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07.02.15

Translation of Pierre-Yves Le Borgn’ Speech Against EPO Management and New Parliamentarian Interventions

Posted in Europe, Patents at 1:20 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: More political fire targeting the EPO’s management, adding up to over 100 parliamentarians by now

DAYS ago we wrote about an intervention by Pierre-Yves Le Borgn’, who had already intervened before regarding EPO abuses. He has since then uploaded his short speech to YouTube and SUEPO has a translation. “Pierre-Yves Le Borgn’,” it said, “a French Member of Parliament, made an intervention at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on 25 June 2015.

“Mr Le Borgn’ explained the rollback of fundamental rights at the European Patent Office (EPO) and referred to the Report of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights from Mr José María Beneyto, Accountability of international organizations for human rights violations [...] The intervention is available on YouTube. A transcript is available here.”

We have made it available below as HTML in English, for future reference and permanent record.

Intervention by Pierre-Yves Le Borgn’ (PS)

Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe at Strasbourg on 25 June 2015

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=69s1vXjEo5M

“Thank you Mr. President. My question relates to the suppression of fundamental rights at the European Patent Office.

International organizations are most often accorded immunity from judicial intervention by virtue of the agreements and conventions which brought them into existence, or by headquarters agreements. This immunity allows them not to be arraigned before the courts of the state or states in which they are established. This is understandable and is good policy in particular with regard to the independence of the organization.

But immunity from judicial intervention does not mean creating a place not subject to the rule of law, or of lesser law and lesser right. Accordingly, a person working for an international organization, and there are tens of thousands of them on our continent, starting here at the Council of Europe, cannot be deprived of the right of being heard before a court, in accordance with Paragraph 1 of Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Again, but this time by virtue of Article 11 of the Convention, the right to collective action must be guaranteed. This includes the right of a staff union organization representing the employees of the organization likewise to be heard by a court or tribunal, where defence can be provided both individually and collectively. Thus it is that the Court of Appeal at The Hague summoned the European Patent Office on 17 February this year, suspending its immunity, which rarely occurs, is almost unprecedented, and in any case a rare thing, in order to protect the collective rights of some 7000 staff members concerned.

There can in fact be no doubt that policies which are at odds with the fundamental rights consecrated in the European Convention on Human Rights and the European Social Charter are developing under the cover of immunity from court intervention. Restriction on the right of association, reduction of the right to strike, impeding the right of collective negotiation, depriving an organization of any recourse to the courts, and failing to implement a court decision, which unfortunately is the case with regard to the judgment of 17 February, are profoundly unacceptable developments. I would therefore like to take the opportunity of this free debate to set before our Assembly, naturally, but also before the Committee of Ministers on which our 47 Member States are represented, 38 of which are also members of the European Patent Office. Two years ago the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe approved the report by our colleague José Maria Beneyto on the obligations of international organizations to answer for their actions in the event of violations of Human Rights. In the extension of the Beneyto report, this matter of the respecting of social rights, both individual as well as collective, of the staff of international organizations was deemed worthy of being extended, investigated, and, above all, strengthened.

I know the European Patent Office. I esteem all the added value which it provides for the European economy, and I appreciate the excellent work of its staff. But I am also aware of the climate which prevails within it: Management by fear, the impeding of collective action, failure to recognize warning signs, and absence of any independent mechanism of supervision and internal monitoring. I make appeal to the Member States, from whom the European Patent holds its legitimacy, to act, because now is the time to act.”

According to Florian Müller, there is more to it; he has found more questions from politicians. The EPO’s management is under more fire from many more politicians, “17 Members of the European Parliament” by Müller’s count. Here is the one with more names on it. Bear in mind this one is just one of several:

Kostadinka Kuneva (GUE/NGL), Lynn Boylan (GUE/NGL), Martina Anderson (GUE/NGL), Pablo Iglesias (GUE/NGL), Lola Sánchez Caldentey (GUE/NGL), Stelios Kouloglou (GUE/NGL), Paloma López Bermejo (GUE/NGL), Barbara Spinelli (GUE/NGL), Fabio De Masi (GUE/NGL), Tania González Peñas (GUE/NGL), Helmut Scholz (GUE/NGL), Neoklis Sylikiotis (GUE/NGL), Kostas Chrysogonos (GUE/NGL), Matt Carthy (GUE/NGL) and Miloslav Ransdorf (GUE/NGL)

Subject: Violation of labour and trade union rights in the European Patent Organisation (EPO)

The Dutch appeal court recently ruled (case number 200.141.812 / 01 / 17-2-2015) that the European Patent Organisation (EPO) violated workers’ labour rights deriving from the EU Treaties and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. Consequently the Dutch court, exceptionally, has not accepted the immunity EPO enjoys as an international organisation, since this immunity cannot allow for human rights violations. Nevertheless EPO declared it would ignore the ruling pleading execution immunity.

There is definitely strong momentum being built. Regarding DDOS attacks against this site, we are going to visit attorneys tomorrow regarding legal action against Amazon (which refuses to say who used its AWS facilities to repeatedly attack this site).

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