06.26.15

The Council of Europe Slams the EPO as Political Pressure Grows for EPO Management to Obey the Law

Posted in Europe, Patents at 8:35 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

An emergency

Summary: Battistelli et al. come under yet more fire as politicians — many of whom from Battistelli’s home country — become better informed of the EPO’s management fiasco, abuses, and scandals

We have just been sent a copy [PDF] of the written declaration sponsored by Pierre-Yves Le Borgn’ (mentioned here before) and signed by 82 members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. Rollbacks of fundamental rights at the European Patent Office are clearly not being tolerated. Here is the declaration as HTML:

Doc. 13836

25 June 2015

Rollback of fundamental rights at the European Patent Office

Written declaration No. 596

This written declaration commits only those who have signed it On 17 February 2015, the Hague Court of Appeal condemned the European Patent Office (EPO), arguing that its internal dispute settlement system led to a rollback of fundamental rights enshrined in the European Convention of Human Rights and the European Social Charter. The Court considered that the EPO could not invoke its immunity when a trade union is deprived of any means to challenge violations of the personnel’s rights, for want of any legal remedy before the International Labour Organisation Administrative Tribunal or via any other internal procedure.

An international organisation cannot become a place of lesser law, sheltered by its jurisdictional immunity. Restraining the right of association, reducing the right to go on strike, preventing the personnel from being entitled to collective bargaining, depriving all organisations from any effective remedy and failing to carry out a court decision are all unacceptable developments. We call on the 38 member States of the EPO, all members of the Council of Europe, to bring this situation to an end and urge the EPO’s management to comply with the decision of the Hague Court of Appeal.

Signed (see overleaf)


Doc. 13836 Written declaration

Signed1:

LE BORGN’ Pierre-Yves, France, SOC
AGRAMUNT Pedro, Spain, EPP/CD
ALAVEZ RUIZ Aleida, Mexico
ALLAIN Brigitte, France, SOC
ANDERSON Donald, United Kingdom, SOC
ANDREOLI Paride, San Marino, SOC
BARILARO Christian, Monaco, ALDE
BENTON Joe, United Kingdom, SOC
BIES Philippe, France, SOC
BİLGEHAN Gülsün, Turkey, SOC
BLONDIN Maryvonne, France, SOC
BOCKEL Jean-Marie, France, EPP/CD
BONET PEROT Sílvia Eloïsa, Andorra, SOC
CANTU SEGOVIA Eloy, Mexico
CHAOUKI Khalid, Italy, SOC
CHRISTOFFERSEN Lise, Norway, SOC
CILEVIČS Boriss, Latvia, SOC
CORSINI Paolo, Italy, SOC
CROZON Pascale, France, SOC
DAVIES Geraint, United Kingdom, SOC
DÍAZ TEJERA Arcadio, Spain, SOC
DOKLE Namik, Albania, SOC
DURRIEU Josette, France, SOC
FLEGO Gvozden Srećko, Croatia, SOC
FLYNN Paul, United Kingdom, SOC
FOURNIER Bernard, France, EPP/CD
FRESKO-ROLFO Béatrice, Monaco, EPP/CD
GABÁNIOVÁ Darina, Slovak Republic, SOC
GIOVAGNOLI Gerardo, San Marino, SOC
GOSSELIN-FLEURY Geneviève, France, SOC
GROSS Andreas, Switzerland, SOC
GUNNARSSON Jonas, Sweden, SOC
GUTIÉRREZ Antonio, Spain, SOC
GUZENINA Maria, Finland, SOC
HAGEBAKKEN Tore, Norway, SOC
HAIDER Monica, Sweden, SOC
HARANGOZÓ Gábor, Hungary, SOC
HEINRICH Gabriela, Germany, SOC
IORDACHE Florin, Romania, SOC
IWIŃSKI Tadeusz, Poland, SOC
JANSSON Eva-Lena, Sweden, SOC
JURATOVIC Josip, Germany, SOC
KARLSSON Niklas, Sweden, SOC
KOX Tiny, Netherlands, UEL
LE DÉAUT Jean-Yves, France, SOC
LESKAJ Valentina, Albania, SOC
LONCLE François, France, SOC
LUND Jacob, Denmark, SOC
MAHOUX Philippe, Belgium, SOC
MAIJ Marit, Netherlands, SOC
MARKOVIĆ Milica, Bosnia and Herzegovina, SOC
MARTINEL Martine, France, SOC

_________
1.
SOC: Socialist Group
EPP/CD: Group of the European People’s Party
ALDE: Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe
EC: European Conservatives Group
UEL: Group of the Unified European Left
NR: Representatives not belonging to a Political Group


