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

09.17.15

European Patent Office Expands Censorship and Intimidation Against Staff as Pressure Mounts

Posted in Europe, Patents at 2:15 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Chinese labour and Internet standards in Europe

Manchester

Summary: The management of the European Patent Office (EPO) continues to increase its repressive assaults on EPO staff, essentially blocking access to additional sites which explain what the EPO is really doing and why this is wrong

COINCIDING with staff protests/demonstrations (but not strikes) that took place on Tuesday, the muzzling of Florian Müller gets reported. “EPO leadership pressured SUEPO to remove link to my blog from its homepage,” he told me earlier this week, shortly after writing that “In July it became known that the EPO blocked examiners’ access to TechRights” (source), correctly adding that it merely invokes more backlash. The “recommended reading for whomever at the EPO [...] prohibit links to this blog: the Streisand effect.”

The EPO is possibly trying to block (censor) evidence of the censorship itself. That’s how pathetic they’re becoming now. Are they really willing to go down this rabbit hole?

“Document temporarily removed due to threats of reprisals from EPO management,” says SUEPO’s public page in numerous places (with slight variations). “SUEPO is taking appropriate action to counter the threats.”

Well, welcome to the European Union’s most corrupt organisation, where censorship is part of the plan to hide evidence of the corruption, and sites that cover the censorship are themselves being censored, too. China or Russia are where one might expect such behaviour, not the European Union.

So, the EPO is now censoring/filtering/blocking yet another blog, and for what? It’s not as though the staff cannot access these sites from their mobile devices or their homes. Not many staff would be ‘brave’ enough to access sites critical of the EPO from within the premises of the EPO anyway, especially now that widespread surveillance (including cameras and keyloggers) is common knowledge among staff.

It seems likely that Müller became a target of censorship and suppression after he had posted a letter or a bunch of letters which the EPO’s management does not want to be public, for it proves bad behaviour. It actually started in Techrights and as Müller put it on Tuesday: “Last week, the TechRights blog published a letter by the head of the EPO’s investigative unit to Elizabeth Hardon, the chairwoman of the Munich chapter of the Staff Union of the European Patent Office (SUEPO), summoning her to a hearing last Thursday. I also blogged about this development because it shows that the promise of “union recognition” is just a carrot the EPO leadership has been dangling to staff without any genuine desire to improve the internal climate.

“Mrs. Hardon has probably never been at a greater risk of being fired, and the EPO is now not only talking about that scenario but additionally threatening “to take any other legal measures against [her]” over the alleged disclosure of the letter that was published last week.”

Any letter with threats in it is likely to spread sooner or later (at Techrights we never know the identity of our sources), so the EPO’s management must have been foolish to assume that it’ll never be leaked or sent out to a reporter at some stage. It merely proves that this management is incompetent. It believes that silencing opposition will work rather than continuously backfire and this is why after a relatively calm summer the management comes under fire again. Last week the Dutch media reported on the subject and we now have article translations [PDF]. These were published by SUEPO, which added: “Translations in English, French and German are available by scrolling through the document. The article was also published in the paper version of 10 September 2015.”

Here is the article’s text in English:

EPO President Benoit Battistelli. © ANP

Alarm about reign of terror at the European Patent Office after fifth suicide

The union Suepo has raised the alarm about the suicide of an employee at the European Patent Office (EPO) in Rijswijk. According to Suepo, poisoned working conditions may have contributed to the fifth suicide in three years at the Patent Office.

By: Anneke Stoffelen, 10 September 2015, 02:26

The European Patent Office employs around 7000 staff, spread over five offices in different countries, who evaluate patents for 38 affiliated member countries.

Staff representatives have previously raised the alarm about the reign of terror apparently being conducted by French EPO President Benoît Battistelli. According to Suepo, the work pressure has increased enormously under his leadership and changes to working conditions have been forced through by Battistelli unilaterally. Anyone who expresses criticism can expect reprisals.

Together with a number of other member countries, the Netherlands has expressed its concerns about the entrenched social climate within the EPO. In a letter to the Lower House in July, State Secretary for Economic Affairs Dijksma wrote: ‘Partly as a result of these signals a ‘social dialogue’ has been launched between management and staff representatives’.

A 42 year old employee in Rijswijk committed suicide in August, on the last day of his holidays.

