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09.23.15

EPO Management Justifies Censorship (Even of Journalists) Using Its Vice-President Željko Topić

Posted in Europe, Patents at 4:54 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: The Topić connection to EPO-imposed and universally-induced censorship not just of news sites but also sites which speak about the censorship itself, or dare question the integrity of the EPO’s management

EARLIER today we noticed an update from SUEPO, which had updated its public page to include this translation of an important article from Heise Online, a leading German publication focused on IT, even GNU/Linux at times.

SUEPO said that this article “comments on the censorship imposed on SUEPO’s website by the management of the European Patent Office. The article recalls former unusual measures such as the covert surveillance with keyloggers and cameras of semi-public computers within the Office.”

Here is the article’s translation in full, images included:

English translation

Union accuses European Patent Office of Censorship

17.09.2015 18:02 Christian Kirsch

vorlesen

battistelli-epo

EPO-President Benoît Battistelli

The Office management are accused of having arranged for the staff union to have links to Websites removed which have been reporting on internal conflicts – among them to heise online. The Office denies the accusations.

The disputes between employees and management at the European Patent Office have led to a number of press reports this week. The staff union SUEPO had set up links on its Website to some of these reports, but now all that appear are statements to the effect that pressure from the EPO management has led to the links having to be removed. But the management, when asked, denied exerting any kind of influence in this connection. They say that the union alone is responsible for its Website. The report on heise online, for example, had been quoted in their own internal press review.

suepo

Allegedly, the union has been forced to remove links to messages at fosspatents.com and heise.de under pressure from the Office management.

But in the past the Office has done some unusual things. For example the EPO management arranged for public and “semi-public” computers in the Office building to be monitored by cameras and for keyloggers to be installed on them, as patent observer Florian Müller reported. The reason for this is that the management are trying to identify leaks which are spreading “defamatory and injurious” contentions about Vice-President Željko Topić. The allegation is that a number of criminal prosecutions are pending against Topić in Croatia.

As an international organization, the EPO is not subject to any national labour legislation or jurisdiction. Disputes between management and staff are the concern of the International Labour Organization in Geneva. Supervision at the EPO is exercised by a 38-person Administrative Council, who are delegated by the Member States of the European Patent Convention, and in the past they have always solidly backed the EPO management.

Administrative Council in conflict of interest

Critics suspect there are two reasons for this. On the one hand, a large part of the income for the EPO comes from the patent offices of the Member States. Rumours abound, for example, that Germany acquires some 100 million Euro per year, although neither the German Patent and Trademark Office nor the EPO will publish exact figures. On the other hand, members of the Administrative Council would also be reckoning on their chances of securing one of the very well recompensed EPO positions; the career followed by the German EPO Vice-President Raimund Lutz, for example.

On enquiry, the Federal Ministry of Justice confirmed that the Basic Law applies equally to EPO employees, and in particular freedom of speech. The Ministry would make no comment, however, on the present state of affairs.

The article neglects to mention EPO censorship of SUEPO E-mails and also the Office-wide block against Techrights (affecting nearly 10,000 of the biggest stakeholders). These are serious omissions. The inclusion of these would have helped demonstrate how far back these censorship tactics go and how far — in terms of breadth and severity — they generally go. Željko Topić is called by some within the EPO “Putin”; these censorship tactic only serve to reinforce that stigma/comparison, given that the EPO’s management is now officially trying to use Topić as means of justifying the unprecedented censorship, suppressing links to anything which even speaks about this censorship.

The EPO’s management is cleatly out of control and out of touch.

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