back to article European Patent Office fires up lawyers over claims of cosy love-in with Microsoft

The European Patent Office (EPO) has fired off legal threats amid allegations the agency has too close a relationship with Microsoft. The claim that the software giant was unfairly getting preferential treatment for its patent applications was first made by Roy Schestowitz on his long-running Techrights site. Schestowitz …

  1. Fraggle850

    This sounds like an organisation in crisis

    > He restructured the EPO, and ended a series of long-held practices including fixed wage rises and promotions tied to seniority rather than performance.

    Makes me think that there is need of reform but the handling of it seems to have resulted in a sorry state of affairs. This sort of thing makes me question the state of European bureaucratic systems.

    1. annodomini2

      Re: This sounds like an organisation in crisis

      You should always question the state especially when the word "... bureaucratic..." is involved.

  2. Tomato42
    Trollface

    Seriously, how long does it take to stamp over those 450 applications "Lambda calculus", "Not new invention", "Obvious to anyone in the field" and then process the leftover 3 or 4?

  3. Silviu C.

    Are you kidding me?!

    "The US patent system is significantly cheaper and more efficient. Just let that sink in."

    The USPTO is a rubber stamping machine. They use the well known "award the patent and let the courts sort them out" approach.

    1. Steve Knox
      Holmes

      Re: Are you kidding me?!

      "The US patent system is significantly cheaper and more efficient. Just let that sink in."

      The USPTO is a rubber stamping machine.

      Yes, but it's a very cheap and efficient rubber stamping machine.

      They use the well known "award the patent and let the courts sort them out" approach.

      Do you know a cheaper and/or more efficient method? Perhaps you should patent it.

    2. abit

      Re: Are you kidding me?!

      The US patent system is indeed a positive model.

      Who else would even think of this being legit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1-Click and call it the a real McCoy?

      The US patent system is NOT broken.

      This is a fact, patents are researched and granted or denied every day in the US. Dysfunctional - yes, broken - NO.

      It is the experts about patents who are broken or otherwise compromised.

      You do realize: Benjamin Franklin, if he lived today, SHOULD NOT last the night as a free person. Before claiming all his patents and goods he should answer for all his bads.

      I do admire billionaires - once they poisoned all the water, burned all the lands, claimed all the rights and fucked all the brides - they turn old and human.

      1. Richard Plinston

        Re: Are you kidding me?!

        > The US patent system is NOT broken.

        It seems that in the USPTO the procedure is that if a patent is to be denied then the examiner must write a report to justify this denial, while accepting it just requires a rubber stamp. Along with this the fees are only payable on accepted patents. Denying patents reduces revenue. If a challenge is made by another party then they must pay non-refundable re-examination fees.

        So the UPSTO is a perfect revenue collection scheme. It leaves the courts to sort out the problems it creates.

    3. abit

      Re: Are you kidding me?!

      The volume of information involved must be staggering - it is a librarians' task squared with all human sciences - law, medicine, technology. The miracle is the fact that the patent office is still in business. I would guess that people actually working there are incredibly bright.

      If they were not so bright the guy just moved in for my neighbor would own hundreds of patents in law, medicine and sciences.

      I would not last a day before my house is his house, my wife is his bitch, and my hand-gun is to my head.

      This is not yet happening, correct?

      1. Steve I

        Re: Are you kidding me?!

        "I would guess that people actually working there are incredibly bright."

        They are. You need to speak 2 languages for a lower-grade job and 3 to be a patent examiner. (out of the official english, French and German). You also need a decent degree from a recognised uni, but a lot of the examiners have PhDs.

        I worked there as a z/Os & Linux contractor and would have loved a permanent role (just missed out due to the aforementioned restructuring) - it's a friendly, relaxed place to work, with no 'Rah! Rah Rah! We want profits!" attitude.

        Espacenet (Google it) is a public gateway to the patent databases (there's over 130 but not all are public) and has some cool/funny stuff - try and find the patent for the foot-mounted dildo. It made me and my flatmates laugh when we read it...

  4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Same old same old

    "As a European public organisation the EPO fully respects freedom of the press as a core value of an open society"

    Or "your privacy".

    Or "your phone call is important to us"

    Don't they realise we all cottoned on to that years ago? Now it's a flag drawing attention to what they're trying to hide.

    1. chivo243 Silver badge
      Stop

      Re: Same old same old

      There is that term again "core value"... What a load of double speak cya blah blah. This core values joke is in place where I work, but don't ever use it in your own defense... It's for the grown ups :-{

  5. Michael Thibault
    Childcatcher

    Someone is thinking of the children, thankfully.

    "the EPO has a duty of care for its staff, who are its primary responsibility"...

    "all necessary measures to protect its staff and their families"

    Look! Babies! Where, in all of this, do the parents... ? Oh, wait... patents... ?

    I may have just put my finger on the problem here. Never mind.

  6. MacroRodent
    Mushroom

    Disgusting

    As an organization that effectively wields a lot of public power, the EPO must treat all applicants equally, even if it means leaving large companies to patiently wait for their turn at the end of a long queue. Otherwise it must be considered corrupt, and needs to be reformed, or dismantled.

