The Administrative Council of the European Patent Office unanimously adopted the EPO’s Strategic Plan 2023 during the AC meeting earlier this week in Munich.

According to an announcement published on the EPO website today, president António Campinos said: ‘This Strategic Plan is a clear vision of how we want our Office to look in the future, and how we plan to achieve it. (…) What we have now is a roadmap for achieving a more sustainable patent office for Europe, better equipped to succeed in an evolving IP landscape. We intend to be a more adaptable and agile organisation that can support inventors everywhere with improved and more responsive services (…).’

As is explained in the announcement, the ‘Strategic Plan identifies five main areas:

  • Build an engaged, knowledgeable and collaborative organisation:SP2023 looks at several areas that may help staff to realise their full professional potential and also at ways of identifying, recruiting and retaining talent
  • Simplify and modernise EPO IT systems:the plan looks at ways of simplifying and modernising the EPO’s IT system. They include a single tool to support an end-to-end electronic patent granting process and further investment in prior art databases, with a special focus on Asian documentation and standards.
  • Deliver high-quality products and services efficiently:these initiatives are aimed at guaranteeing the high standard of EPO products and services and include a user-agreed definition of quality, as well as a more flexible patent granting process.
  • Build a European patent system and network with a global impact: co-operation with the national patent offices (NPOs) of member states and international partners will be strengthened. The EPO will review the financial and operational support that it offers to encourage greater participation, ensure cost-efficient and timely delivery and maximise the impact of co-operation activities.
  • Secure long-term sustainability: the plan outlines initiatives that will ensure the EPO’s financial and environmental sustainability. The EPO intends to create an Observatory, a platform for discussion with public and private stakeholders and analysis. It will also set clear objectives for reducing its carbon footprint, lowering energy and paper consumption and eliminating plastics.’

Together with the plan, for which two rounds of consultation were held, a 6:29 minutes video was published, in which António Campinos and EPO staff members give an explanation about the SP2023.

Memorandum of Understanding with Boards of Appeal

Also in Munich, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed by Campinos and Carl Josefsson, president of the Boards of Appeal, to support the BoA’s organisational autonomy and deal, as was explained in a message ‘with practical issues that have arisen since the structural reform of the BoA in June 2016.’

‘The Office will facilitate the access of the BoA Unit to its legal, financial and administrative services (…). The agreement also provides for a number of measures that are intended to support the BoA in the preparatory process of the budget.

In addition to these measures, the MoU contains specific provisions that more clearly define the powers allocated to the President of the Boards of Appeal as site manager and in exercising disciplinary powers. The roles of both parties are also more clearly defined on issues such as external communication, policy consultation, and a mechanism to resolve disagreements.’

Reportedly, part of the AC meeting 26 and 27 June 2019 in Munich was dedicated to a discussion of the Staff Engagement Survey carried out by Willis Towers Watson, which was very negative for the EPO management. The communiqué of the AC meeting hasn’t yet been published. That will probably happen soon here.


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7 comments

  1. Build an engaged, knowledgeable and collaborative organisation:
    How to gag staff so that they are at the mercy of management. Recruit mercenaries who can be fired at will, preferably before ten years of service so that they cannot accrue pension rights. Above all, keep in place a manager of inHR.

    Simplify and modernise EPO IT systems:
    How to bring my buddies from Alicante in the EPO. A VP was not enough, I also needed some PDs from there. Those having worked in the EPO IT department in the past are all daft, but as I could not fire them all at once, I gave those jobs and grades ad personam.

    Deliver high-quality products and services efficiently:
    Push ever higher production targets in ever less time available, so that the courts will have to decide about validity. The UPC should not be without work. How quality can be increased with reducing training time for examiners needs to be explained. But those who do not swallow this, are simply ignorant!

    Build a European patent system and network with a global impact:
    Or how to buy votes in AC. Only member states nice to me during AC meetings will get money! The others nope! In other words Battistelli 2. IP5 meetings are good to accrue Miles and More, but not for the carbon footprint.

    Secure long-term sustainability
    Make sure that all managers will get lots of bonuses and those actually doing the work less than ever. Present fake problems to the AC, so its members cannot resist constantly reducing staff advantages. See also at the top here.
    You might get involved in a discussion forum, new buzz word “Observatory”, but we will decide at the end what we want and think is good for the EPO.
    Decide to regroup the EPO in one location, why not Lisbon, so all travel between branches can be brought to nil. Good also for the carbon footprint. As long as the management will be allowed to travel, all is OK.

    When reading this drivel, one needs a sick bag at hand! No joke! It is truly sickening to read all this management gobbledygook trash. Only those wanting to be impressed by the apparent height of view will swallow it. Anybody reflecting on it can only shake its head!

    Techrights: FINGERS OFF!!!

  2. Comment on that Reply. Can anybody here rebut it? It’s right on the nail, isn’t it? Not just at the EPO but everywhere.

    We live now in the age of impunity, the age of the bloviating “Hyperleader” who cultivates his super-gullible and unquestioning world-wide fan base with the help of Fake News broadcast over the Internet. Donald Trump was the first but now we in Europe are saddled with his various disciples, to be found in an ever-increasing number of the EPC Member States, whose influence reaches to Brussels and Munich..

