The member states of the European Patent Organisation have re-appointed EPO president António Campinos for a second five-year term in office, commencing 1 July 2023

The decision was made at a meeting of the EPO’s Administrative Council held in Munich. As far as is clear, there was no extensive discussion about the reappointment, despite a recent confrontation with staff representatives, the social unrest and concerns about deteriorating quality at the EPO.

As was reported in a press release: ‘During his first tenure Mr Campinos has steered the EPO through a sweeping digital transformation, with staff switching rapidly to large-scale teleworking back in March 2020. Beyond the efficiency gains triggered by new online workflows and tools, digital transformation is also delivering major benefits for users. The large-scale use of videoconferencing for oral hearings in patent cases, for instance, gave patent applicants access to justice during the pandemic.

By ramping up its consultation with users, the EPO has also redoubled efforts to maintain and enhance the quality of its products and services in recent years, while embedding sustainability more deeply across all aspects of its operations.

Commenting on his reappointment, Mr Campinos said: “It’s been a privilege to serve for a first term and I am honoured by this second mandate. I am looking forward to working with all colleagues and stakeholders, who have been so instrumental in our achievements to date and play a crucial role in helping us to build a global patent system that meets the needs of the innovation community.”‘


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25 comments

  1. The tail is definitely wagging the dog.

    How can a project like CA 32/22 sail through as it has done

    It is not a good day for the EPO/EPC and its staff! A head of an office who insults his staff as he did, should have been removed. This is the more so in that this person has showed at many occasions that it does not have the maturity and peace of mind required for holding such a position

    Let’s hope that this decision will not be regretted by lots of people!

      1. With enough dow, I mean dog food, the old dog will never be able to learn some tricks.
        He would be too frightened not to get any dog food!

  2. Also not a single word about complying with the EPC by the management and its supervisors?
    Art. 4a EPC?

    The silence is stunning.

    I wonder if anyone at the meeting even referred to the petition even once…

    1. The EPC is being degraded to abide by the wishes of the head of the EPO helped in this endeavor not only with the help of the organ meant to control it, the AC, but also by the BA/EBA which is obeying orders coming from the tenth floor.
      Just look at G 2/19 under his predecessor and at G3/19 or G1/21 under the present one.
      When the chair of the BA and the head of the EPO sign a MoU about bringing the BA back in town, it is farcical and cannot be taken seriously.
      One thing has to be acknowledged, the present tenant of the 10th floor is good at the show.
      All the documents stemming from the 10th floor are full of blooming meaningless management buzz words. A noticeable performance.
      As far his personal behavior is concerned, the performance is as well noticeable, but certainly not in a positive way.

  3. Well, it seems that “Mobility Package” (CA 32/22) devised by the President certainly helped the AC delegations to overlook an abject failure to meet a (supposed) key performance indicator, namely restoration of social peace.

    Also, with the President refusing to release the recording of the meeting in which he allegedly used foul language throughout, I suppose that the AC could feign ignorance of any reasons to reprimand, discipline or perhaps even dismiss the President for gross professional misconduct.

    Welcome to the 21st century EPO, where the concepts of the rule of law, democracy and transparency are interpreted in a truly Orwellian fashion.

    1. Peace is an agreement by two parties, if that cannot be reached Adam Smith’s invisble hand and Charles Darwin’s survival of the fittest may take over, Filing statistics over the last decade show some of the major players having reduced their filings already. For the moment ths slack is more than made up by new players, But can and will this last?
      (rhetoric question)

  4. Maybe it has little to do with this discussion, but I hear a lot about rule, law, quality, etc. from some colleagues and now I see the same terms being used here and I decided to share what I honestly think of these people. They are the most difficult people to work with because they are very little collaborative, work as least as they can, can only complain and spread bad mood, are totally applicant adverse and claim to deliver the best quality being though able to focus only on very formalistic aspects without going to the substance of their own or others‘ files. Typical of these examiners is to raise almost exclusively clarity objections as to unfounded missing essential features or goals to be achieved which are easy to be raised simply comparing claims and description and do not require a real understanding of the application (and of the prior art). They annoy other examiners with observations on not adapted description to the claims, generic sentences they don‘t like in the description, formulation of computer or method claims not fully to their taste, etc. without giving any contribution to the substantial analysis and understanding of the application, and finally they deliver the worst searches because they carry out them in the least time as possible. Sorry for my vent, but I am bit fed up of these colleagues and I want to let external users beware of those ones filling their mouth with law, rule or quality: they are the ones providing the worst service to you and causing the most troubles to the Office, including blocking any change and innovation in our work. I understand that here it is about criticizing the management of the EPO and I do not completely disagree with this even if I find most of the people newly appointed to the mid management capable and pleasant. But I have very little to do with managers, and my concerns and troubles origin mainly from peer examiners who constantly talk about law, legality, rule, convention, constitution, … and simply do a bad job (of course their statements can be generally considered right but clash with their work behaviors, and they would better concentrate on their own job and less harm colleagues and applicants – I met too many of the kind, they are fortunately not the majority and become less and less with the time)

    1. @Examiner Ferdinand

      You seem to complain about colleagues who are little collaborative and difficult to work with. But contrary to you, they don’t post against their peers publicly. Only management does that. Battistelli had for instance said that examiners are the “losers of the industry”.