    1. Fraggle850

      Re: Disgusting

      I don't dispute the general assertion re: treating everybody equally, however it does sound as though the PACE mechanism is available to all at no extra charge, at least that is the impression that I got from the original article. I wouldn't necessarily think that trialling a more efficient approach to this with larger organisations is discrimninatory.

      I suspect that the truth of the matter is more likely FUD in the ongoing internecine fighting that seems to have come about as a result of (possibly poorly managed but likely necessary) reform of a flawed organisation. This is, after all, a story that has come about as the result of a leaked email. The leaker will have a motivation, if the organisiation is in a state of internal conflict then leaking stuff to bloggers becomes a weapon. Not sure that lawerying-up is the answer though, Streisand effect anyone? It's certainly brought the state of the EPO to my attention.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Disgusting

        "however it does sound as though the PACE mechanism is available to all at no extra charge"

        I don't think they've worked out what would happen if everyone wanted to use it. Queue jumping only works if a few people do it and even then it only works for the jumpers.

        1. Fraggle850

          Re: Disgusting

          > I don't think they've worked out what would happen if everyone wanted to use it

          Yup, I'd guess that's why they're trying to head off the bigger players, although I note from the article that part of PACE is getting an applicant to select the most important subset of multiple patent applications.

  7. x3mxs

    (The US patent system is a (rubber-stamping operation) significantly cheaper and more efficient if you are a USA company.)

    There, ~I fixed it for you! :)

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Microsoft and apple money

    Enough to buy several countries outright. Is it any surprise they have EU offices in their pockets? They all want a bit of that cash pie.

    1. naive

      Re: Microsoft and apple money

      This is spot on, MS has bought up all the EU institutions with a very successful lobbying campaign.

      That is the reason EU is chasing google like a swarm of hungry piranhas. This whole EU is so foobar.

      1. Fraggle850

        Re: Microsoft and apple money

        Hmm... that'd be the same EU that implemented the anti-trust case against the microsofties over IE bundling then? Y'know, the same EU that levied a £484 million fine in 2013 when MS dropped the browser choice system in Win7?

        Not defending the EU, nor the 'buying' power of tech giants and their lobbyists, merely suggesting that you are looking for malicious intent where the most likely cause is really the usual mix of bureaucratic incompetence, blind ignorance of reality and an overwhelming desire on the part of the EU to appear relevant in the face of things about which they have very liuttle expertise or knowledge. I'd refer you to Occam's Razor.

        1. nijam Silver badge

          Re: Microsoft and apple money

          > the same EU that implemented the anti-trust case against the microsofties over IE bundling...

          ...but didn't bother enforcing it for more than about 10 minutes? Yes, that EU.

          1. Fraggle850

            Re: Microsoft and apple money

            Indeed, as I said bureaucratic incompetence.

            I've always been vaguely in favour of the European Union but as dear old blighty approaches the referendum I'm forced to think about it in more depth and all I can see is extra layers of bureaucracy and political agendas. I'm tending to think out is better, unless call me Dave can get some meaningful reform (as opposed to some window dressing to keep the little Englanders of the tory party quiet).

            1. Vic

              Re: Microsoft and apple money

              I've always been vaguely in favour of the European Union but ... I'm tending to think out is better

              I've generally been against the EU, but I'm tending towards voting to stay in, just to try to keep our pollies even slightly honest...

              Vic.

              1. Fraggle850

                Re: Microsoft and apple money

                Strange times indeed. Can't see how one bunch of mendacious shites can be expected to keep another bunch of mendacious shites honest but I admire your optimism. It's the expedient euro-fudging that worries me, most notably evident during the ERM (which is probably why the euro doesn't work, well that and the monetary union without fiscal union).

  9. Stuart 22 Silver badge

    "Meet Mr Blatterstelli"

    Was I the only one to misread it?

  10. Alan Denman
    Happy

    cluelessness as a business model?

    these patent offices just seem to want to take the money, thinking ain't for them!

  11. Zippy's Sausage Factory
    Black Helicopters

    Do these lawyers

    Have any link to Microsoft?

    Just wondering what else they don't want us to know...

  12. Mr. Irreverent

    The USPTO is most definitely NOT a rubber-stamping organization. The Italian and South African patent offices are just that: places where you register a patent, and the courts later sort out validity. The USPTO actually examines patent applications - in some cases very badly - but examine it does, and often at great expense to the applicant, particularly when the examiner is a dolt, which as noted is all too often.

    EPO examiners are paid much better than their US counterparts, and until a few years ago could almost always be counted on to conduct a more thorough and relevant examination of patent applications. Perhaps EPO examiners are too highly paid (how are their pensions funded, from their own contributions or by the EPO, which would then have to charge ever-higher fees of today's applicants to pay for yesterday's examiners?), but their response to the fat-trimming attempted by their boss is no different than the response of unionized public-sector employees anywhere: we're living off other peoples' money, don't touch our gravy train!

    The high-handed legal threats approach employed by the EPO in the present case of laundry-airing is pitiful, but so is the acquiescence to those threats by the blogger. If it's true, you can't be liable for libel, except in the USSR, the old East Germany, and present-day China.

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