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Peek Into European Patent Examining Cancelled 214

We were going to run European Patent Examiner John Savage's answers to 10 Slashdot questions today, but he emailed us this morning and asked us to pull them back because he was was in trouble over the interview. What he had to say was informative, non-controversial, and would not have hurt his employer's reputation at all, but we don't want John to lose his job or face disciplinary action on our account. Anyway, get ready for a slightly unusual Slashdot interview guest next week: Celeb chef and self-described "culinary cartographer" Alton Brown.
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Peek Into European Patent Examining Cancelled

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  • Not surprising (Score:5, Informative)

    by Pig Hogger ( 10379 ) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `reggoh.gip'> on Friday August 09, 2002 @11:56AM (#4039758) Journal
    I sent the /. URL to an EU patent examiner I know, and he answered back that the guy has lots of balls to do this, because he could get in lots of trouble for speaking publicly...

    He also said that the questions weren't very good either...

  • by gmcraff ( 61718 ) <gmcraff AT yahoo DOT com> on Friday August 09, 2002 @11:58AM (#4039770)
    A lot of big organizations, such as corporations, government agencies, etc, and those smaller agencies descended from them, tend to want tight control over the information going out.

    Not knowing anything about this situation in particular, but from my experience I'd say the trouble came about because the answers weren't gone over by their Public Affairs and Legal weenies before he sent them out.

    If they HAD been white-washed by Legal and PA, then something in the answers must have worried someone. Don't forget that anything that comes from someone associated with an organization is assumed "expert opinion" and "official policy" even if the first two statements in the matter directly refute those assumptions.

    Alternatively, someone's boss may have an excessively high cover-my-arse quotient and decided to play it by the safest method: Don't tell 'em nothin', and they won't have anythin' on yeh. We don't have a grand conspiracy here, just ordinary every day middle-management pucker factor.
  • by billbaggins ( 156118 ) on Friday August 09, 2002 @11:59AM (#4039775)
    ...most gov't agencies don't like it when someone who's not a Trained Professional Media Handler talks to the media while mentioning their standing as a gov't employee, Just In Case they say something that three years down the road is proved false or, worse yet, embarrassing. A better way to do it would be to have employees watch their tongues, but blanket policies are the way gov't orgs work, alas...

    (Speaking as a former gov't employee...)

  • by ltning ( 143862 ) <ltning&anduin,net> on Friday August 09, 2002 @12:06PM (#4039833) Homepage
    I'm also working at the EPO, as an external contractor. It is interesting to see that he has been forced to pull his interview, but there may be some good reasons for this. And probably none of them has anything to do with the questions per se.
    Imagine you working for a huuuuge company, say IBM, Microsoft, WorldCom ;) or any other company getting lots of media coverage. Imagine you, as 'just another worker' would start answering questions from the press and so on. No matter how much you would state that you do not represent them or their opinion etc. etc., try thinking how easy it is for a newspaper, website, radio station, etc. to simply edit those statements away.. Not only would you risk ending up having your statements treated as if they were 'authoritative', you would, with good reason, piss your boss off.
    One thing is to talk to your friends about the good and bad things happening at your job. An entirely different thing is to publically make statements about it when you really have NO authority to do so. If you are working for someone, you need to be able to trust your employer, AND your employer needs to be able to trust you.
    I could have said a lot of interesting things about how the EPO works, both positive and negative, but I won't do so in a public forum simply because it is not my job!
    If you want answers from the EPO, or any other company or organization, there are usually public relations departments or the like. They are not always too helpful, but that should always be the place to start. And I wouldn't be all too surprised if they would indeed agree to do an interview with the slashdot crowd. After all the EPO takes pride in saying it's an organization of scientists, fundamentally differently organized than the american patent office, and atleast some people in high places do identify with our kind.
  • Re:disappointed (Score:3, Informative)

    by sphealey ( 2855 ) on Friday August 09, 2002 @12:13PM (#4039893)
    I was very interested A) to see what questions would be allowed to be asked, and B)to hear what he had to say. I guess their methods for patent approval are patented and, therefore, cannot be discussed in an open forum.
    If you have ever dealt with the ISO, the ITU, or the EU regulatory bodies, you know that description isn't too far from the truth. North American regulatory bodies may well be captured by the regulated parties, but at least you as a citizen have some right-to-know and to participate. Europe perfers that these processes occur in a controlled environment.


  • by demaria ( 122790 ) on Friday August 09, 2002 @12:24PM (#4039968) Homepage
    read the 4 & 5 comments from here. [] That'll tell you.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 09, 2002 @12:36PM (#4040042)
    Well could an anonymous coward take the interview instead? since an anonymous coward is not a representitive of a company.

    Hi all,

    It's Anon Y. Mouscoward here. (My name is from the province of Niyusistad, BTW).

    Here are my answers:

    1. Yes
    2. No
    3. Yes
    4. Yes
    5. Every Tuesday
    6. No
    7. Yes
    8. Dental Floss
    9. No
    10. Larger coils

    Thank You.
  • Re:Super (Score:3, Informative)

    by JCCyC ( 179760 ) on Friday August 09, 2002 @02:01PM (#4040739) Journal
    Nice to know that informing and educating people about a legal process can put you in danger of losing your job.

    Danger? More like: this poor guy is doomed. His boss surely has him now branded as the guy who is friends to those hippie anarchists. Either they'll fire him in a few weeks on a made-up excuse or he'll be given such sucky assignments he'll want to quit (aka "The Freezer").

    On the other hand, if they fire him, he'll be able to speak out. Don't throw away that interview just yet.
  • by LeftOfCentre ( 539344 ) on Friday August 09, 2002 @10:49PM (#4043850)
    You don't seem very up-to-speed on the EU legal process. It's the council which has to pass laws, always, and it's made up of the government ministers from the member states.

The optimum committee has no members. -- Norman Augustine