Increase democratic control of patent offices

Complex technocratic issue patent offices lead to deceptive communication practices and lobbying activities that aim the legislator and harass the patent examiners. Privatisation of patent examination may be an option. A complex technocratic environment assists patent offices to influence the legislator in a way that pursues the institutional and commercial bias of the patent community, reflected in their belief systems. Persuasion for patenting based on the assumption that small enterprises just lack awareness puts preconceptions over the rationale of market choice. In a liberal democracy public servants and policy makers do not educate but listen.

The case of the European Patent Office (EPO)

Broken Governance

The European Patent Office (EPO) is a good example of a patent office outside of any Parliamentary control. The EPO is governed by an Administrative Council, where several members are the national patent offices themselves!

The list of representatives at the Administrative Council of the EPO highlights that the Executive is also the Legislator:

BE: Office de la Propriété Intellectuelle
BG: Patent Office of the Republic of Bulgaria
CZ: Industrial Property Office of the Czech Republic
DK: Danish Patent and Trademark Office
EE: Estonian Patent Office
ES: Department, Spanish Patent and Trademark Office
FI: National Board of Patents and Registration of Finland
FR: Institut National de la Propriété Industrielle
UK: UK Intellectual Property Office
GR: Industrial Property Organisation (OBI)
HU: Hungarian Patent Office
HR: State Intellectual Property Office of the Republic of Croatia
IE: Irish Patents Office
IS: Icelandic Patent Office
IT: Office italien des brevets et des marques
LT: The State Patent Bureau of the Republic of Lithuania
LV: Latvian Patent Office
NL: Netherlands Patent Office
NO: Norwegian Industrial Property Office
PL: Patent Office of the Republic of Poland
PT: National Institute of Industrial Property
RO: State Office for Inventions and Trademarks
SE: Swedish Patent and Registration Office
SI: Slovenian Intellectual Property Office
SK: Industrial Property Office of the Slovak Republic
TR: Turkish Patent Institute

This lack of seperation of powers between the legislative powers and the executive powers in the European Patent Organisation leads to criticisims.

The Staff Union of the European Patent Office (SUEPO) is mentioning the governance of the EPO as an heated debate:

On June 19th the staff of the EPO in Munich striked (photos…) against the undermining of the European Patent System by the body entrusted with its governance, the Administrative Council. Simultaneously there was a demonstration held in Bern, in front of the Swiss Patent Office - home of Mr. Grossenbacher, the Chairman of the Administrative Council. National and individual interests (many of which financial) are dominating the decision making process and making it increasingly difficult for staff to maintain a high quality output of valid patents. The issue of governance of the EPO and its effect on the future of the European Patent System is a topic of heated debate.

Budget control

The EPO is self-financed over the fees it collects (renewal fees notably). It has a total independence in terms of budget. This might lead to a policy which aims for more patents.

Lobbying

L’Office européen des brevets bénéficie lui aussi d’une très large autonomie. Son activité dégage également des excédents mais avec l’avantage supplémentaire pour lui qu’aucun État ne vient les ponctionner. Ces excédents lui permettent de financer des professionnels des relations publiques pour influencer les choix du Parlement Européen.

* The EPO offers its expertise for co-operation with the Community institutions in patent matters
[…]
* The EPO strongly advocates the creation of a European court for patents
[…]
* The EPO strongly supports the EC in its efforts to introduce a Community patent system

  • Lobbying the European Commission
    • Co-organisation of the Inventor of the Year
    • Recruitment of ex-employees of DG Internal Market
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