07 March 2011

EPO President Battistelli Expects Plan B Upon Adverse ECJ Opinion And Believes "We Need to Help SMEs" But Others Should Reduce Costs

[EURO coins, permission: ECB/03/4 /5]
As reported earlier on this blog, the latest version of the "Draft Agreement on the European and Community Patents Court" [Doc. 7928/09] is subject to an opinion by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) on the compatibility of the envisaged Agreement with the EU Treaty [Doc 9076/09].

Meanwhile, the European Court of Justice announces the opinion on the "Draft Agreement" (case Avis 1/09) to be published

Tomorrow (08 March 2011).

The supporters appear not too enthusiastic about the opinion, since the oral hearing of May 2010 (official report) disclosed doubts on the compatible of the Draft Agreement with the EU Treaty and EU law (see e.g. here). Later, the Advocates General's (non-binding) Statement of Position raised further essential objections (see e.g. here).

In either case, tomorrow's ECJ opinion will be decisive for both the Unified Patent Court and the EU Patent.

So it's good that we receive some encouragement and optimism in the night before the decision from this piece of Joff Wild's well-informed IAM blog, reporting on an interview with EPO President Benoît Battistelli, who, inter alia, commented on the upcoming ECJ decision:
"[Battistelli] continued, a negative ruling from the court on Tuesday does not have to throw everything up in the air. “It is possible to work on a transitional basis while waiting for member states to create a scheme that is compatible with treaties and rules. Solutions can be found,” Battistelli claimed [and refrained from commenting on this believe any further].
In a conspirative mood, Joff Wild couldn't "help wondering whether member states and the Commission have been thinking in detail about the consequences of an adverse ruling this week and may very quickly come up with some stop-gap remedies". We certainly will witness some creative but tense political moves by stakeholders, upon a negative opinion tomorrow.

Further observations of Mr Battistelli were even more meaningful:
"We need to help SMEs use the EPO and we must reduce the cost of doing so [...] and that’s why I am in favour of the EU patent,” he told me. [...] Battistelli said that he does not believe there should be any change in the overall level of EPO fees. [...] If any increases were needed, he said, they should come from renewals and not from applications.
That's great stuff! A truly self-confident statement of a "world player's" political President, considering his office "important for the world economy".

With a decent dose of willingness to misunderstand the President, one may conclude that Mr Battistelli has some unconventional interpretation of the term "we" in "we must help" and "we must reduce".

Now that it's my turn to be in conspirative mood, Mr Battistelli appears to expect the European Union and its Members to acquire all those nice SME patent applications for the EPO by implementing the required legal framework and somehow reducing the costs of patenting without touching the EPO's fees. Even better, in the compelling believe that "we need to help SME's", the EPO President is even prepared to only increase annuities if more money is needed.

That's really good news for Europe's economy, especially in the light of the fact that some consider the impressive cost savings promised by the European Commission questionable anyway.