      You link honorable claims such as the Rule of Law to difficult colleagues. This is exactly what Campinos said about staff when the Work-to-rule actions started : “Staff is difficult”

      Are you aware that EPO staff was not even allowed to demonstrate on the Office premises (contrary to Greenpeace) and was thrown away on the streets again?

      You should rather be shocked by what EPO management does instead of focusing on a few colleagues you despise and who make you make wrong generalizations.

    2. “formulation of computer or method claims not fully to their taste”

      EPO rewrite the rules, those kind of patents should go straight to the bin.

      Instead of an EPO following the Law, they are spécialistes in bending the rules to do whatever they want, knowing that they operate in impunity.

    3. So, if I get you right, if your colleagues have lost their motivation, it’s entirely their fault?
      (On your answer to this question will depend your future managerial career at the EPO.)
      But indeed your post had little to do with the discussion.

    4. How refreshing to read someone form th other side of the fence. I bet, considering approval ratings on economic conditions and the level of interest of job responsibilities at the EPO, you are not alone. I amsure that there is room for improvement, but peace is an agreement between two parties.

    5. Dear Ferdinand,

      Your posting sounds like trolling, i.e., moving the discussion in another direction. There are always good and bad examiners, like managers, attorneys, etc. So that’s nothing new under the sun.

      I wish though to comment on one pearl of wisdom that you shared with us. Missing essential features in the description means that the invention is insufficiently disclosed. Of course then they would miss also in the claims and once you grant the patent there’s not much you can do about it, since clarity is not a ground for opposition. I’ve dealt with such a case myself and in the opposition division we felt very frustrated that our hands were bound.

      You know why it happened? It’s because colleagues are pressured by the management to produce as much as possible. Your general criticism of your colleagues and your excepting the management sounds a bit arrogant and doesn’t earn you much sympathy.

    6. I sense here the so called-comer, frustrated that his career, pension be not at the level of the those who will soon live the EPO to his relief (read the previous generations of EPO examiners who built the success story EPO in which our beloved Ferdinand now works).

      Ferdinand why didn’t you stand to staff reps elections to change and improve things you dislike ?

      Being a spectator is easy, acting requires motivation and work but may lead to changes you know. Perhaps that your contribution will contribute to establish the wonderful managerial vision you seem to have of a modern EPO ?

  5. There is no difference between a group of examiners and a group of people: Gauss’ distribution applies.

    But what is told to us by examiner Ferdinand could have been conceived by people having contributed to CA 32/22!

    As examiners are still for a wast part of them in home office, how can Ferdinand be so positive and report conversations which should have occurred.

    I would thus take his testimony not just with a piece of salt, but with a barge full of it.

    Another explanation: Ferdinand would like to become a manager.

    To sum it up, I have great difficulties in following what Ferdinand has told us. It rather looks fabricated by the PR department.

  6. Well, it is the first time that I hear an EPO examiner insult his colleagues so candidly, but you are entitled to your opinion.
    Would it be defamation if an EPO employee stated without evidence that, on the contrary, he or she observed that the EPO employees who have had the most success in their career at the EPO are those who care the least about their colleagues and about the applicants?

    1. Very amusing. I can see why you thought that cartoon had nothing to do with the current discussion. 😉

  7. sorry for having distracted you from your considerations on Orwell, Darwin, Presidents, Greenpeace, etc. I must admit I don‘t know by heart Art 4a and CA 32/22 and I cannot tell why so many people are demotivated, but be sure that they are not so few and among the ones since longer in the office are the majority, I would say (maybe I will be like them in twenty five years, if I don‘t retire before with sixty …). Essential features for the invention missing in the description are a matter of Art 83, in any case the frequent and annoying discussions brought up by those examiners are on features actually NOT essential to the invention because they are raised regardless of what the invention is and what the prior art teaches (an easy way to raise objections without spending time to really understand and properly search/examine the application and the relevant prior art). Typical example: a feature renders novel and inventive a claim (or maybe not, usually they don’t even determine that), they look with the magnifying glass where that feature is described together with a further detail in the description and they arrogantly force the applicant (or the first examiner as chair) to claim also that detail without any plausible reason. They barely engage them selves in other questions but they do the above in a consistent and definitive way. There are of course many other similar examples, but I can promise you, they all have very little to do with the EPC or the guidelines. And it could be typical/possible only for certain fields (like security applications, for example). I will stop here, I wanted to signal this anomaly of many of our colleagues, I will survive with it and if you don‘t bother, especially you attorneys, then it is fine, I don’t count anything, but still I don‘t find it normal (and sorry to tell you, I am more concerned about these things than other high level issues discussed here). If I may, a very last concern from my side (only for our inner circle): why do examiners have to compensate for all outages caused by BIT, which is rightly committed to the long-due digitization and modernization of our outdated system, but seems to not understand (or pretends to …) that every outage causes work overtime for us, which is in principle Ok with the flexibility and salary we have, but could be used for better purposes. Gruß, F.

