EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

11.21.15

German Press Says Broken EPO Lets President Severely Punish Staff Not Even Guilty of Any Wrongdoing

Posted in Europe, Patents at 9:02 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Juve

Summary: Juve publishes an article which attempts to be ‘balanced’ (meaning it believes everything that EPO officials say) but at the same time reveals unacceptable practices that go in inside the EPO

SEVERAL recent German press articles (with translations) have been supplied to us and we wish to share these for readers’ information and for future reference. The previous such translation spoke about threats against individual lawyers and herein we present an article from Juve. It helps highlight yet another example where EPO management evidently overrides any legal safeguards for staff. It is almost as though the EPO is neither a part of Europe nor even a part of Earth (the planet). Staff is being subjected to institutional harassment despite doing nothing wrong (that can be properly proven). Here is the original in German and the English translation as follows, with additional remarks below:

European Patent Office: Three members of the staff representation suspended

The problems at the European Patent Office (EPO) show no sign of abating. The Office has now initiated disciplinary proceedings against three staff representatives, as an EPO spokesperson confirmed to JUVE. Among them is Elizabeth Hardon, Chairperson of the Staff Union SUEPO and a member of the Munich staff representation. The actions of the Office triggered spontaneous protests.

Labour law attorney Şenay Okyay who is familiar with the latest developments expressed a clear criticism of the measures: Past experience of such disciplinary proceedings has shown that even if the disciplinary committee concludes that Hardon is not guilty of any wrongdoing, the President of the EPO does not consider himself to be bound by such findings. He could still decide on a dismissal or another disciplinary sanction. Only then could Hardon attempt to assert her rights before the Administrative Tribunal of the I.L.O. However, it usually takes many years before that Tribunal delivers its judgments and nobody is responsible for enforcing their execution.

“Past experience of such disciplinary proceedings has shown that even if the disciplinary committee concludes that Hardon is not guilty of any wrongdoing, the President of the EPO does not consider himself to be bound by such findings.”The attorney also criticized the fact that the suspensions are intended to muzzle the heads of the staff union SUEPO. This was contradicted by an EPA spokesman who claimed that the measures were justified by the misconduct of the staff representatives. The Office accuses the Union inter alia of data protection violations and harassment of colleagues. This is apparent from a statement by the EPO to its Member States which JUVE has seen. In addition, the Office disputes the claim that it initiated investigations into employees because they were SUEPO members. These measures were taken solely in order to investigate potential breaches of regulations by individual staff members. For this reason the EPO was not prepared to accede to SUEPO demands to terminate the disciplinary proceedings before the start of negotiations [about union recognition].

The disciplinary proceedings and suspensions triggered a spontaneous demonstration by staff in front of the EPO headquarters as well as protests on the Internet. The focus of the criticism is the manner in which the procedure has been conducted, because the disciplinary proceedings against Hardon were preceded by investigations carried out by the EPO’s so-called Investigation Unit. Such investigations are controversial because, according to the internal guidelines, the accused person does not have a right to remain silent and is not allowed to be accompanied by a lawyer during their interrogation. In the pending disciplinary proceedings, the defendants are now supposed to make written submissions in response to the allegations. This will be followed by a hearing before an internal committee equally composed of members of the management and staff representatives. According to experts, a decision may already be expected before Christmas.

“As has become known, the highest chamber of the internal judicial organ rejected as inadmissible a request to dismiss the judge.”In addition to the disciplinary proceedings at the EPO, a further lively discussion is taking place because proceedings to remove a member of the Boards of Appeal from office are also pending. Critics complain that this could jeopardize the independence of the internal judicial organ of the EPA. As has become known, the highest chamber of the internal judicial organ rejected as inadmissible a request to dismiss the judge. This request had been submitted by the Chairman of the Administrative Council, Jesper Kongstad. The Board of Appeal noted, inter alia, that in the case of a removal from office they needed to be certain that unsubstantiated or unfounded, false allegations could not be used as a pretext to get rid of an “irksome judge”.

However, in mid-October the Administrative Council initiated proceedings for the removal from office. Now the matter is before the Enlarged Board of Appeal for a second time.

