EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

05.25.15

Süddeutsche Zeitung Says Talking Helps While EPO Management Back-stabs Other Side of the Table

Posted in Europe, Patents at 7:53 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Süddeutsche Zeitung headline

Summary: German media gives the impression that there is peace and harmony now that Benoît Battistelli and his circle of power speaks to staff, but nothing is said about simultaneous (albeit covert) attacks against that staff

NOW THAT the EPO hires private spies (waste of money) to intimidate its own staff it wants us to believe that it approaches reconciliation. That’s an insulting illusion. As Merpel put it the other day, “SUEPO, the Staff Union of the EPO, has announced (see news item of 21 May) that it understands that Control Risks (who describe themselves as “an independent, global risk consultancy specialising in helping organisations manage political, integrity and security risks in complex and hostile environments”) has been commissioned by the EPO to investigate staff members who are elected representatives of the Staff Committee and/or Staff Union. Merpel considers that this completely undermines any attempt at social dialogue, or moves towards union recognition. How are EPO employees to be expected to serve on the Central Staff Committee, or to represent the EPO unions, if at the same time they are to be harassed and investigated, apparently for performing this very service?”

Also, “in the meantime,” she wrote, “most of the reforms to which the EPO staff objected were being pushed through, and it began to appear as though, even if union recognition was achieved, it would be too late to achieve any of the modifications that were needed to the reforms.”

What kind of reform and negotiation is this? Benefit of the doubt given to Benoît Battistelli? Why? Control freak is what he is and there is hardly an effort to deny it, either. Is this going to be the legacy of the European Union? Autocrats who waste taxpayers’ money?

Around the same time of a report from the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung there was this Süddeutsche Zeitung article from a month ago [PDF]. It said “Talking Helps”, but helps who? So far it has mostly gagged EPO critics.

Here is the article in full:

Talking Helps

For months a massive dispute has been brewing at the European Patent Office. The staff regard their basic rights as being eroded by the President. Now the opposing camps have met for the first time.

Top executives at the Patent Office are starting to worry about its reputation – and the ability to do its job

By Katja Riedel

This week something almost impossible happened at the European Patent Office – or at least that’s the way it looked to the always well-informed bloggers on IPKat. This and similar Internet forums are where the people get together who are interested in intellectual property. And over the past few months the patent scene worldwide has been watching Munich with as much excitement as concern, and the darkened windows of the headquarters of the European Patent Office (EPO) on the bank of the River Isar. It is there, for all to see, that a dispute which is as bizarre as it is bitter has been brewing between parts of the staff, supported by the union Suepo, and the President, Benoît Battistelli.

This week something has happened which even Battistelli’s most trusted lieutenants would hardly have thought feasible: It seems that a rapprochement is at least on the cards. On Wednesday the President, along with high ranking delegates from his supervisory body, the Administrative Council, met with union representatives. The Danish Chairman of the Administrative Council, Jesper Kongstad, was there, together with the German and Croatian EPO Vice-Presidents, and representatives from the unions Suepo and FFPE. The aim was to re-establish social harmony, on the Isar and in the entire international organization, with its well on 7000 staff members. This is regarded as having absolute priority for the entire organization, according to the Administrative Council.

What sounds like something obvious has up now been unthinkable. The unions and the President weren’t even getting close – they were worlds apart. Step by step, Battistelli has been implementing a major programme of reform. He wants to streamline the Office, which is actually said to be the most expensive in the world, and that means doing away with some of the perks. For example, he has changed the promotion system to a more rigid performance-related points system. Staff at the European Patent Office actually earn an average of 7600 Euro, their income is not subject to tax, their children attend an international school free of charge, and there are a lot of other benefits as well. But they are also highly specialized scientists. And they emphasize that the issue is not one of money, but of basic rights, which in the world of the EPO, with its own set of rules, do not apply, but under German labour law and that of most of the 38 individual states which are represented at the EPO are a matter of course. The right to unionize, for example. Or, if someone falls ill, not having to have an unannounced visit from a company doctor at their home. A court at The Hague, one of the EPO locations, even recently ruled that the Office was infringing basic human rights. This is a criticism which Battistelli has rejected in a public bulletin: “There is a strange rumour going around in Europe, in media, political circles, and even at national courts: That we infringe basic rights. What an accusation!”

For a long time the representative of the Member States have let the President have a free hand, among other reasons because at its heart they were in favour of the reform. The Office is preparing for the introduction of the European Unitary Patent, which will make Munich one of the most important places in the world when it comes to intellectual property. It will also be the seat of an outpost of the European Patent Court, which will decide on the fate of billions of Euros. Top ranking EPO representatives have recently become extremely concerned that the tumult surrounding Battistelli is damaging the reputation of the Office, and is taking up too much of the effort which is needed for bringing about the reforms at the EPO. And even the patent examiners, highly specialized scientists, are saying that they are concerned – about the quality of the patents. In future, more patents will have to be given the once-over, less critically, so as to be able to hold their own in worldwide competition with glittering statistics and high earnings from fees.

