Flocke

Interview with Dr. Heiner Flocke, Chairman of patentverein.de e.V.
Director of iC-Haus GmbH, Bodenheim (around 230 employees) and chairman of patentverein.de e.V., founded in 2003 that considers itself as a self-help organisation of the industry.

**The board of directors of the European Patent Office is nearly exclusively composed of representatives of the national patent offices. Yet, half of the yearly fees go to the national patent offices. This contributed to the emergence of this pan-european organisation that controls itself and profits from it. I would certainly change this construction and even wonder whether this is legal. But which court could answer such a question. Which Parliament is competent and could legislate on this case?

I don't believe the European Patent Office, such as it exists today, will realise the necessary changes in a sustained and consequent manner by itself and out of its own strengths. The legislator is needed because we can not continue in this form."**

SMEs expect that the patent office leads the movement for quality.

"If there are two things that don't fit together than it is SMEs and the existing patent system. Considering only the registration numbers, it is clear that SMEs are a 'free-patent zone' and not participating in the patent system. 50% of the registrations are made by only 3% of the registered, a third of registrations come from 0,3%, the so-called frequent registerers.
But the consequence can't be to conform SMEs to the patent system. the decisive question is: How can the patent system change in order to successfully support SMEs and be accepted by them? The backbone of the German economy are SMEs which provide 70% of the working places and 80% of professional training places. And there is no doubt about the strength to innovate of SMEs. For example, 40% of Mechanical engineers in companies work with less than 250 workers."

"For SMEs, the own product - with patents for real inventions and in order to prevent reproduction - is central, not the tactical patent used as a weapon or the licensing of patents. SMEs focus on the creativity of their developments and trust in a reasonable patent system in the sense of the patent legislation.

Patents come mainly from large companies; SMEs may have one patent a year too. However, the unequally distributed power resources represent a risk for SMEs in nowadays patent system and threaten especially its promising innovations, that have potential for success on the market thanks to their technical developments. Ignoring of "ducking" is in this situation not an appropriate defence strategy for SMEs.

"A major evil of the system is the lack of patent quality and the resulting invasion of patents. Nowadays, patents are being granted too easily. You only need to change a tiny bit regarding the technical level to make a chance for a patent - the worst sort are so-called application patents.

"the granting directives, plan and pay guidelines make it easier for and examiner to grant a patent than to reject it. He would need to justify in details a rejection and in 30% of the cases he has to expect a complain of the registerer where the case will be re-examined."

"In some large companies, the patent department is becoming more creative than the development division."

"It must hurt to hold thousands of patents out of tactical reasons."