Satisfaction (almost) guaranteed

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It’s not only important for attorneys and patent attorneys, but also for courts like the FPC:

Know your clients!

Towards this end, the FPC has asked all professional representatives (attorneys-at-law and patent attorneys) who had been involved in proceedings since 1 January 2017 to complete a written questionnaire. This was actually already the second user satisfaction survey: The first one covered the start-up phase of the FPC from January 2012 until about April 2017; see this Blog here.

The new results have been published yesterday; see below for the English and German versions of the official report. Based on 194 questionnaires, the return rate in 2021 was 38% (2017: 189 questionnaires; 48% return rate). 

Satisfaction
(loud!)

The good news up-front (spoiler alert): More than 90% of the users are «pleased» or «very pleased» with the overall quality of the services provided by the FPC. There may surely be businesses that boast of even greater customer satisfaction. But in adversarial court proceedings at least one party is unsatisfied with the judgment on the merits, in most of the cases. Against this background, an overall satisfaction rate of > 90% is really outstanding.

The overall satisfaction rate cannot readily be compared with the previous survey, simply because that question had not been asked back in the days. But let’s have a closer look at some of the current numbers, compared to the last survey back in 2017 where that is possible.

Representatives’ appreciation of the total duration of main proceedings is almost identical (overwhelmingly considered «appropriate»):

dyerware.com


 

Likewise, representatives’ appreciation of the time limits and time extension options in main proceedings is almost identical (overwhelmingly considered «appropriate», even slightly more than in 2017):

dyerware.com


 

However, representatives’ appreciation of the total duration of summary proceedings has changed considerably. The share of «appropriate» votes increased by about 16% (76%, compared to 60% in 2017); the «too long» and «long-ish» votes went down accordingly:

dyerware.com


 

Indeed, summary proceedings are relatively speedy proceedings, with typically only one exchange of briefs and tight case management. This is reflected by the representatives’ appreciation of the time limits and time extension options in summary proceedings. The share of «appropriate» votes increased by about 11% (83%, compared to 72% in 2017); the «too long» and «long-ish» votes are almost neglectable, while «too short» and «short-ish» votes are slightly on the rise:

dyerware.com


 

The FPC also inquired again, in general terms, whether its judgments are considered clear and comprehensible. It appears that the users’ satisfaction with the FPC’s reasoning in judgments has significantly increased; a much higher share of highest level «applies» votes were casted:

dyerware.com


 

Representatives were also asked whether oral proceedings by videoconference should be possible after the end of the Corona pandemic legislation, at least with the consent of both parties. That’s apparently a controversial issue; even though 49% of clear «applies» votes were casted, 38% of the votes were on the wider «does not apply» side of the spectrum:

dyerware.com


 

Further, a clear majority is against conducting oral proceedings by videoconference against the will of a party (76%).

Finally, the FPC wanted to know whether the time needed by the judge-rapporteur to deliver the expert opinion was considered appropriate or on the (too) long side. More than 90% consider the timeliness «appropriate» in summary proceedings. A majority of 61% held that timeliness is «appropriate» in main proceedings, too. Accordingly, about 38% would like to receive the expert-opinion earlier in main proceedings.

Reported by Martin WILMING

USER SATISFACTION SURVEY RESULTS

Official German version:

Official English version:

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Have your say on the EPO Guidelines. Now.

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The Guidelines for Examination in the EPO («EPC Guidelines») and the Guidelines for Search and Examination at the EPO as PCT Authority («PCT-EPO Guidelines») give instructions on the practice and procedure to be followed in the various aspects of proceedings at the EPO.

Note that «[a]s a general rule, parties may expect the EPO to act in accordance with the Guidelines […]» at least to the extent first instance proceedings are concerned; see General Remarks (fifth paragraph). Accordingly, one should not blame an individual examiner for any wrongdoing as long as he/she is acting in conformance with the Guidelines. Rather, the Guidelines should be amended accordingly.

But … how would you have your say on the Guidelines?!

Here is the deal

The EPO has launched a public consultation on its Guidelines and invites all interested parties to participate. Comments can be submitted via an online form in any of the three official languages of the EPO. The consultation runs until 15 April 2020.

vespa.swiss

VESPA, the Swiss association of Swiss and European patent attorneys in private practice, is planning a submission on behalf of its membership.

Towards this end, VESPA would greatly appreciate if you send your comments on the EPO Guidelines by 31 March 2020 by e-mail to martin.wilming@hepp.ch.

Please use the following forms which are based on the layout of the EPO’s input mask:

Let’s join forces in order to improve the Guidelines. Now.

Reported by Martin WILMING

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