    1. @Examiner Ferdinand,
      I honestly fail to understand what your last entry has to do with the reappointment of the president.

      Your acknowledgment that you really do not know what Art 4a or CA 33/22 means that you have no feeling whatsoever about the political environment in which the EPO moves.

      This is what matters at the moment and not how some divisions act or not act.

      At the end of his time, the predecessor on the 10th floor published a document heralding all his achievements especially in IT matters.

      Shortly after taking office ether new one published a document showing that his predecessor had left the IT system in tatters. With the help of aficionados from the Iberian peninsula he started changing the IT systems. The problem is that the IT systems should be helping staff and not hindering it.
      The decisions taken in the higher spheres show are profound lack of understanding of the legal basis and procedures in grant and opposition. I could even add a profound disdain of all this.

      This is also shown by the various amendments to the procedure without any legal basis in the EPC. There are mechanisms to amend the EPC, but they are carefully ignored.

      Sorry for you, but you missed the correct forum to utter your grapes about colleagues and about the IT systems in the office!

      It is your good right to think those a minor problems, but they should not find their way in a blog which deals with much more important matters.

      Your opinion is respectable like any other, but I would be much more selective in the forum you chose to utter it. I would advise you to keep quiet for a while, or at least contribute meaningfully to the post!

    2. It is understandable that after two years of pandemic going into a war-infused inflation causes difficulties to maintain one’s mental hygiene. It is understandable that when your employer uses these circumstances to further deprive your or your children’s benefits does not help either. It is also understandable that some reach a boiling point that end up a comment on a public blog openly complaining about one’s fellow colleagues.
      It is all understandable… once.

      But are you seriously going to bring up specific examples from your work, that you, personally, do not agree with, each time this blog addresses an issue relating to the management and the possible future of the European patent system?

      Did this blog provided too much space for discussion? Are we facing EPO’s very own troll army?
      It is hard not to notice how the level of discussion under EPO topics degrading, even on this blog.

      I hope I’m wrong.

  8. How in the 21st century international organisations such as the EPO can still be exempt of respecting basic democratic principles and human rights baffles the mind.
    As a public organisation the EPO should actually be setting examples in these areas. Checks and balances are implicitly needed for this. None are available currently.
    Currently however we are moving closer to medieval times than ever before. One president in charge of both business and social security. Dare I remind you that international organisations are both a business and a state? All EPO member states have a democratically elected government. The EPO is still ruled in a feudal manner for both business and state matters. A single person has power over life and death (literally as this also covers all healthcare matters) of EPO employees, and staff has absolutely no influence in the election of its head of state or government. I understand that the business side of things can be run like any other company. But the Eponia side of things should at least attempt to maintain the apparent effort of meeting the minimum democratic standards of its member countries, while also respecting basic human rights.
    Furthermore an independent competent court to actually rule on all matters (not just formal matters like ILO-AT) is more than overdue. I’m looking at you ECHR…
    ( Should I also mention that nepotism and corruption are legal at the EPO and no one seems to care?)

    International organisations were made independent of states for many reasons, but not in order to operate in a lawless vacuum. Unfortunately this is the case and the current breed of state-managers is drunk on unlimited power.

  9. Examiner Ferdinand,

    While examination should be substantive and indeed not formalistic,
    Art. 83 and 84 EPC are clearly formulated as requirements, and included in the “requirements” section of both the EPC and the case law book. None of this is the case for novelty and inventive step.

    Putting the emphasis mainly on the latter was fine decades ago, when applications were filed after the implementation of something real (leading to a sufficient disclosure by the engineer-researcher), the detailed description was not edited by the attorney, who normally drafted clear claims.
    Nowadays this is usually no longer the case.

    If the claims are not clear, people (potential targets of future patent right holders) will understand them in different manners, or not understand at all what is meant without relying on the description, I guess you can see why this should then never be the case. If the claims do not define the invention, you cannot expect people (potential targets) to read the description for each patent and find this out by themselves, so it is necessary that they include essential features.
    Re. disclosure, this is the cornerstone, justification for the patent system, i.e. the most important of all, before clarity.
    These are fundamental requirements which must be fulfilled first, before patentability. They must be assessed in view of the common general knowledge of the skilled person (normally books, e.g. usually not the same as prior art documents).

    1. I agree with you. In fact, I make extensive use of Articles 83 and 84 objections, mostly in combination with inventive step (insufficient disclosure and missing essential features, if really founded, lead almost necessarily to a lack of inventive step), the problem is when such objections are not justified and abused, which is very often the case, see the example mentioned earlier on (typically, these are easy to recognize in a communication as soon as instead of having a logically and well reasoned objection, only repeated and empty standard clauses accompany the claim passage under accuse). But nothing of this has to do with the president!

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