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There were 370 people on the at the IPBC yesterday. They were treated to an action packed day. I am not going to give a full summary as this post would just be too long. So here are a few titbits for you instead:
• Ciarán McGinley, the head of the controlling office at the EPO, told delegates that applications to the office were down around 8% this year. This has had an effect on income, as has the fact that the grant rate was below 50% for the first time. Basically, by putting more emphasis on quality, he said, the office is denying itself revenues. In a conversation afterwards, McGinley also said that the examining corps was now at full strength and so the only recruitment that would take place in the immediate future would be to replace examiners that leave. Attrition rates at the EPO are relatively low. There are just over 4,000 examiners and less than 200 leave - for whatever reason - each year.
• Sherry Knowles, head of IP at GSK, was very enthusiastic about David Kappos becoming the new Director of the USPTO. Her hope is that his appointment will lead to a resolution of the claims and continuations issue, which GSK has been so prominent in opposing through the Tafas v Doll case. In an interview I did with Marshall Phelps of Microsoft, I asked him what he thought about IBM's top IP man going to lead the office. He was very relaxed, talked about Kappos as a man of the utmost integrity and said that given his background with the company that is the office's number one user there was no way he was going to be anything other than completely transparent in the way that he operated. Todd Dickinson, executive director of the USPTO, said that one of Kappos's priorities has to be the rebuilding of fences with the office's user community; he is going to need its help as he seeks to cut the backlog and tackle other pressing issues in the face of a severe budgetary crisis.
• On patent reform, Dickinson said that he still expects something to find its way onto the statute books either later this year or next year. There are problems to overcome though - including post-grant opposition procedures - while the House of Representatives seems to want to revisit the entire package and not rely on the work that has already been done in the Senate. This makes it difficult to predict exactly what form the final legislation will take.
• Ian Harvey, chairman of the Intellectual Property Institute, told delegates that there was more patent litigation in China than in any other country in the world. The vast majority of cases involved only domestic litigants - an indication, he said, that Chinese companies recognise that patent rights are valuable and are worth protecting. Those foreign companies that do find themselves before the Chinese courts end up coming out on top around90% of the time. That compares to a success rate of under 40% for foreign companies litigating in the United States.