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Alison Brimelow will not seek reappointment as President of the European Patent Office when her current term expires at the end of June 2010, it was announced today. Rainer Osterwalder, Director of Media Relations at the EPO, told IAM this afternoon: "Yes, I can confirm that Alison Brimelow has informed the EPO staff today that she will not seek an extension of her contract which ends on 30 June 2010."
Brimelow became President of the EPO in July 2007. She succeed Frenchman Alain Pompidou who assumed office in 2004. Pompidou and Brimelow have shared the current six-year term of the EPO presidency after member states of the European Patent Organisation were unable to decide which of them should succeed the German Ingo Kober who had held the Presidency since January 1996.
Member states will now face a difficult task in selecting a new President. The individual chosen will inherit the job at a delicate time, when the EPO is seeking to "raise the bar" in terms of the quality of the patent applications it receives - something that has the potential to bring it into conflict with its user community. There is also a growing backlog to deal with and the fallout from the global downturn to confront. Internally, the EPO is struggling with a financial deficit; and there is an ongoing dispute with SUEPO, one of the unions representing office staff, which shows no signs of going away. Whoever gets the job will have a big task on their hands.
Last week at the European Patent Forum in Prague there were rumours that the French were not keen on Brimelow serving more years in charge at the office than had their man Pompidou. That sounded ridiculous at the time, so I did not report it. However, maybe I was wrong. It could be that Brimelow has decided that she can no longer be bothered with all the politics that come with her job.
IP politics, Patents
Where can we propose candidates to replace her?Benjamin Henrion, FFII on 07 May 2009 @ 12:47
You can't. See Art. 11(1) EPC.Alan Benfield, European Patent Office on 07 May 2009 @ 13:42
To be fair, the double point to examiners is to reward them for more work (a refusal costs more energy than a grant), rather than "motivating" them to refuse. Where does that daft idea come from?Ina van Dorst-Abbink, European Patent Office on 12 May 2009 @ 09:40
"A specific issue is that fledgling companies with limited budgets need to protect innovation with applications which may have multiple related inventions, to divide them later when the application is clearer and funds allow"
Well, sorry, but Art. 82 EPC says they shouldn't do that and you can't blame Alison for that one, as it originated in 1973. Rule 42(1)(c) also requires that the application "disclose the invention, as claimed, in such terms that the technical problem, even if not expressly stated as such, and its solution can be understood, and state any advantageous effects of the invention with reference to the background art;". If the application concerns multiple inventions, a separate statement would need to be made for each, or it would need to be clear from the description what problem each invention solved. What more often happens, however, is that an application is filed in which the 'statement of invention' is just a recital of the claims and it is not clear what, if any, problems and solutions exist and how they relate to the prior art. This leads to the situation where later, in a divisional application, an 'invention' is suddenly claimed for which there is no clear problem and solution as required by Rule 42(1)(c) and it is thus not possible to determine whether the requirements of Art. 56 are met, which is a fatal objection and cannot be remedied without violating Art. 123(2) EPC, which situation leads some of us here to wonder exactly what it is some attorneys do for a living.
The above is, of course, my own opinion. I do not speak in any official capacity on behalf of the EPO.Alan Benfield, European Patent Office on 17 Jun 2009 @ 14:15
Further to the comments on two points for a refusal: this measure was brought in largely because in order to refuse these days Oral Proceedings will need to be convened (because everyone automatically asks for OP, even if the case is hopeless). Not only is a refusal more work, but the OP and its preparation will involve both the primary and other members of the division in a considerable amount of work (and often the applicant fails to appear, anyway). Realising this, the Office decided a change was necessary. That the change was made in the same period as the talk of 'raising the bar' appeared is coincidental, I think. By the way, the second member and chairman still get no time credit for being involved in these procedures.Alan Benfield, European Patent Office on 17 Jun 2009 @ 14:25