In recent times, strange and disturbing things appear to have been afoot within the European Patent Organization. While the goings-on within the EPO have been reported by other IP blogs, by some specialist IP media outlets and (to a much lesser degree) in the general media, I have so far chosen quite deliberately not to comment.
The primary reason for my silence on the issue has been the very great difficulty in getting at anything even vaguely resembling the ‘truth’ about what is actually causing the ructions at the EPO. One thing that people have often said to me about this blog (and of which I am quite proud) is how well-researched the articles often are, and how much time it must take me to write them. I can safely say that the ongoing disputes at the EPO would constitute the most heavily researched article I have never written! This article does not even try to account for all of the material I have read in trying (and failing) to get a handle on what is going on at the EPO.
Which is not to say that I do not care. I care very much. And the reason I care very much is simple – if the EPO becomes dysfunctional and ineffective, it is the applicants for European patents who ultimately suffer. Those applicants include some of my clients, the clients of dozens of other Australian patent attorneys and, perhaps, numerous other Australian applicants who are more directly represented before the EPO. And, of course, applicants from all around the world.
So what is going on at the EPO? Is it dysfunctional? Is there, as some are alleging, ‘corruption’ at the top? Or, as I am coming to suspect, is all of the recent negative publicity largely the result of a messy and increasingly vitriolic labour dispute? (Which is, of course, not to say that all of the above are mutually exclusive.)