From 16 January 2006 to 12 April 2006, the European Commission carried out a public consultation on the future of patent policy. The preliminary findings of this consultation were been released on 5 July 2006. It appears that the Commission conducted a parallel consultation under the name of ‘SME panel’. The following website: http://www.eic.org.tr/Eng/duyuru_detay.aspx?ID=636 refers to a document transmitted by DG MARKT and DG ENTR to the network of European Info Centres (EIC) which says: ‘DG MARKT-D2 launched some weeks ago an online consultation on patent systems. Nevertheless, taking into account the subject's complexity and the difficulties faced in obtaining answers directly from SMEs, DG MARKT considered that the SME Panel tool would be very useful because it would support and complete the results already obtained in the online consultation. […] The SMEs which are targeted with the questionnaire are: current patent holders, those who hold a patentable invention but who, for a particular reason have not sought the patent, SMEs who have been sued by patent holders for patent infringement, any other SMEs who have had to deal with the patent system’.
The public consultation was open to any SME without restricting criteria such as the ones mentioned above. Is it statistically exact to draw a graph where both sets of data are merged — as is the case in the table ‘Sectors of industry — Companies and industry associations’ replies' on page 6 of the preliminary findings?
Does the Commission think that it is statistically correct to process different answers that have been received in two separate consultations carried out under different preconditions? What was the motivation for drawing a second sample from ‘patent oriented’ SMEs in addition to the public consultation, and for subsequently merging these two results?
In Ireland at least one EIC received funds for that purpose (see http://www.eic.ie/ipm/smepanels.htm): ‘The Irish EIC Network has been given funding by the European Commission to run a series of SME Panels throughout Ireland to collect the views of SMEs on specific areas of EU policy’. What was the total budget for that project and which budget line was utilised?