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European Patent Office censors its employees

Source: Grill IP patents news

EPO_ Censorship_News

The European Patent Office (EPO) is apparently stopping all its employees from having access to the popular IPKat blog, The Register reports. The IPKat blog is famous in the patent world, but earning the displeasure of the EPO leadership has clearly had the so-called Streisand effect, named after the Hollywood star who tried to ban publication of pictures photo of her Malibu villa. As soon as she tried to obtain an injunction, pictures of her beachfront property started to be reposted across the internet. So what triggered the EPO’s severe sanction against a relatively small British blog focusing on intellectual property issues? The management was unhappy about an article detailing forthcoming changes discussed by the EPO’s Board of Directors. The author criticized the changes, arguing that they could result in increasing the cost of appeals by up to five times current levels. The EPO’s boss, Benoit Battistelli, argues that the extra income will improve the work of the organisation’s Board of Directors.

The IPKat author is not convinced. The blog says that the changes will concentrate power in the hands of a small group of people who call themselves President’s team. As the ban accessing the IPKat blog indicates, this fear may not be too far-fetched. So who will appear next on the index of prescribed websites. The journalists from The Register assume that it could be their own website, and – according to leaks from the EPO – this might happen in the near future.

As a result, articles about the EPO originally published on IPKat and by The Register have been reposted dozens of times, both by other bloggers and Facebook users.

Critics argue that both the censorship and the proposed increase in fees does not bode well. They claim that Benoit Battistelli and his team are just flexing their muscles, and might plan a fundamental change of the EPO’s patent process. If the EPO would begin to shift its focus from being an independent arbiter to making money, then the transparency of the patenting process could soon be a thing of the past.

Critics also point to what they claim to be preferential treatment of Microsoft, and wonder who else he might favour. The website Techrights published a screenshot of an internal EPO email, which suggests that ten other companies could be lined up to receive preferential treatment for their patent applications: Canon, Philips, Qualcomm, BASF, Bayer, Samsung, Huawei, Siemens, Ericsson and Fujitsu. There may be payments involved to speed up the patent process, and those who are not on the list (or fail to pay extra), may be at the end up at the end of the queue when it comes to patent applications.


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