However, the situation has not improved since then. In a letter to the 38 representatives of the EPO countries that supervise the organisation, the union has now raised the alarm about the death of the 42 year old employee at the Rijswijk office. He committed suicide in August, on the last day of his holidays.

It is the fifth time in just over three years that an EPO employee has committed suicide. In 2013 an employee jumped from the seventh floor of the office building in Rijswijk during working hours. The other three cases of suicide related to staff at the EPO head office in Munich.

France Telecom

In its letter, the union Suepo draws a comparison with the situation at France Telecom, which in 2008 and 2009 was afflicted with a wave of suicides amongst staff. The union wants the management of the EPO to assist with an independent investigation into the working conditions at the Patent Office.

On 26 August the union wrote a letter to Battistelli requesting a meeting about the potential measures for improving the work situation, however, so far the EPO President has refused to grant such a meeting.

“It is tragic that Suepo is once again abusing a personal tragedy and inciting controversy”, President Battistelli in a letter to the union.

‘It is tragic that Suepo is once again abusing a personal tragedy and inciting controversy, when condolences should be in order’, wrote Battistelli to the union. ‘The link that you appear to be drawing between the death of a colleague and recent reorganisations and the working atmosphere in general, seems totally inappropriate.’

Suepo says that a direct link between the suicide and the working conditions has not been demonstrated but that the Labour Inspectorate should be given the opportunity of
investigating this tragedy.

However, the EPO is not obliged to assist with such an investigation because as an international organisation it enjoys legal immunity. Consequently, the EPO management can also disregard a ruling by The Hague Court of Appeal with impunity. In February, the Court of Appeal ruled that the EPO was in breach of human rights by obstructing the activities of the union.

For other translations see the original PDF.

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. The Quality of Patents is Connected to the Quality of Life of Patent Examiners

    EPO staff is not happy (a new President has not changed things) and the problems associated with low quality of patents become more visible in courtrooms



  2. American Patent Courts Keep Narrowing Patent Scope, No Matter What Few Politicians Are Doing on Behalf of Litigation Firms and Patent Trolls

    Acts of desperation in the patent microcosm of the United States, where judges now overwhelmingly reject software patents at all levels (tribunals, lower courts, higher courts)



  3. Links 25/4/2019: Rancher Labs Releases Slim OS, OpenBSD 6.5 is Ready

    Links for the day



  4. Links 24/4/2019: Chrome 74, QEMU 4.0 Released

    Links for the day



  5. Supreme Court of the UK, Which Habitually Throws Out European Patents, May Overturn Troublesome Unwired Planet v Huawei Decision

    A lot of European Patents are facing growing scrutiny from courts (Team UPC, including Bristows, publicly complains about it this month) and "greenwashing" of the Office won't be enough to paint/frame these patents as "ethical"



  6. German Federal Patent Court Curbs the Patent Maximalism of the EPO, Which Promotes Patents on Nature and/or Maths Every Single Day

    European courts are restraining the EPO, which has been trying to bypass or replace such courts (with the UPC); it certainly seems as though European Patents rapidly lose their legitimacy or much-needed presumption of validity



  7. Any 'Linux' Foundation Needs to Be Managed by Geeks, Not Politicians and PR People

    Linux bureaucracy has put profits way ahead of technical merits and this poses a growing threat or constitutes risk to the direction of the project, not to mention its ownership



  8. Links 23/4/2019: Kodi 'Leia' 18.2 and DeX Everywhere

    Links for the day



  9. Code of Coercion

    Entryism is visible for all to see, but pointing it out is becoming a risky gambit because of the "be nice!" (or "be polite!") crowd, which shields the perpetrators of a slow and gradual corporate takeover



  10. António Campinos Would Not Refer to the EPO's Enlarged Board of Appeal If He Did Not Control the Outcomes

    António Campinos and his ilk aren’t interested in patent quality because his former ‘boss’, who publicly denied there were issues and vainly rejected patent quality concerns as illegitimate, is now controlled by him (reversal of roles) and many new appointees at the top are "yes men" (or women) of Campinos, former colleagues whom he bossed at EUIPO (as expected)



