June 24, 2019

European Patent Office censors Spanish contributions to its 2023 public consultation

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PRESS RELEASE — [ Europe / Spain / Patent / Democracy / Censorship / Economy ]

Madrid, 24 June 2019 – The European Patent Office (EPO) has censored contributions to its public consultation ‘EPO2023’ from spanish companies and citizens. The EPO wanted input from the public on how they could “improve” themselves, but failed to be inclusive.

Seven contributions were refused on the basis that the EPO only accept contributions from the public only in its official three languages (English, German, French). Apparently, other contributions in Dutch were also censored.

The first form was already biased as the EPO considered all companies to be “patent applicants”, so a normal company interested in to participate had to tick the option “other” instead of “company”.

The EPO2023 plan also aims to spread its harmful practice to grant software patents to other parts of the globe, under lobbying of the other patent offices (IP5) of China, Japan, South Korea, and the United States.

Benjamin Henrion, President of FFII: “Apparently not all stakeholders were welcomed to participate, because they speak a different but European language. No matter if as worldwide widely used languages as Spanish, Italian or Portuguese. This is a failure.”

He continues: “With the coming Unitary Patent, the EPO is doing a partnership with Google to get rid of Spanish as a legally binding language for patents. The EPO and its member states must comply with the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), which prohibits discrimination of languages.”

He remembers the opposition at the EPO: “When FFII Spain opposed the Amazon one-click patent 10 years ago, they were denied an official live translation to Spanish, while others were provided a live translation to German. The EPO said they could pay for it if they wanted one.”

Other public groups, such as “No Patents on Seeds” were heavily criticizing the EPO structure in their submission: “While the stakeholders participating at the Administrative Council meetings such as BUSINESS-EUROPE or EPI are heavily weighted in favour of vested interests in obtaining patents, other civil society organisations are not represented at all. As a consequence, the European Patent Organisation has to be seen as an institution designed to just push for patents to satisfy particular vested economic interests; there are no independent controls in place, nor any participation from broader public in the relevant meetings. Consequently, the EPO is driven largely by its own budgetary interests and its affiliated patent industry.”

Henrion finishes: “If citizens and companies of Europe cannot have access to the EPO, we must get rid of it!”.

Links

Contact

Alberto Barrionuevo, FFII Spain, alberto.barrionuevo at opentia.es, +34 918 38 38 58

Benjamin Henrion, FFII Brussels, bhenrion at ffii.org, +32 484 566109

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