11.21.15

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EPO: It’s Like a Family Business – Part IV

Posted in Europe, Patents, Rumour at 9:51 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Gilles Requena visitSummary: Some more background information about Elodie Bergot and Gilles Requena, who are married whilst also sharing positions of power at the EPO (and also strong connections/ties with the EPO’s President, Mr. Battistelli); Rumours afloat at the EPO — some with ever-increasing circulation too — are worth noting

THE EPO is not an ordinary institution. It professes professionalism and public service, but it’s hard to take all that at face value. In part one, part two and part three of this series we have shown how Elodie Bergot, who is married to Battistelli’s assistant, got magically promoted. When the staff expressed shock the response from Team Battistelli was that some process which wasn’t even transparent was certain to assure the integrity of this promotion. Readers can make their own judgment and draw conclusions (if any) based on what we showed, but today we provide some more background about Gilles Requena.

“Mr. Requena previously worked under Battistelli when the latter was the Director General of the French National Institute for Intellectual Property (INPI). Mr. Requena joined the EPO in October 2010, a few months after Battistelli had taken up his duties as President of the EPO on the 1st of July, 2010.”The husband of Ms. Bergot is Mr. Gilles Requena, who is a close assistant of Battistelli. Mr. Requena previously worked under Battistelli when the latter was the Director General of the French National Institute for Intellectual Property (INPI). Mr. Requena joined the EPO in October 2010, a few months after Battistelli had taken up his duties as President of the EPO on the 1st of July, 2010.

Requena frequently accompanies Battistelli on his globe-trotting expeditions to the Intellectual Property Offices of the member states of the EPO and elsewhere:

Gilles Requena visitHere he can be seen as a member of the Presidential entourage during a “state visit” to Liechtenstein. That’s where the image on the right is cropped from.

The photo on this Web page was taken during a visit to the IPO of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. An English version of the accompanying text is available at the same site. This is the source of the image on the left. It’s publicly accessible, hence not a violation of privacy.

When you work for a private company of which you are founder, CEO or whatever, hiring a friend or family may generally be dubious (frowned upon by staff) but not inherently offensive; when you do this in the public sector, however, you have a responsibility to the public (you already enjoy a monopoly), so hiring should be done solely in the interests of the public. That’s why people in such positions are typically referred to as “public servants” — an ordinary and mundane term that Battistelli largely disgraced, especially when the context is the European Patent Office/Organisation.

Rumours

Now we enter rumourville and we ask readers to treat these as mere rumours. “In 2007,” we’ve learned. “Ms. Brimelow disclosed her working conditions when she joined the Office as President (including an approximate calculation of her salary in July 2007). In 2015 Mr. Battistelli disclosed the staff’s working conditions [but] Mr. Battistelli’s own contract still remains a well-guarded secret, known only to Mr. [Jesper] Kongstad and Mr. Archambeau (previously PD HR and now-Vice President at OHIM in Alicante). Evil tongues say that Ms. Bergot recently gave the President a 13% increase.”

The source “can neither confirm nor deny these rumours.” Since there is so much secrecy around it all, it’s not possible either. One can only guess based on hearsay. Battistelli likes to publicly brag about “transparency”, but his contract is perhaps an exclusion, among so many more exclusions. We have already learned that Battistelli was “asked — in vain — for his detailed earnings, including his salary, in an open letter” from SUEPO.

Mr. Requena and Ms. Bergot are not the only people from Battistelli’s ‘extended family’, so to speak. As one recent writing from SUEPO suggests:

Shortly after taking up office, Mr Battistelli put several of his previous co-workers at the French patent office (INPI) on key posts in the Office. A few months ago we flagged that the “inner circle” seemed to be growing, in particular around Elodie Bergot (PD4.3).

Our predictions are materializing. One of Ms Bergot’s personal assistants is Nadja Lefèvre. Ms Lefèvre joined the Office on 15.03.2014 as “Administrator A3” She was soon appointed head of “Administrative Services for Social Dialogue”, i.e. of the 100% staff representatives and secretaries. Next she was appointed head of “Conflict Resolution” a.i. Finally, in June of this year, “Internal Communication” was added to this already impressive work package. Since then a vacancy notice was published for a “Director HR Strategic Support and Change Management”. Only internal candidates may apply. The new Director “will manage a directorate… currently organised in 3 units: Internal Communication, Conflict Resolution Unit and Social Dialogue Administration”. We would be extremely surprised if the successful candidate were anyone other than Ms Lefèvre.

Nadja Lefèvre was mentioned here before, in relation to media spin and controversial interrogations [1, 2].

Minnoyal Double Standards

“Mr. Minnoye,” we’ve learned (the current VP1), “appears not to be amused that (DG1) documents are regularly leaking to the outside world.”

“The EPO likes selective transparency, which means making publicly available only the things that make the EPO look good while deliberately hiding the rest.”Well, when documents serve to prove irregularities it’s called whistleblowing and whistleblowers generally enjoy certain protections. It guards justice and ensures accountability within a self-serving system. The way to ensure that documents don’t regularly leak is to behave properly, in which case the leakers don’t qualify as whistleblowers. Sadly for Mr. Minnoye, there is a lot more to come. Trying to obstruct reporting isn’t a wise idea because the backlash it causes can be an order of magnitude greater than the perceived (and short-term) ‘gain’.

According to the EPO's own documents, accelerated examination for large ‘clients’ was the idea of Battistelli and VP1 (Minnoye). To quote EPO documents: “Both The President and VP1 have expressed the opinion that there needs to be closer contact between examiners and their applicants.”

It has also been alleged that Minnoye was involved in the next wave of propaganda, but we cannot confirm this for sure (no transparency at the EPO).

According to this new comment, “VP1″ (Minnoye) is hypocritical for bemoaning leaks. To quote the commenter: “That wouldn’t by any chance be the same VP1 who was allegedly involved in leaking the “facts” about a confidential internal investigation report to the Dutch press?”

Well, according to a letter from SUEPO: “A week before the Council meeting, Mr Minnoye (VP1), Ms Mittermaier (our new Dir. External Communication) and Mr Osterwalder (EPO press spokesman) apparently met with a journalist of the Financiele Dagblad.”

“To some people, truth itself is a considerable threat.”It’s becoming easy to see why Mr. Minnoye isn’t a big fan of this whole “transparency” thing which the President keeps boasting about. The EPO likes selective transparency, which means making publicly available only the things that make the EPO look good while deliberately hiding the rest.

Attempts to crack Techrights tripled this past week (an all-time high), with nearly a million attempts in just one week. It’s hard to tell who or what is behind it, but it sure limits access to the server as it’s a brute force attack. We do our best to counter this (thankfully, we have the technical skills and experience), but sometimes that is not enough. We remind readers to help protect the right to inform the public, as such rights should never be taken for granted. To some people, truth itself is a considerable threat.

“We often forget to appreciate something until we lose it. It’s a fact of life. We tend to take a lot of things for granted. We take a lot of people for granted.”

J. Angelo Racoma

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