Nevertheless, an EPO spokesperson announced that the social dialogue was to be continued in parallel to the three suspensions that include a “house ban”. The EPO is aiming to conclude an agreement with the staff unions and to grant them a legal standing in the EPO regulations which they have hitherto lacked. (Christina Schulze)

Recently, Juve interviewed and extensively quoted a prominent retired judge regarding the suspension of the above judge — a subject that we covered here before, even days ago when an English translation became publicly available. The article from Christina Schulze says that I.U. “investigations are controversial because, according to the internal guidelines, the accused person does not have a right to remain silent and is not allowed to be accompanied by a lawyer during their interrogation.”

“As a practising European Patent Attorney I am deeply concerned by the news emerging from the EPO and thank you for your good work in exposing the outrageous conditions.”
      –Anonymous European Patent Attorney
But actually, even worse things are happening, as we covered in our recent series [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7]. Then there is the rogue bunch of activities introduced by CRG, as covered in the articles below. Schulze speaks of “protests on the Internet.” Maybe she should speak to some people who write about this subject online ahead of publication of her next article. She can also speak to some angry patent lawyers, under the privilege/promise of anonymity. It is evident that even ‘clients’ (applicants) of the EPO are visibly upset. One person wrote this just before the weekend: “As a former patent attorney who once had a lot of respect for the EPO, this is pretty appalling.”

Remember that there is nowhere else for lawyers to turn to. The EPO has a monopoly in Europe, so poor service from the EPO harms everybody. It’s as if the EPO is “too big to fail”.

Earlier today a European lawyer told us: “As a practising European Patent Attorney I am deeply concerned by the news emerging from the EPO and thank you for your good work in exposing the outrageous conditions.”

There is a lot more to this story than the EPO's PR 'firewall' cares to admit. If journalists like Schulze require more information on the subject, we will be happy to assist; we feel obliged to help.

This clearly isn’t a case of angry peasants with pitchforks going after rich ‘successful’ guys but a case of abusive under-qualified old buddies from France regrouping and ganging up against doctors and professors who decided to become patent examiners.

Share this post: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • co.mments
  • DZone
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • NewsVine
  • Print
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Facebook

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

What Else is New


  1. Links 17/8/2019: Unigine 2.9 and Git 2.23

    Links for the day



  2. Computer-Generated Patent Applications Show That Patents and Innovations Are Very Different Things

    The 'cheapening' of the concept of 'inventor' (or 'invention') undermines the whole foundation/basis of the patent system and deep inside patent law firms know it



  3. Concerns About IBM's Commitment to OpenSource.com After the Fall of Linux.com and Linux Journal

    The Web site OpenSource.com is over two decades old; in its current form it's about a decade old and it contains plenty of good articles, but will IBM think so too and, if so, will investment in the site carry on?



  4. Electronic Frontier Foundation Makes a Mistake by Giving Award to Microsoft Surveillance Person

    At age 30 (almost) the Electronic Frontier Foundation still campaigns for privacy; so why does it grant awards to enemies of privacy?



  5. Caturdays and Sundays at Techrights Will Get Busier

    Our plan to spend the weekends writing more articles about Software Freedom; it seems like a high-priority issue



  6. Why Techrights Doesn't Do Social Control Media

    Being managed and censored by platform owners (sometimes their shareholders) isn’t an alluring proposition when a site challenges conformist norms and the status quo; Techrights belongs in a platform of its own



  7. Patent Prosecution Highways and Examination Highways Are Dooming the EPO

    Speed is not a measure of quality; but today's EPO is just trying to get as much money as possible, as fast as possible (before the whole thing implodes)



  8. Software Patents Won't Come Back Just Because They're (Re)Framed/Branded as "HEY HI" (AI)

    The pattern we've been observing in recent years is, patent applicants and law firms simply rewrite applications to make these seem patent-eligible on the surface (owing to deliberate deception) and patent offices facilitate these loopholes in order to fake 'growth'



  9. IP Kat Pays the Price for Being a Megaphone of Team UPC

    The typical or the usual suspects speak out about the so-called 'prospects' (with delusions of inevitability) of the Unified Patent Court Agreement, neglecting to account for their own longterm credibility



  10. Links 17/8/2019: Wine 4.14 is Out, Debian Celebrates 26 years

    Links for the day



  11. Nothing Says 'New' Microsoft Like Microsoft Component Firmware Update (More Hardware Lock-in)

    Vicious old Microsoft is still trying to make life very hard for GNU/Linux, especially in the OEM channel/s, but we're somehow supposed to think that "Microsoft loves Linux"



  12. Bill Gates and His Special Relationship With Jeffrey Epstein Still Stirring Speculations

    Love of the "children" has long been a controversial subject for Microsoft; can Bill Gates and his connections to Jeffrey Epstein unearth some unsavoury secrets?



