Summary: The wrath of European politicians remains a problem for Benoît Battistelli and his team (Team Battistelli), which has thus far used a political fluke to claim immunity from the law and even snub court rulings
OVER A HUNDRED European politicians have already complained about the EPO’s scandals, but little has actually happened politically. Not much has been practically changed. Law enforcement cannot do much because the EPO — as odd as it may seem — enjoys immunity. The EPO’s management therefore ignores the law and ignores court orders. It’s like the Mafia.
“Marc Tarabella,” wrote SUEPO earlier today, “a Belgian member of the European Parliament has posed questions to the European Commission” and a translation into English
[PDF] was provided as follows. Quoting Tarabella (shown above):
29 June 2015
Question for written answer
to the Commission
Marc Tarabella (S&D)
Subject: Serious problems of governance in the European Patent Office (EPO)
Attempts have been made recently to alert public opinion to the particularly harmful social climate that has prevailed for several months in the EPO (expulsion of trade unions, harassment, multiple suicides, invasion of privacy, etc.). The situation has become very worrying for the 7 000 people employed by the EPO, who are facing extreme pressure from management, which is imposing intolerable productivity targets on employees without even offering them the minimum guarantees provided for under national labour laws.
The Hague Court of Appeal, in a decision dated 17 February 2015, ruled that trade union rights had been seriously breached and urged the EPO to amend its internal rules. However, EPO President Benoît Battistelli rejected this ruling under the pretext that it would violate the EPO’s immunity.
The EPO therefore seems to be unacceptably abusing its status as an international organisation in order not to provide the basic guarantees of European democracy.
1. What is the relationship between the Commission and the EPO?
2. Knowing that the Commission sets great store by respect for fundamental rights in Europe, where does it stand in general terms on these issues?
Original language of question: FR
Last updated: 1 October 2015
Another (much more recent) question was also translated into several languages
[PDF]. The English translation, much like the above, shows that the main concern is the EPO ignoring the rule of law:
Motion by Gesthuizen/Kerstens concerning adherence by the European Patent Organisation to international legislation – Adoption of the budgetary statements of the Ministry of Economic Affairs (XIII) and the Animal Health Fund (F) for 2016 – Main content
Lower House of the States General
Session year 2015-2016
34 300 Adoption of the budgetary statements of the Ministry of Economic Affairs
XIII (XIII) and the Animal Health Fund (F) for 2016
MOTION BY MEMBERS GESTHUIZEN AND KERSTENS
Proposed 15 October 2015
having heard the deliberations,
is of the opinion that the conduct of directors of international organisations which has no relationship to their international representation but which does result in a breach of national rules, should not be covered by diplomatic immunity;
finds that in April 2014 the government presented a Plan of Approach with measures No. for taking more severe action against persons with diplomatic immunity who have 22 breached the law of the Netherlands,
finds that those measures only address traffic fines and criminal offences and do not address breaches of employee rights as established at the European Patent Organisation by the Court;
requests the government, within the limits of the treaties, to do all that is possible to
force the European Patent Organisation to adhere to international legislation,
and proceeds to the order of the day.
Parliamentary paper-34300-XIII-22 ISSN 0921 –
Lower House, session year 2015-2016,
7371 The Hague 2015
34 300 XIII, no. 22
Recall the political interventions back in July and back in March or thereabouts (after Battistelli had arrogantly waived the law). The pressure on the EPO’s management is increasing; severe action is just a matter of time because these scandals simply cannot be swept under a rug.
Incidentally, watch how ‘transparency’ works at the EPO. Earlier today David Brophy wrote that “the issue of poisonous priorities (and poisonous divisionals) is the subject of a referral to the European Patent Office (EPO) Enlarged Board of Appeal which is pending under reference G 1/15. [...] According to an announcement appearing yesterday on the EPO website, but carrying a date of October 2 (is this an error, the IPKat wonders, given that the date is exactly one month prior to the website publication date?), the President has decided to stay all proceedings before examination or opposition divisions where the outcome depends entirely on the answers that the Enlarged Board may give in G 1/15.”
Revisit what we wrote earlier today about the relentless attacks on the Enlarged Board of Appeal. Outside scrutiny cannot be tolerated, as if the EPO is a country of its own, governed (without elections) by a few managers with big egos. Their reaction to anyone who dares to question their conduct is similar to that of the Saudi government. EPO managers derive their confidence from the silly immunity, whereas the Saudi regime derives it from the oil it sits on top of.
European politicians need to work together to put an end to the lawlessness of the EPO. No organisation should be exempted from laws, human rights guidelines and so on. █
“The government is not trying to destroy Microsoft, it’s simply seeking to compel Microsoft to obey the law. It’s quite revealing that Mr. Gates equates the two.”