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Archived updates for Wednesday, November 01, 2006

More Strikes at the European Patent Office

According to Helena Spongenberg writing for EUOBSERVER/FOCUS on October 25, 2006, patent examiners at the Munich-based European Patent Office (EPO) held a "staff rally" strike on Wednesday (25 October) due to quality v. quantity concerns over the implementation of a new system in 2007 to assess the work of the examiners. Emma Barraclough adds in Managing Intellectual Property on October 30, 2006, that EPO patent examiners are holding further strikes this week to protest against the introduction of a new way of assessing their productivity.

According to the Staff Union of the EPO (SUEPO) website these "industrial actions" have been sparked off by a number of issues, including
a move by the Office for the introduction of a new reporting system for examiners, ironically labelled PAX. Staff are objecting to the focus on and drive for production (measured in patents granted) at the expense of recognition of quality and the time required to examine patentability to a high level of legal certainty. So far, the cumulative participation of strike actions this year is conservatively estimated at well over 7500 man-days.
A declaration was passed by Munich staff as part of a demonstration outside of the Administrative Council also demands that the President of the EPO:
  • respect the requirements of the European Patent Convention and the EPO Service Regulations, and stop the further degradation of the Service Regulations,
  • respect prior commitments of the administration concerning the reporting system and the pension contributions,
  • give staff both the technical means and the time to fulfil their obligations vis-à-vis the European public as demanded from them by the European Patent Convention,
  • put an immediate stop to the degradation of the rights and working
    conditions of the EPO Staff, which degradation does not seem justified by any internal or external necessities.
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