02.19.15

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EPO Staff Protests Against Benoît Battistelli’s Lowering of Patents Quality (Scope Expansion and Software Patents for Profit)

Posted in Europe, Patents at 10:10 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The UK-IPO’s controversial stance on software patents won’t help the EPO, either

Royal Wedding reception British Consulate-General Munich
Source: Royal Wedding reception British Consulate-General Munich

Summary: A protest in Munich in less than 6 days will target Mr. Sean Dennehey, who has helped Battistelli cover up his abuses and crush legitimate critics, whom he deemed illegal opposition as if the EPO is an authoritarian regime as opposed to a public service which taxpayers are reluctantly (but forcibly) funding

A LOT is happening at the EPO today, or put another way, a lot is happening to EPO management today. The management must be scared. It’s used to scaring the staff (reign of terror), but these roles have been inevitably reversed. It’s a sort of “blowback”. EPO management is being taken to court (so that it cannot gag staff anymore) and earlier today we published our longest article (yet) about the Vice-President of the EPO, shedding light on why some people want him imprisoned.

“The management must be scared.”Now comes this report from Germany about an imminent protest in Germany, targeting the British Consulate as it did the Danish Consulate in Munich. To quote the first report we have found about this:

Since December, I’ve been following the labor and human rights conflict at the European Patent Office and the debate over judicial independence. I’m less concerned about particular people holding certain positions (TechRights’ Dr. Roy Schestowitz covers those issues in detail) than fundamental, structural deficiencies that have allowed judicial independence at the EPO to wither. And when patent examiners warn that patent quality is in jeopardy, I tend to listen carefully.

The Staff Union of the European Patent Office (SUEPO) has announced another demonstration. It will take place in Munich next Wednesday. EPO staff will march to the British consulate (on January 24 they went to the Danish consulate) and hope to meet the British Consul-General in Munich. It makes sense that SUEPO talks to the national governments that are ultimately responsible for what’s going on at the EPO. The British government has also just received a letter from the UK’s Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys (CIPA) that IPKat reported on. That’s definitely an awareness-raiser.

[...]

I have the impression that the EPO staff is genuinely concerned about patent quality. It appears to me that these people really want to be able to do a good job (that they can be proud of), and their perspective on their job is that they have to serve the public interest by rejecting bad patent applications. I’m not saying that this is the only reason they oppose Mr. Battistelli’s reform agenda, but at the very least it’s a significant and credible part of the consideration, not just a pretext.

It sure sounds like EPO staff is opposing software patents in Europe because Battistelli does not care about quality of patents, only about money. The document published at Google’s Blogspot and Scribd states the following:

Ortssektion München . Local Section Munich . Section locale de Munich

12.02.2015

su15009mp – 0.2.1/0.3.2/0.2.2

NEXT DEMONSTRATION WEDNESDAY 25 FEBRUARY 2015

How many patents does Europe need?

At the beginning of 2015, staff of the EPO is faced with demands for massive increases in production (up to 20%) at the same time as a further worsening of their working conditions. The EPO receives some 150.000 patent applications a year, of which roughly one-third (35 %) come from the EPO member states and two-thirds (65 %) from outside Europe1. Despite the EPO’s very healthy financial situation2, Mr Battistelli’s main policy aim for the Office seems to be to make it more “efficient”. According to staff, efficiency is not an aim by itself: it is subordinated to the Office’s duty, as a public service, to examine patent applications thoroughly and to refuse any “bad” patents that would otherwise be a nuisance, in particular for the many European small and medium-sized enterprises that cannot afford expensive litigation. Mr Battistelli’s single-minded focus on “efficiency” and cost cutting is not in the interest of Europe!

March to the Danish consulate
On 24 January 2015 some 1000 colleagues braved the freezing cold for a demonstration in front of the Danish consulate in Munich. Staff reproaches the EPO’s Administrative Council headed by Mr Kongstad, a Dane, for its failure to exercise due oversight over the President of the EPO, its failure to fulfill its duty of care towards EPO staff by allowing unacceptable employment law to be imposed on staff, and its lack of transparency towards the EPO’s users and the general public. More information here 3.

The demonstration was reported in the Danish press. The Danish newspaper “Jyllands-Posten” published a rather critical article4 of 3 pages entitled “Raging war at the EPO”. An English translation can be found by scrolling through the document.

Wednesday 25 February 2015 – March to the British consulate
The next demonstration will be aimed at the British consulate. Mr Sean Dennehey5 (UK), member of the British delegation, is a major player in the Administrative Council. He was also recently re-elected6 chairman of the Patent Law Committee for a three-year term, starting on 30 March 2014. Like Mr Kongstad, Mr Dennehey is member of the “Board 28”,

________________________
1 http://www.epo.org/about-us/annual-reports-statistics/statistics/filings.html
2 In 2013 and 2014, the EPO had an operating surplus of over 300 million Euros.
3 http://munich.suepo.org/archive/su15006mp.pdf
4 http://www.suepo.org/public/ex15056cp.pdf
5 Biography of Mr Sean Dennehey: https://www.gov.uk/government/people/sean-dennehey
6 139th meeting of the AC: http://www.epo.org/news-issues/news/2014/20140328.html


the ultra-secretive think-tank of the Administrative Council. The Board 28 met this week to discuss and probably decide upon the future of DG3.7 Mr Dennehey actively supports and defends the reforms of Mr Battistelli, which increasingly deny EPO staff fundamental rights that are taken for granted by all other European citizens. Mr Dennehey also supports the Office in trying to suppress8 public discussion about the suspension of a Member of the Boards of Appeal while leaving space for Mr Battistelli to express his view of the events behind closed doors.

We wish to alert the British government to the problems in the EPO and the role played by the British delegation. We hope to be able to meet the British Consul-General, Paul Richard Heardman, to ask for his support.

What are our claims?

As with the previous march, we claim9 for

  • Rule of Law,
  • Freedom of Association and
  • Honest Negotiation of our work package.

But we do not forget the mission of the EPO as a public service created for the benefit of the citizens of Europe. That is why we continue to defend

  • quality in search and examination as well as
  • more transparency in the governance of the EPO.

The demonstration will start in front of the Isar building on Wednesday 25 February at 12.10h. We expect to arrive at the British consulate (Möhlstraße 5) at 13.15h.

We invite all staff to participate.

SUEPO Munich

“Mr Battistelli made it clear that, in his view, action is now expected and that academic models and debates, however interesting, are not enough to answer the priorities expressed by the Council. Ms Brimelow called for a measured approach in matters that are by essence of deep and long-term relevance.” [...]

“Both Mr Battistelli and Mr Kongstad stressed that the March Council conclusions were clear enough to enable the rapid development of proposals. Priority on increased output should be the leading consideration. It is no longer time for consultation, but rather for action and a real sense of urgency should prevail.”

Board 28 meeting of 6 May 2009 (B28/8/9)

________________________
7 139th meeting of the AC: http://www.epo.org/news issues/news/2014/20140328.html
8 http://www.cipa.org.uk/pages/whatsnew/article?B3DF31C2-BF7B-4885-831F-B4832AB5C690
9 What does EPO staff want? http://www.suepo.org/public/su14286cp.pdf

I will be in Singapore when the protest takes place, so sadly enough Techrights won’t be able to cover these protests until some time next month. We are sure that some British press will give it a good mention, accessible to English-speaking audiences all around the world. The demise of Battistelli’s tyranny is hopefully near; it seems unavailable and imminent.

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