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10.13.15

Staff of the EPO Under Siege Ahead of Tomorrow’s Demonstration in Munich

Posted in Europe, Patents at 5:36 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Shooting the messengers again

Kent State massacre
Recall the lessons of an antiwar protest at Kent State University
© 1970 Valley News-Dispatch

Summary: The smaller demonstration in The Hague is estimated to have had about 400 participants, but the big protest will take place tomorrow in Munich and it is already being forcibly removed out of EPO buildings, allegedly for ‘security reasons’ because of VP4 (Željko Topić)

EXCITING TIMES? Not if you work at the management of the EPO, which is about to come under a lot of attacks (negative publicity) in English-speaking media, including media which targets patent lawyers (i.e. clients of the EPO, which oddly enough warped into a business with 'favourite' customers that enter or hop onto a V.I.P. queue). We have just learned that this scheme is already “a permanent fixture”, so don’t accept all sorts of excuses from the EPO, or any attempts to belittle this scandal. Watch the ‘damage control’ and see the update at Heise (with over 60 comments now, as the EPO can’t just ignore this scandal or even simply stay silent). Today was the first time the EPO (through its official Twitter account) chose to engage with me (indirectly, in response to something a patent lawyer wrote). I never even tried to engage with them before. They blocked my site (gagged me), as a matter of unprecedented policy which precludes even common sense. It’s personal. To them it’s personal. For posting what they themselves wrote (verbatim) I had the EPO saying I was “wrong”. The evidence speaks for itself though (a legitimate leak), does it not? If anyone is wrong here, it’s the EPO. They were wrong to even attempt this utterly ludicrous scheme, which has become permanent (they might, due to pressure from the media and the public, choose to change/rewrite history and pretend it never was).

Ad Hominem? That’s the EPO’s Spiel

The EPO is desperate now. It doesn’t know exactly what to say to the media (journalists are inquiring) and people at the managerial tier certainty cannot take the blame. Union-busting and protest-crushing doesn’t seem to have worked; it only caused backlash or blowback (to use the term infamously coined by the CIA, which also likes to ‘interrogate’ innocent people* and has just been belatedly sued for it, as reported earlier today[1, 2]). The EPO is misleading and misdirecting right now. It just looks at who to blame other than itself. Right now they are witch-hunting Elizabeth Hardon, whose name was made public by Florian Müller just over a month ago. Alluding to an issue that we covered last week in Techrights, IP Kat finally tackled the horrible personal attacks on Hardon.

“Merpel has hitherto been reluctant to identify individuals involved in disputes with the EPO,” she wrote, “but now that one of them has been named in other media sources, she need not in this instance concern herself with discretion: the EPO administration is singling out for special treatment Elizabeth Hardon, who is Chair of SUEPO Munich and also Chair of the Local Staff Committee in Munich. Ms Hardon has already been demoted for alleged “harassment”, but Merpel understands that the act complained of was a single sentence written in her official capacity, and that the person purporting to be harassed by this was a senior member of the EPO administration. This does not correspond to any understanding of harassment that Merpel has encountered before.

“Now, in an escalation of action, Ms Hardon was summoned to a disciplinary hearing on 10 September 2015 relating to allegations of harassment, but the nature of these allegations was not specified. The summons was however published on the Techrights blog and elsewhere. This apparently being contrary to the requirement to maintain confidentiality in the case of disciplinary investigations, Ms Hardon was then requested by the EPO’s Principal Director Human Resources to name all persons to whom the summons had been disclosed, as reported on the FOSS Patents blog. Ms Hardon’s lawyer responded by challenging the legitimacy of requiring the accused employee to keep the fact of the investigation secret, as well as other aspects of the investigation process. This letter can be seen on the SUEPO website here, at 21/09/2015. The same lawyer has since written to the Administrative Council and to the President of the EPO, complaining of institutional harassment of Ms Hardon, and the letter has been posted and reported on the FOSS Patents blog. It remains to be seen whether any of these pleas will have any effect.”

Notice the comments posted there. Some are directed personally at Ms Hardon. She must be untoucable now because if the EPO does anything to her, then many resignation letters and a massive brain drain (already a serious issue) are to be expected. This is what solidarity is about. Will people march for Hardon and her SUEPO colleagues? The bigger the march, the stronger the pressure on EPO management, not on SUEPO. It’s not an overly simplistic “either you are with us” situation; a showing of solidarity helps send out the message that the staff is loyal to those who protect staff, not the management (which is mostly preoccupied attacking the staff when Battistelli looks over their shoulder). The staff needs to make it clear who’s in charge or at least who deserves some respect. The EPO’s talent (or “asset”) is the doctors and professors who objectively assess patent applications. A “lunatic tyrant” management model (reign by fear of irrational outbursts) shouldn’t be tolerated anymore.

