Joff Wild reported on his blog (June 19) of an internal memo of the EPO (European Patent Office) reporting on the attitude of staff to the way in which the EPO is being run. Almost simultaneously, the head of legal affairs at the EPO stated that it is now too easy to obtain patents and there needs to be a shift towards fewer, but higher-quality, rights.
Joff wrote: “And to add a certain spice to the situation, as well as handing valuable ammunition to the EPO’s opponent’s, Wim Van der Eijk, Principal Director of the International Legal Affairs and Patent Law Department, was last week quoted as saying: “Patents are granted too easily … We need to have a more critical look, and steer policy in the direction of less, but stronger patents.” Now I don’t know in what context he was talking and if he was referring to the EPO or not, but it strikes me that at a time when the EPO is awarding more patents than it ever has before, this was not a particularly clever thing to say.”
Another view is possible. The criticism makes sense when one reads in the internal memo:
“There is a strong belief amongst staff that the financial benefits to the
Member States arising from the renewal fees motivate the Administrative
Council, and consequently the EPO administration, to focus on the quantity
rather than the quality of the granted patents.”