Doc. 13836 Written declaration

MAURY PASQUIER Liliane, Switzerland, SOC
MEALE Alan, United Kingdom, SOC
MESTERHÁZY Attila, Hungary, SOC
MULIĆ Melita, Croatia, SOC
NACHTMANNOVÁ Oľga, Slovak Republic, SOC
NEGUTA Andrei, Republic of Moldova, SOC
NICOLETTI Michele, Italy, SOC
OBRADOVIĆ Žarko, Serbia, SOC
OHLSSON Carina, Sweden, SOC
PÂSLARU Florin Costin, Romania, SOC
PETRÁK Ľubomir, Slovak Republic, SOC
QUÉRÉ Catherine, France, SOC
RAWERT Mechthild, Germany, SOC
ROCHEBLOINE François, France, EPP/CD
RODRÍGUEZ Soraya, Spain, SOC
ROSEIRA Maria de Belém, Portugal, SOC
ROUQUET René, France, SOC
SÁEZ Àlex, Spain, SOC
SCHENNACH Stefan, Austria, SOC
SCHMIDT Frithjof, Germany, SOC
SCHWABE Frank, Germany, SOC
SEKULIĆ Predrag, Montenegro, SOC
SIMENSEN Kåre, Norway, SOC
STRIK Tineke, Netherlands, SOC
SUTTER Petra, De, Belgium, SOC
TAKTAKISHVILI Chiora, Georgia, ALDE
TOMLINSON John E., United Kingdom, SOC
VĖSAITĖ Birutė, Lithuania, SOC
VORUZ Eric, Switzerland, SOC
VRIES Klaas, de, Netherlands, SOC
VUČKOVIĆ Nataša, Serbia, SOC
XUCLÀ Jordi, Spain, ALDE

_____________________________
Total = 82

The latest item on IP Kat beat us to it. Merpel writes: “Altogether more than 100 parliamentarians from 32 countries have now expressed their anxieties and concerns regarding the persistent erosion of fundamental rights experienced by EPO staff over the past year and a half at the hands of the current regime, which presumably still enjoys the substantial support of the Administrative Council which has notional control of the organisation.”

Merpel also found this political intervention in the European Parliament:

The European Patent Office (EPO) was set up forty years ago. It currently employs about seven thousand highly qualified people, most of whom work at its offices in Germany (Munich) and the Netherlands (Ryswick). In 2014 alone, it received 274 000 patent applications from companies all over the world. Its budget of EUR 2 000 million makes it the second largest European institution after the Commission.

There have been a huge number of complaints about the EPO. Cases of staff suffering from depression (including four suicides since 2012), a climate of intimidation caused by the creation of an internal investigation unit, and restrictions on the right to strike have been reported by the trade union, SUEPO, which is now banned from EPO premises. Among other things, the union is complaining about management’s plan to lower the cost of registering patents at the price of employees’ health.

Is the Commission aware of this situation and what is being done to investigate it? Also, what are the grounds for the immunity granted to the European Patent Office, which allegedly derives from the fact that it is extraterritorial, thus making it impossible for any legal action to be taken to protect workers’ rights?

Over at IP Kat there are some interesting comments from what appears to be EPO staff. The first:

During this time in a Galaxy far away ….

The Administrative Council just extended for 3 years VP5 (Raimund Lutz) the man who finds everything perfectly legal (when national courts and parliamentaries don’t)…

AND

VP1 (who will be 70 at the end of his mandate whereas max. pension age at EPO is 67….

AND

Battistelli starts his new mandate with secret salarial conditions …

AND

the AC did not bother to comment on the on-going spying on staff reps/unionists nor on public spying

All is fine in Eponia !!

Second comment speaks of betrayal:

Many years ago I gave a promise to the Office, and with it to the general public of Europe, that I would examine patents and only grant those with a high probability of validity as far as I could establish. In return for this the office made a promise to look after me. We had an agreement, which I considered to be binding. I have kept my promise so far and I intend to keep my promise. Unfortunately this is not made easier by the fact the some people in the Office have decided to withdraw the promise made by the office to me by changing the whole substance of my working conditions without my agreement. If I am to keep my promise, this must be tolerated, however, since there is no functioning legal system which will tell them to stop, so I have no defence. None the less, I intend to keep my promise, since I believe, and all the evidence I’ve seen confirms, that valid patents are important for the general public and the whole patent system.
It would be really nice if someone could persuade the office to revert to keeping it’s promise. I do hope these initiatives are a step along the way.

There are many more anonymous comments in there. The management of the EPO seems to have become besieged by an increasingly informed workforce, Parliament, and public. This can’t end well for Battistelli. His time is running out.

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