At the most recent meeting of the Administrative Council at the end of March, Battistelli’s back-covering finally gave way, even on the part of the German delegation. The inner circle closeted itself with Battistelli, and made it penetratingly clear to him that he needed to give up the confrontation approach, and take a step in the direction of the staff, in the interests of his own reform programme, which he is aiming to complete by the end of his term of office in 2018.

For four hours they sat together on Wednesday, and word had it afterwards from the people concerned that there were no harsh words or emotional outbursts at all. And that says a lot,
after a year with 22 days of strikes, with demonstrations at consulates on the one hand and threats of disciplinary procedures and measures against personnel who were too loud in their criticism on the other. A working group has been set up. The top-ranking gathering will reconvene at the end of May. “It wasn’t an easy meeting, but actually sitting at the same table was an important first step, and the beginning of a constructive process”, said the Chairman of the Administrative Council Kongstad, in a joint communiqué with Battistelli. The President too praised the open atmosphere. Suepo did express regret that the question of a fixed role of the unions in the EPO regulatory procedure appeared to be the sole specific point of negotiation. There was the feeling, however, that the delegates from the Administrative Council had at least understood the views of the employees. Caption:

Strike: In the past few months, the staff have repeatedly been making their voices heard at the consulates of the Member States in Munich

The EPO’s management is no negotiations partner until or unless it stops intimidating the staff of the EPO. This ought to be clear to anyone who has watched what Battistelli has done over the past couple of years.

“The European Patent Office is a Corrupt, Malicious Organisation Which Should Not Exist”

Richard Stallman

Share this post: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • co.mments
  • DZone
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • NewsVine
  • Print
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Facebook

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

What Else is New


  1. Unified Patents Says That RPX, Which Might Soon be Owned by Patent Trolls, Paid Patent Trolls Hundreds of Millions of Dollars

    Unified Patents, which helps crush software patents, takes note of RPX’s financial statements, which reveal the great extent to which RPX actually helped trolls rather than stop them



  2. IAM Together With Its Partner, IIPCC, is Lobbying the USPTO to Crush PTAB and Restore Patent Chaos

    Having handled over 8,000 petitions (according to Professor Lemley's Lex Machina), PTAB champions patent quality at the USPTO, so front groups of the litigation 'industry' creep in and attempt to lobby the likely next Director of the USPTO (inciting him against PTAB, as usual)



  3. Software Patents Are Still Dropping Like Flies in 2018, Thanks to Alice v CLS Bank (SCOTUS, 2014) and Section 101 (USPTO)

    Section 101 (§ 101) is thriving in the sense that it belatedly throws thousands of patents -- and frivolous lawsuits that depend on them -- down the chute; the patent trolls and their allies in the patent microcosm are very furious and they blame PTAB for actually doing its job (enforcing Section 101 when petitioned to do so)



  4. Patent Troll Finjan Looks Like It's About to Collapse, But Patent Maximalists Exploit It for Software Patents Promotion

    Patent trolls are struggling in their use of software patents; few (if any) of their patents are upheld as valid and those that miraculously remain in tact become the subject of fascination if not obsession among trolls' advocates



  5. The Attacks on PTAB Are Slowing Down and Attempts to Shield Oneself From Inter Partes Reviews (IPRs) Are Failing

    The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) reapplies patent eligibility tests/guidelines in order to squash likely invalid patents; The litigation 'industry' is not happy about it, but its opposition to PTAB is also losing steam



  6. Links 21/1/2018: Wine 3.0 Coverage, KaOS 2018.01, Red Hat Among 'Admired Companies'

    Links for the day



  7. Blockchain Patents Are a Catastrophe in the Making as Trolls and Aggressors Accumulate Them

    As patents pertaining to blockchains continue to be granted -- even in defiance of Alice/Section 101 -- it seems likely that patent wars will sooner or later erupt, involving some large banks, IBM, and patent trolls associated with the notorious Erich Spangenberg



  8. Qualcomm/Broadcom/NXP Combination Would Become a Disastrous Patent Thicket Which Benefits Nobody

    Worried by the prospect of mega-mergers and takeovers which would put far too much market power (and monopoly through patents) in one place, governments and corporations speak out



  9. Patent Litigation in East Asia: Huawei, Samsung, HTC, Nintendo and COLOPL

    A quick look at some high-profile cases in which large Asian firms are embroiled; it seems clear that litigation activities have shifted eastwards (where actual production is done)



  10. Patent Litigation in the US is Down Sharply and Patent Trolls' Demise Has Much to Do With It

    Docket Navigator and Lex Machina both show a significant decline in litigation -- a trend which is likely to carry on now that TC Heartland is in tact (not for just half a year but a whole year) and PTAB completes another record year



