Thursday, May 11, 2006

European patent examiners strike

"If we have to produce more, then patent quality will go down. We are already at the limits of working productivity," according to Wolfgang Manntz, the chair of the Berlin branch of the EPO staff union. Employees at the European Patent Office (EPO) in Munich and Berlin held a strike on May 9, 2006 against proposed changes to the patent examination process.

European patent examiners have raised the quality issue before. In a 2004 survey of 1,300 EPO patent examiners, three-quarters of staff claimed productivity demands from managers did not allow them "to enforce the quality standards set by the European Patent Convention".

Labor issues are also a concern with the USPTO. In the May 2006 issue of POPANews, the lead story was Patents Intern Program Boosts Flexibilities for Firing, Not Hiring, concerning the Federal Career Intern Program [FCIP]. Another first page story was about a study requested by Congressman Tom Davis on the USPTO system of hiring and employee retention.


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