, defamatory, obscene, abusive, that violates a third party's right to privacy, that otherwise violates any applicable local, state, national or international law, that amounts to spamming or that is otherwise inappropriate. You may not post content that degrades others on the basis of gender, race, class, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual preference, disability or other classification. Epithets and other language intended to intimidate or to incite violence are also prohibited. Furthermore, you may not impersonate others.

    2. You understand and agree that Intellectual Property Watch is not responsible for any content posted by you or third parties. You further understand that IP Watch does not monitor the content posted. Nevertheless, IP Watch may monitor the any user-generated content as it chooses and reserves the right to remove, edit or otherwise alter content that it deems inappropriate for any reason whatever without consent nor notice. We further reserve the right, in our sole discretion, to remove a user's privilege to post content on our site. IP Watch is not in any manner endorsing the content of the discussion forums and cannot and will not vouch for its reliability or otherwise accept liability for it.

    3. By submitting any contribution to IP Watch, you warrant that your contribution is your own original work and that you have the right to make it available to IP Watch for all purposes and you agree to indemnify IP Watch, its directors, employees and agents against all damages, legal fees and others expenses that may be incurred by IP Watch as a result of your breach of warranty or of these terms.

    4. You further agree not to publish any personal information about yourself or anyone else (for example telephone number or home address). If you add a comment to a blog, be aware that your email address will be apparent.

    5. IP Watch will not be liable for any loss including but not limited to the following (whether such losses are foreseen, known or otherwise): loss of data, loss of revenue or anticipated profit, loss of business, loss of opportunity, loss of goodwill or injury to reputation, losses suffered by third parties, any indirect, consequential or exemplary damages.

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    8. For any content that you post, you hereby grant to IP Watch the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual, exclusive and fully sub-licensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part, world-wide and to incorporate it in other works, in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.

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