  11. Cheating the US Patent System is a Lot Harder After TC Heartland

    Some new examples of tricks (and sometimes cheats) attempted by patent claimants and their representatives; it does not go as well as they hoped



  12. RPX Might Soon be Owned by Patent Troll Erich Spangenberg

    RPX, whose top executives are leaving and business is gradually dying, might end up as another 'asset' of patent trolls



  13. Patent Quality (Not Numbers) as an Asset: Oppositions, Appeals and Rejections at the EPO

    Benoît Battistelli wants a rubber-stamping operation (like INPI) rather than a functional patent office, but oppositions at the Office prove to be fruitful and many erroneously-granted patents are -- by extrapolation -- already being revoked (affecting, in retrospect, Battistelli's so-called 'results')



  14. Links 19/1/2018: Linux Journalism Fund, Grsecurity is SLAPPing Again

    Links for the day



  15. The EPO Ignores This Week's Decision Which Demonstrates Patent Scope Gone Awry; Software Patents Brought Up Again

    The worrisome growth of European Patents (EPs) — a 40% jump in one year in spite of decline in the number of patent applications — is a symptom of the poor judgment, induced largely by bad policies that impede examiners’ activities for the sake of so-called ‘production’; this week's decision regarding CRISPR is another wake-up call and software patents too need to be abolished (as a whole), in lieu with the European Patent Convention (EPC)



  16. WesternGeco v ION Geophysical (at the US Supreme Court) Won't Affect Patent Scope

    As WesternGeco v ION Geophysical is the main if not sole ‘major’ patent case that the US Supreme Court will deal with, it seems safe to say that nothing substantial will change for patent scope in the United States this year



  17. Links 18/1/2018: MenuLibre 2.1.4, Git 2.16 Released

    Links for the day



  18. Microsoft, Masking/Hiding Itself Behind Patent Trolls, is Still Engaging in Patent Extortion

    A review of Microsoft's ugly tactics, which involve coercion and extortion (for businesses to move to Azure and/or for OEMs to preload Microsoft software) while Microsoft-connected patent trolls help hide the "enforcement" element in this whole racket



  19. Patent Prosecution Highway: Low-Quality Patents for High-Frequency Patent Aggressors

    The EPO's race to the bottom of patent quality, combined with a "need for speed", is a recipe for disaster (except for litigation firms, patent bullies, and patent trolls)



  20. Press Coverage About the EPO Board Revoking Broad's CRISPR Patent

    Even though there's some decent coverage about yesterday's decision (e.g. from The Scientist), the patent microcosm googlebombs the news with stuff that serves to distract from or distort the outcome



  21. Links 17/1/2018: HHVM 3.24, WordPress 4.9.2

    Links for the day



  22. No Patents on Life (CRISPR), Said EPO Boards of Appeal Just a Few Hours Ago

    Broad spectacularly loses its key case, which may soon mean that any other patents on CRISPR too will be considered invalid



  23. Only Two Weeks on the Job, Judge Patrick Corcoran is Already Being Threatened by EPO Management

    The attack on a technical judge who is accused of relaying information many people had already relayed anyway (it was gossip at the whole Organisation for years) carries on as he is again being pushed around, just as many people predicted



  24. EPO Board of Appeal Has an Opportunity to Stop Controversial Patents on Life

    Patent maximalism at the EPO can be pushed aback slightly if the European appeal board decides to curtail CRISPR patents in a matter of days



  25. Links 16/1/2018: More on Barcelona, OSI at 20

    Links for the day



  26. 2018 Will be an Even Worse Year for Software Patents Because the US Supreme Court Shields Alice

    The latest picks (reviewed cases) of the Supreme Court of the United States signal another year with little or no hope for the software patents lobby; PTAB too is expected to endure after a record-breaking year, in which it invalidated a lot of software patents that had been erroneously granted



  27. Patent Trolls (Euphemised as “Public IP Companies”) Are Dying in the United States, But the Trouble Isn't Over

    The demise of various types of patent trolls, including publicly-traded trolls, is good news; but we take stock of the latest developments in order to better assess the remaining threat



  28. EPO Management and Team UPC Carry on Lying About Unified Patent Court, Sinking to New Lows in the Process

    At a loss for words over the loss of the Unitary Patent, Team UPC and Team Battistelli now blatantly lie and even get together with professional liars such as Watchtroll



  29. China Tightens Its Knot of Restrictive Rules and Patents

    Overzealous patent aggressors and patent trolls in China, in addition to an explosion in low-quality patents, may simply discourage companies from doing production/manufacturing there



  30. Microsoft's Patent Racket Has Just Been Broadened to Threaten GNU/Linux Users Who Don't Pay Microsoft 'Rents'

    Microsoft revisits its aggressive patent strategy which it failed to properly implement 12 years ago with Novell; it wants to 'collect' a patent tax on GNU/Linux and it uses patent trolls to make that easier


CoPilotCo

RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

CoPilotCo

Recent Posts