Monday, 29 September 2014
CIPA meets the EPO
26 September 2014
We meet with a nice man from the EPO, whose job it is to listen to the whinges of European patent attorneys across the EPC states and tell them how much the EPO cares, and then presumably to go home to the EPO and tell them to get their fingers out.
Mostly we discuss handwritten amendments. These are a tried and tested way of showing someone how rubbish your original claim drafting was and what you would please like to get away with instead. The EPO keep asking us to do this exercise using a Word® file, a USB stick and an EPO printer.
Excuse me, but have you ever tried to use someone else’s IT system when you’re stressed?? IT systems can sense stress a mile off. They positively flicker with glee at its approach. They refuse to acknowledge your memory stick, download some corrupting influences onto it anyway, reconfigure themselves and then print pages 3-6, top halves only, to someone else’s printer. Then they ask if you would like them to diagnose their connection problems, which sounds a little too intimate for me, and which they cannot do anyway and everybody knows that because the diagnosis procedure involves nothing more than a suite of dialog boxes with crosses all over them. And not once do they apologise.
I speak as someone who cannot even get a sandwich through a self-service checkout.
So anyway, the nice man from the EPO says there, there, you can file amendments by hand anyway and convert them into computer gobbledygook later. We will give you two months in which to argue with your own memory sticks and LEAVE OUR PRINTERS ALONE AND STOP KICKING THEM.
He also tells us there, there, we understand your problems with deposit accounts. Which is nice. And your problems with the evils of optical character recognition, which works even less well than the sandwich recognition systems in the bagging areas of my favourite other pieces of technology.
As for backlogs and delays, he has some wonderful news for us. The EPO have introduced a scheme for prioritising their workflow, so that when an examiner comes in from his third cup of coffee mid-morning and settles down to a little bit of light examining before lunch, he knows which files to open first. His tasks are prioritised thus:
Priority 1 = sorry, but you really do have to do this.
Priorities 2, 3 & 4 = have another coffee break.
The genius in this scheme is that every now and then, everything from categories 2, 3 and 4 gets pushed into category 1 and you have to do it anyway. It is so brilliantly simple that I wonder why no-one at the EPO has thought of it before. But I suspect the examiners are not going to be pleased when they realise what's happened.