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Joint press release of Munich patent law firms

  • Grünecker Patent- und Rechtsanwälte PartG mbB
  • HOFFMANN EITLE | Patent- und Rechtsanwälte PartmbB
  • Maiwald Patentanwalts- und Rechtsanwaltsgesellschaft mbH
  • VOSSIUS & PARTNER Patentanwälte Rechtsanwälte mbB

Patent Protection in Danger

In an open letter to the European Patent Office (EPO), four major law firms from Munich criticized the present state of patent examinations and declared that the European patent is being endangered as a result of these issues. The letter argued that whilst quicker patent examinations may have improved productivity at the European Patent Office, it has come at the cost of a decrease in the quality of patents that are being granted. The four law firms, which manage tens of thousands of patents for their clients warned that the protection afforded by European patents that has long been trusted by inventors and companies could be in serious danger.

Munich, 14 June 2018: The four Munich-based law firms Grünecker, Hoffmann Eitle, Maiwald, and Vossius & Partner presented a united front in an open letter addressed to the management of the European Patent Office. The letter addresses six specific issues they have had in dealings with the Patent Office. In recent years, the EPO has primarily focused on accelerating examination proceedings. However, this often means that its patent examiners are no longer being given sufficient time to carry out an in-depth assessment of each submitted patent application. Inventors and companies that have come to rely on the European Patent Office’s reputation for thorough work and a high quality of the patents that are granted are now facing the threat of considerable legal and economic uncertainties. The four law firms acknowledged that although efficiency and economic viability were an important part of the procedures at the EPO, these factors should not take precedence over the primary task of ensuring reliable patent protection. The law firms called on the management at the European Patent Office to return to its core task and to enable a thorough and legally secure processing of patent applications. The law firms’ warning follows a petition signed by 924 examiners at the European Patent Office in March of this year which criticized the EPO’s latest internal directives.

Obvious Risks

The European Patent Office, which is predominantly financed by fees paid by patent applicants and has even recently earned large financial surpluses, is being criticized by the patent attorneys of the four major firms. They are calling for these funds to be used to restore the high quality for which the European Patent used to be known. Superficial analyses of patent applications are currently becoming common-place owing to the EPO’s one-sided focus on efficiency, which devalues the examination proceedings and the act of a patent being granted. Ultimately, this weakens the standing of patent protection. Inventors and companies depend on the Patent Office to secure their innovations in the best possible way, whereas the market is reliant on correct and thorough assessments of intellectual property rights as well as protection from so-called “patent thickets”. Consequently, any insecurity is detrimental to all involved parties. Overall, the patent attorneys concluded in their letter that: “From our perspective, the high surplus is rather an indication that the fees are too high and that a further, problematic increase of productivity is not appropriate.”

Further information

Click here to read the open letter to the European Patent Office

Press contact

Dr. Thorsten Bausch, Patentanwalt, European Patent Attorney
Hoffmann Eitle | Patent- und Rechtsanwälte PartmbB
Arabellastraße 30
81925 München
T +49 (0)89 92 40 90
tbausch@hoffmanneitle.com

Dr. Eva Ehlich, Partner, Patentanwältin, European Patent Attorney
Maiwald Patentanwalts- und Rechtsanwaltsgesellschaft mbH
Elisenhof, Elisenstraße 3
80335 München
T +49 (0)89 74 72 660
ehlich@maiwald.eu