M. Névant (FR), Editorial CommitteeM. Névant (FR), Editorial Committee

Anybody home?

In the 1985 cult movie “Back to the future”, the villain Biff Tannen repeatedly knocks on the head of George McFly (father of the movie’s hero, Marty McFly) while saying the famous quote “Hello, hello. Anybody home? Think McFly, think!”

In a previous editorial (see issue 3/21 of epi Information) I worried that the time was long gone when representatives of the Member States on the Administrative Council (AC) of the European Patent Organisation had some interest in patent matters. It is quite obvious that what is good for the users of the patent system in Europe is no longer at the centre of discussion during meetings of the AC. It rather seems, viewed from the outside, that a substantial amount of time is spent on financial matters, which is in my view a sad state of affairs. It does not seem therefore that there is anybody home in the AC trying to foster the patent system in Europe.

Of further and greater concern is whether there is still anybody home at the EPO. Decisions are more and more often made without hearing what users, and in particular epi members and their representative bodies, have to say. Pseudo consultations are organised to give a semblance of moral approval to decisions already taken. The most recent example is the decision concerning the format of oral proceedings in examination and oppositionThe point here is not to discuss whether VICO is good or not, but to question the methodology used.The EPO press release dated 15 November 2022 explains that the survey conducted during the autumn (on whether VICO is good or not) gathered responses from almost 400 users. Bearing in mind that there are currently roughly 14,000 epi members (+ hundreds of in-house patent counsels), I really wonder how such a small sample size can be said to be representative of the profession.

On these thoughts, I sincerely wish all our readers, on behalf of the Editorial Committee, a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.