back to article Euro Patent Office reforms hit another stumbling block: Reality

When he's not ignoring national laws and threatening employees, the president of the European Patent Office (EPO), Benoit Battistelli, is on a crusade to make things work faster. Against an ever-more unhappy background of EPO staff and patent examiners, Battistelli has for several years put forward the same defence: he is …

  1. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

    How long can it be before Battistelli's Reality Distortion Field finally gives up on him?

    The sooner the better I say....

  2. Will Godfrey Silver badge


    What makes you think He'll relinquish his position in 2018. The way he's re-writing the the organisations remit, I wouldn't be surprised if the necessary 'hooks' were already in place to ensure permanent control.

  3. Xamol

    Patent Process Too Fast For Lawyers

    A cynic might question whether this is partly because there's less time to bill hours... It would be interesting to see whether, despite being busier, lawyers are billing less time against each patent.

    1. Hollerithevo

      Re: Patent Process Too Fast For Lawyers

      Because although you wouldn't, lawyers will?

  4. Whitter

    How long is too long?

    No doubt some companies like long processing times (likely phrarma who patent a lot) . I seriously doubt most small companies do though: the last patent I got through took five years! What odds your company's inventor works for you anymore by the time you know if spending R&D for v2.0 is financially viable?

  5. Nick Ryan Silver badge

    Superficial examination, whatever its outcome may be, helps no one.

    Would somebody like to tell the US Patent Ofiice? Where the practice is that not even a superficial examination is performed with just a rubber stamping and adding to statistics to prove how innovative US business are. All that then happens is that patent validity is considered "somebody else's problem", much to the delight of the US legal system.

  6. Len

    Make it a proper EU institution already!

    I can't wait for the EPO to become a proper EU institution like so many others. Answerable to normal procedures (and ultimately to Parliament), normal laws, normal operating frameworks that can be amended if needed and people that can be fired if they don't perform. These fiefdoms don't benefit innovation.

  7. Cuddles

    How close, exactly?

    "From 54 per cent unhappiness to 7.7 per cent by, um, deciding that everyone that didn't answer failed to do so because they were 100 per cent happy with the EPO."

    And even then it doesn't really help their case. 7.7% isn't "close" to 4%, it's close to double that number. Even after all those contortions, they still end up claiming that their policies have resulted in a 100% increase in unhappiness among their customers. That's well past the point where a normal business would be asking serious questions about what's gone so horribly wrong, and even if they try to spin it to not look so bad to the outside world they certainly wouldn't be crowing about it in internal communications. I've mainly viewed Battistelli as your run-of-the-mill power-mad dictator, but it's seeming more and more as though the entire management team has completely lost contact with reality. We've gone from regular Soviet-style propaganda to all out "Kim-Jong Benoit was born on a unicorn and invented rainbows".

    1. Cereberus

      Re: How close, exactly?

      As the old saying goes - Lies, damn lies and statistics.

      If you take the figures in the story and change the spin to the opposite direction:

      14.28% response rate because every one else is unhappy but don't see any benefit in responding either because it will impact on any future applications, or because they think it won't make a difference. This means 144 non-respondents with the 13 who did and weren't happy is 157 of the 168 sample.

      Or tp put it another way 93.45% of are unhappy. As is often the case with these things the actual figure will be somewhere between but just as a purely speculative number for take it half of non-respondents were happy and half weren't. The satisfaction rate would then be 72 no response plus 13 who did = 85 of 168 = 50.59%

      Seems to me that is still a much bigger unhappiness level than there was.

  8. Herby

    Improve quality?

    One step might be to throw out all software patents. It might be a good start.

    After that the more through an examination, the more solid the patent. This goes without saying.

  9. Bakker


    Minor correction about your comment on quality metrics - there are 2 metrics at EPO which give different figures. The "99%" is the the new one which is self-reckoned. The "85-88" figure comes from an internal auditing sample and is still being done in parallel. Neither are revealed externally or officially.

    The 99% system had problems, as you say, with some departments having 100% quality (despite the 85-88 finding still existing) which made VP1 point out that it wasn't possible (in his opinion). Solution? Departments now aim to report an acceptable level of failure. Too little is suspicious, too much is bad. Simple. Set the target figure you want and staff will give you that figure. Because the 85-88 figure (and that is a generous figure I understand) is produced by semi-independent people it's less easy to game the system. Hence the difference in numbers. But both run in parallel

    PS And maybe both figures are wrong??

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