    But cling to optimism. If the resistance to attacks on Democracy and the Rule of Law is stalwart and unrelenting, such “leaders” can be subdued. The one in Turkey is no so cocky now, I imagine. Alistair de Pfeffel “Boris” Johnson in London has suddenly gone all quiet. Let’s see what happens in the USA, these next 12 months. In the long run, all things must pass. There is hope yet!

  3. “retaining talent” ?

    How do they wish to do so, beyond the “golden cage” effect?

    Also, PD3.1 desire to create a turnover of 10% of active staff every year contradicts this very much as well.

    1. Dear Transparency

      Who is (or what is) PD3.1 ?

      A 10% staff turnover every year is practised in such companies as Goldman Sachs and Amazon. The rule is simple and brutal : based on annual performance appraisals, the 10% lowest performers are terminated.

      That does not sound very effective for attracting “talents” and building teamwork and mutual training within examiners.

      1. Sorry, mistyped.
        PD 4.1

        I know what debunked “strategy” this 10% turnover refers to (GE did so in the past, but it broke quality continuity, and major projects which take longer to develop got crashed due to this blind policy).

  4. Take a look at the picture from the staff survey published in R.I.P. Kat:
    https://rip-kat.blogspot.com/2019/05/a-picture-is-worth-1000-words.html

    That tells you all that you need to know. In essence, the current culture at the EPO works well for a small number of managers but makes life miserable for the much larger number of examiners that do all of the work that generates the EPO’s funding.

    In the private sector, it has long been the case that the management and overseers (non-executive directors) of a company form a cosy relationship that leads to hyper-inflated salaries and massive bonuses or pay-offs (even extending to what could be viewed as rewards for failure).

    We should perhaps not be so surprised that the same kind of relationship has now translated to the EPO. Thus, it now seems that, so long as they get an adequate pay-off, the AC will support ever-increasing rewards for the EPO’s management, even if there is clear evidence of abject failures of the policies of that management.

    How does the EPO keep up the flow of funds that guarantees a complacent and compliant AC? Simple! Just drive down the EPO’s “costs” (for which read salaries and benefits for the majority of the workforce, including examiners) at the same time as increasing the performance demanded from each examiner and remunerating well those managers that enforce the increased targets. In a nutshell, this explains the huge gap in levels of contentment between “the workforce” and “the management” of the EPO.

    It does not take a genius to work out why such a policy cannot be sustained in the long term without seriously degrading the quality of the EPO’s work products. Whilst one might assume that this means that the whole charade must come to an end at some point, I do not believe that such an assumption is currently justified.

    The shareholders of a private company might eventually rebel against a greedy and useless management. Also, the company’s customers might take their custom elsewhere. However, the EPO’s current set-up means that the management and the AC are free to ignore the opinions of the EPO’s “stakeholders”, as well as national and EU laws that might otherwise constrain their employment practices. Also, the EPO’s “customers” cannot go anywhere else to obtain a European patent (certainly not via the PCT route), never mind such a patent having unitary effect.

    Thus, I rather suspect that the most likely outcome is that, in the long term, the downwards direction in quality of the EPO’s work products will continue … all the way to the bottom.

  5. It should read PD 4.3, the famous lady who does not have a clue but a lot of power. As long as she and her husband are in place, there will be no peace at the EPO.

    The EPO does not merely sell financial or everyday products. It delivers a service to its users, and plays the role of defending the public at large. A monopoly should only be granted if is duly justified. This idea has long been forgotten in view of all the bonuses which primarily profit to the management.

    A patent is not an ordinary product, and reducing the work of an examiner to mere products shows a big ignorance and disdain of the work done by examiners. To give as aim a 10% turnover a year at the EPO is stupid and confirms that we have to deal here with an ignorant pseudo manager. The same applies to 5 years contracts for examiners.

    As said by the previous commenter, the EPO is on a protected market, so that there is no need to make profit as for Amazon or Goldman Sachs. That it should work efficiently goes without saying, but being the guardian of the interests of the public it cannot be measured like the number of Big Macs sold every day. Would anybody accept that judges are paid in proportion of the number of cases they deal with? What is required as their role is to protect society are well written decisions taking all necessary elements into account.

    That some examiners intended to have a cushy life and tried any trick to work less is not to be denied. But the role of management is not to consider that all examiners are lazy and should be kicked in their rear part, it is to target those actually abusing the system and leave the other in peace.

    It is a fallacy to claim the EPO is in dire financial problems. If one fabricates figures which are meant to show the contrary, then the member states become frightened at the idea to have to support the EPO. The EPO has always been profitable, contrary to what has been claimed by all heads of the EPO since Mrs Brimelow.

    If the AC would play the role it is meant to play, it would look further than the well-known short time shareholder value. But since the number of grants is always increasing, the annual fee is a good complement for the national budget of member states. Why do anything which could endanger the lovely cash cow at hand?

    That by digging their heads in the ground the member states risk their bottoms being slapped is something they ignore happily. And the pseudo managers can continue to play havoc.

    I dare think what would have happened to the EPO should the present pseudo managers had been in charge in the early days of the EPO. Without speculating a lot, one could say that the EPO would have stayed at best at the 30-40 000 applications a year as forecasted by the Interim Committee.

    Techrights: FINGERS OFF!!
    Directly or indirectly, for instance in the form of a link which leads directly to a specific comment.
    This is poaching whether you like it or not.
    You do not insert a comment in your text, but you nevertheless use it.
    I refuse to contribute to your blog.

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