11.05.15

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Dutch Political Action Against the EPO’s Management Greater Than Previously Estimated

Posted in Europe, Patents at 6:28 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

John KerstensSummary: Sharon Gesthuizen and John Kerstens (left) only two among many more who are actively working to stop Battistelli’s reign of terror

TECHRIGHTS has received constructive correction regarding this article from two days ago, covering the EPO scandals. Our ‘error’ is not quite realising just how big the political motion against the EPO management really has become in Dutch Parliament.

Some of our readers “think that [we] may have understated the significance of the “Motion by Gesthuizen/Kerstens concerning adherence by the European Patent Organisation to international legislation”.

“John Kerstens of the Dutch Labour Party and some of his parliamentary colleagues in the Dutch Parliament have been very active tabling various questions about EPO matters over the last few years.”

“John Kerstens of the Dutch Labour Party and some of his parliamentary colleagues in the Dutch Parliament have been very active tabling various questions about EPO matters over the last few years.”
      –Anonymous reader
“But this time round, it was more than just a parliamentary question. Supported by Sharon Gesthuizen from the Socialist Party, Kerstens tabled a motion that was voted on by the Parliament. The results of the vote can be found here.”

One reader says “this means that a national parliament of a host state* of the EPO has passed a motion calling on the government of that country “to do all that is possible to force the European Patent Organisation to adhere to international legislation”.

“In case you are interested, here’s list of the Dutch politicians that have been involved in tabling parliamentary questions at both national and European level:

Labour Party

Socialist Party

We welcome corrective or additive feedback as it helps accuracy of our articles. We do, however, advise people to do this anonymously, for their own protection.
_____
* The EPO “host states” are Germany, the Netherlands and Austria. The EPO headquarters are in Munich. There is a small branch office in Berlin dating from the “Cold War” era. The main branch office is in Rijswijk (a suburb of the Hague) in the Netherlands. There is a further small branch office in Vienna which is responsible for publications and associated ancillary tasks.

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3 Comments

  1. Dr.Guinness said,

    November 7, 2015 at 1:23 pm

    Gravatar

    The motion that was voted on by the Dutch Parliament was the following:
    “The House, 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 for taking more severe action against persons with diplomatic immunity who have 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.”.
    The results of the vote is in favour 98 votes and agaist 52 votes. This means that it is not easy for the Dutch government NOT to follow this motion with in favour 98 votes and agaist 52 votes. Moreover the government should explain why traffic fines are more serious than breaches of employee rights. It is very strange that the VVD (People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy) voted with 50 votes
    against the motion.In the Liberal Manifesto of the VVD I find under freedom: ‘Social rights’ are to be continued.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Do you suppose that the court judgement from The Hague can sooner or later be enforced (at least in the Netherlands)?

    Dr.Guinness Reply:

    My reply is yes. However political and legal activity should be intensified.
    Nederlands Juristenblad, a Dutch legal magazine, published an article about the judgment of the Dutch Court of Appeal in the case SUEPO v EPO:
    “The Court of Appeal in The Hague has created an international precedent in the case against EPO by rejecting the immunity of an international organisation in a collective labour law case, and also awarding the claims on their merits, based on the fact that the organisation in question violated fundamental human rights. This decision is important because it further institutionalises the accountability of international organisations. Unfortunately the Netherlands also showed itself at its most narrow-minded: the Minister (Ivo Willem Opstelten a now retired Dutch politician of the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy – the ¨VVD¨) instructed the bailiff to not enforce the judgement because the organisation enjoys immunity from enforcement under international law. This instruction not only erodes the separation of powers stipulated by the Constitution, it isn’t an obligation under international law either: as is the case for immunity from jurisdiction, immunity from enforcement can only be granted if the organisation adequately protects fundamental rights.”

    On March 10, 2015, Opstelten (VVD party), along with State Secretary Fred Teeven resigned after it was discovered that Teeven, then chief public prosecutor authorized the return of
    4.7 million guilders to convicted drugs dealer Cees H. in 2000, without the knowledge of his superior or the tax office.

    In February the Court of Appeal in The Hague ruled that the EPO is acting in conflict with the European Convention on Human Rights. The ruling states that the executives of the
    organisation may not frustrate the work of the union and must stop blocking e-mails from Suepo to the staff.However, the EPO says that it can ignore the ruling because as an international organisation it enjoys legal immunity. ‘The aim of that is to ensure the integrity of the organisation and to protect its neutral position against national interference’, Battistelli
    stated in an explanatory letter to staff. The EPO has lodged an appeal against the ruling with the Supreme Court.
    The Ministry of Justice is also of the opinion that the ruling by the court of Appeal cuts no ice. In response to clarification requested by MPs, new Minister Van der Steur (Justice) wrote
    ‘Enforcement of the ruling would be in conflict with the Kingdom’s obligations under international law’.

    Minister Van der Steur did however also say that as a host State the Netherlands shall ‘urge dialogue with the EPO in order to resolve the conflict between the staff and the management’. It is now November and nothing happened.

    Paul Beckett from Quinn Legal is a lawyer concerned by the plight of EPO staff and has independently assessed the applicability of fundamental rights in the internal workings of international organisations, and the EPO in particular. This clear and well structured document reflects his legal
    opinion, which should be taken into consideration in further legal work. You can find this document
    in http://www.suepo.org/public/news 10/09/2015. (cick on document link).

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