Industry Criticizes European Patent Office for Superficial Examination
The quality of patent examination at the European Patent Office (EPO) has come under criticism from industry players. The Industry Patent Quality Charter (IPQC), an initiative made up of 21 companies, has expressed concern about the quality of patent examination at the EPO. According to the head of patents at Siemens, Beat Weibel, the EPO is prioritizing processing as many patents as possible, which has resulted in increased production pressure on examiners. Weibel explains that the workload for patent applications is increasing on average while examiners are expected to work at a faster pace, which has led to the quality of patent examination deteriorating.
The head of patents at Bayer, Jörg Thomaier, who is also part of the IPQC, agrees with Weibel’s concerns. He notes that the EPO used to take long to review patents, but now focuses more on speed than on thorough testing. Thomaier points out that this has resulted in the revocation rate of patents in appeal proceedings increasing. A revocation is a significant setback for the patent applicant, making it difficult for them to enforce their patent rights.
The IPQC comprises some of the largest applicants at the EPO, including Swiss company Roche, which emphasizes that reliable patents form the basis for investing in research. Gabriele Mohsler, Vice President of Patent Development at Ericsson, another IPQC member, says that patents are becoming more complicated, requiring examiners to have more time to review them.
The EPO defends the quality of its patent research, stating that it always prioritizes this aspect. However, the Patent Office acknowledges that its workgroup on quality “always has top priority”, and it recognizes that its capacity is not enough in the face of rising patent applications.
In conclusion, the IPQC believes the quality of patent examination at the EPO has deteriorated and hopes that, through its initiative, the EPO will restore its quality of service, which it once considered the benchmark of patent quality. One solution to this issue is to hire more staff to cope with the rising number of patent applications.