  11. Links 22/4/2019: Linux 5.1 RC6, New Release of Netrunner and End of Scientific Linux

    Links for the day



  12. USPTO and EPO Both Slammed for Abandoning Patent Quality and Violating the Law/Caselaw in Order to Grant Illegitimate Patents on Life/Nature and Mathematics

    Mr. Iancu, the ‘American Battistelli’ (appointed owing to nepotism), mirrors the ‘Battistelli operandi’, which boils down to treating judges like they’re stooges and justices like an ignorable nuisance — all this in the name of litigation profits, which necessitate constant wars over illegitimate patents (it is expensive to prove their illegitimacy)



  13. IRC Proceedings: January 27th, 2019 – March 24th, 2019

    Many IRC logs



  14. IRC Proceedings: December 2nd, 2018 – January 26th, 2019

    Many IRC logs



  15. Links 21/4/2019: SuperTuxKart's 1.0 Release, Sam Hartman Is Debian’s Newest Project Leader (DPL)

    Links for the day



  16. The EPO's Use of Phrases Like “High-Quality Patent Services” Means They Know High-Quality European Patents Are 'Bygones'

    The EPO does a really poor job hiding the fact that its last remaining objective is to grant as many European Patents as possible (and as fast as possible), conveniently conflating quality with pace



  17. A Reader's Suggestion: Directions for Techrights

    Guest post by figosdev



  18. Links 20/4/2019: Weblate 3.6 and Pop!_OS 19.04

    Links for the day



  19. The Likes of Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys (CIPA), Team Campinos and Team UPC Don't Represent Europe But Hurt Europe

    The abject disinterest in patent quality and patent validity (as judged by courts) threatens Europe but not to the detriment of those who are in the 'business' of suing and printing lots of worthless patents



  20. The Linux Foundation Needs to Change Course Before GNU/Linux (as a Free Operating System) is Dead

    The issues associated with the Linux Foundation are not entirely new; but Linux now incorporates so many restrictions and contains so many binary blobs that one begins to wonder what "Linux" even means



  21. Largest Patent Offices Try to Leave Courts in a State of Disarray to Enable the Granting of Fake Patents in the US and Europe

    Like a monarchy that effectively runs all branches of government the management of the EPO is trying to work around the judiciary; the same is increasingly happening (or at least attempted) in the United States



  22. Links 19/4/2019: PyPy 7.1.1, LabPlot 2.6, Kipi Plugins 5.9.1 Released

    Links for the day



  23. Links 18/4/2019: Ubuntu and Derivatives Have Releases, digiKam 6.1.0, OpenSSH 8.0 and LibreOffice 6.2.3

    Links for the day



  24. Freedom is Not a Business and Those Who Make 'Business' by Giving it Away Deserve Naming

    Free software is being parceled and sold to private monopolisers; those who facilitate the process enrich themselves and pose a growing threat to freedom in general — a subject we intend to tackle in the near future



  25. Concluding the Linux Foundation (LF) “Putting the CON in Conference!” (Part 3)

    Conferences constructed or put together based on payments rather than merit pose a risk to the freedom of free software; we conclude our series about events set up by the largest of culprits, which profits from this erosion of freedom



  26. “Mention the War” (of Microsoft Against GNU/Linux)

    The GNU/Linux desktop (or laptops) seems to be languishing or deteriorating, making way for proprietary takeover in the form of Vista 10 and Chrome OS and “web apps” (surveillance); nobody seems too bothered — certainly not the Linux Foundation — by the fact that GNU/Linux itself is being relegated or demoted to a mere “app” on these surveillance platforms (WSL, Croûton and so on)



  27. The European Patent Office Does Not Care About the Law, Today's Management Constantly Attempts to Bypass the Law

    Many EPs (European Patents) are actually "IPs" (invalid patents); the EPO doesn't seem to care and it is again paying for corrupt scholars to toe the party line



  28. The US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) Once Again Pours Cold Water on Patent Maximalists

    Any hopes of a rebound or turnaround have just been shattered because a bizarre attack on the appeal process (misusing tribal immunity) fell on deaf ears and software patents definitely don't interest the highest court, which already deemed them invalid half a decade ago



  29. Links 17/4/2019: Qt 5.12.3 Released, Ola Bini Arrested (Political Stunts)

    Links for the day



  30. Links 16/4/2019: CentOS Turns 15, Qt Creator 4.9.0 Released

    Links for the day


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