Quoting Merpel again: “The SUEPO website reports (see item of 09/10/15) that further demonstrations will continue at the EPO. A demonstration in Munich on 14 October 2015 will focus on the issue of institutional harassment of EPO staff.”

The Inside Story About the Demonstrations

We wish to say more about these demonstrations, which are about to receive some press coverage even in English-speaking media. This quite seldom happens because German-speaking and Dutch-speaking articles are a lot more commonplace. They barely inspire British authors and journalists who cannot even comprehend the language. World IP Review told us they’re “aiming to publish a couple of reports tomorrow” (Wednesday), so we want to share more of what we know. For those who still are not aware of the demonstration tomorrow (staged by EPO employees in Munich, where the biggest office is based), the SUEPO Web site (SUEPO.org) is a good place to start. The EPO is not professional and it habitually lies. It also breaks the rules, so don’t trust a single word that comes out of its representatives’ mouths. All they do is propaganda of the crudest kind.

Staff of the EPO has chosen to “put together some information regarding the latest (sad) development in the EPO Saga.”

To paraphrase a little, the “good” news spread by the EPO President during the Management Meeting in Munich and The Hague, the large PR exercise which took place 2 weeks ago, is that the patent office is in peace. Yes, you heard that right. Lying right through his teeth!

According to Battistelli, there is “no social tension” as “there has been no strike this year” (who crushed it and how?). Based on the text below, Željko Topić is already engaging in tactics designed (and quickly refined or perfected) to discourage attendance/participation in protests. Did Topić bring these tactics from the Balkans or is he just inspired by China?

Battistelli claims that only a “small hardcore” troop of unionist are engineering a “negative media campaign very damaging for the EPO reputation” (nonsense because the protests precede by a huge gap any media coverage regarding these issues).

Notice how this parallels or mirrors the dismissive tone of TPP proponents. They ridicule and belittle their vast opposition.

“The disconnect with reality,” said one person, “may be obvious for any reader who knows the spirit in the machine rooms; But considering the utter silence with which these statements have been received during this expensive “Grand Messe”, the disconnect seems also shared by assembled loyal EPO line-managers. It is expected that the same story will be told to the Council Delegations who are meeting [...] in Munich for the 14th AC session.”

Considering how Battistelli gamed and even bribed the media in exchange for positive coverage, one should be prepared for the spin. Journalists should not believe a single word that comes out from Battistelli’s mouth (and his loyal ilk, which is more like family). Maybe they actually believe their own lies. “And if they do not read any newspaper nor publication,” said one person, “[especially] from staff on the subject, they may even believe it [their lies].”

“Instead of peace,” alleged another person who attended today’s protest, here is what the reality of social “peace” looks like:

A demo has taken place today, Tuesday 12.10 in The Hague, with buses starting from the EPO premises aiming at the building of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment, Social Affairs Inspectorate. The Dutch MP, John Kerstens joined the well-attended Demo (ca. 400 participants) and the small delegation that met a Dutch Official in the Ministries premises.

A further demo will take place tomorrow, Wednesday 13.10 in Munich in front of the ISAR to express their discontent to the assembled delegations. Allegedly for security reasons, the “announced demonstration cannot take place in the EPO premises, nor on the EPO grounds” (VP4).

General assembly will take place in Berlin in the Halle West on Friday, 16.10, from 12.00 to 14.00, to inform about the possible implications for the Berlin side of general developments in the EPO.

The staff is experiencing further drastic cuts of their working conditions:

- the official staff “consultation” body known as GCC took place last week in the usual new EPO management style, introducing amongst others new rules of procedure allowing the management to write unilaterally the minutes and hence decide what has been discussed.

[...]

For the outside world, the EPO used to be a Model Organisation. Now, the EPO is becoming a laughing stock:

According to news blogs, the EPO has a new policy meant to handle our major “customers“ (my apologies to sensitive readers, but this is new EPO jargon for applicants and public)

Please stay tuned as there is a lot more coming, including media coverage for the rest of this week (some in English).
_____
* Mental torture is also a form of torture, albeit nonviolent, depending on the definition of violence.

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