  13. Links 16/8/2019: Kdevops and QEMU 4.1

    Links for the day



  14. The EPO's War on the Convention on the Grant of European Patents 2000 (EPC 2000), Not Just Brexit, Kills the Unitary Patent (UP/UPC) and Dooms Justice

    Team UPC continues to ignore the utter failures that have led to lawlessness at the EPO, attributing the demise of the Unified Patent Court (UPC) to Brexit alone and pretending that it's not even a problem



  15. Links 15/8/2019: GNOME's Birthday, LLVM 9.0 RC2

    Links for the day



  16. 'Foundation' Hype Spreads in China

    Nonprofits seem to have become more of a business loophole than a charitable endeavour; the problem is, this erodes confidence in legitimate Free software and good causes



  17. Links Are Not Endorsements

    If the only alternative is to say nothing and link to nothing, then we have a problem; a lot of people still assume that because someone links to something it therefore implies agreement and consent



  18. The Myth of 'Professionalism'

    Perception of professionalism, a vehicle or a motivation for making Linux more 'corporate-friendly' (i.e. owned by corporations), is a growing threat to Software Freedom inside Linux, as well as freedom of speech and many other things



  19. Links 14/8/2019: Best Chromebooks, EPEL 8.0, LibreOffice 6.2.6

    Links for the day



  20. Being in Favour of Free/Libre Open Source Software Means Rejecting Software Patents

    Those who believe in Software Freedom cannot at the same time believe that software patents are desirable; we've sadly come to a point where many companies that dominate so-called 'Open Source' groups actively lobby for such patents, in effect betraying the community they claim to be a part of



  21. Links 14/8/2019: Apache Evaluated, HardenedBSD Has New Release

    Links for the day



  22. Planet Python is Being Overrun by Microsoft, Just Like PyCon and Python in General

    Microsoft is perturbing the Free/Open Source software (FOSS) world from the inside, promoting Microsoft's most malicious proprietary software from within that world while taking positions of power in powerful FOSS projects



  23. Coming Soon: The Innards of the Eric Lundgren Case That Microsoft is Desperate to Hide or Spin (by Defaming Lundgren)

    Microsoft is rather stressed about Eric Lundgren coming out of prison and telling how Microsoft put him there; right now Microsoft is mostly name-calling while seeking to control public dialogues



  24. Wrong Person in Charge of the Linux Foundation (and in Charge of Linus Torvalds)

    There are several glaring issues when it comes to the leadership of Linux's steward; for one thing, it lacks actual background in... Linux



  25. 2019 Tech Glossary

    This clavis refers to what the de facto definition may be, based on how (and when) media uses the words nowadays



  26. The Silence of the Media Lamb

    There are reasons that are perfectly legitimate to criticise media which is unable and more so unwilling to cover particular scandals for fear that coverage can be detrimental to the media's owners and sponsors



  27. LINUX.COM Managed by Apple’s MacOS Users, Open Source Managed and Covered by People Who Reject Open Source

    The narratives are being hijacked; people who we're supposed to assume speak for Linux and for Open Source support neither of these things; they're only in it for the money



  28. The Linux Foundation's Open Source Summit is a Proprietary Software Marketing Venue

    The distortion of the term Open Source and promotion of proprietary software such as GitHub shows that the foundation called after “Linux” is actually more of a front group of hostile corporations — large brands and rich people to whom Open Source represents a threat that needs to be controlled



  29. Links 13/8/2019: Mir 1.4 Released, Qt PDF Discussed

    Links for the day



  30. Links 13/8/2019: KDevelop 5.4.1 and DragonFly 5.6.2 Released

    Links for the day


RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

Recent Posts