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11.22.15

President Battistelli Now Pressures/Threatens Politicians Who ‘Dare’ to Complain About Abuses and Unacceptable Conditions at the EPO

Posted in Europe, Patents at 5:46 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

French politicians are not tolerating Battistelli’s patronising behaviour

Pierre-Yves Le Borgn'
Photo via Wikipedia

Summary: Pierre-Yves Le Borgn’, a French politician, unleashes an angry letter from Benoît Battistelli and reveals just to what lengths the EPO’s Team Battistelli is willing to go in order to crush political backlash

THE EPO’s management is completely losing it, and it is going after politicians now, not just lawyers of staff whom it's abusing. It’s evidently fearful that political interventions will put end an to the status quo and we don’t know just how widespread this kind of response is. All we know is that Pierre-Yves Le Borgn’ has just made public (possibly without any permission) a letter that reveals the pressure he came under for merely criticising the EPO’s management. Pierre-Yves Le Borgn’ was covered here the other day and beforehand, e.g. [1, 2, 3, 4]. There are similar motions from Dutch politicians and these significantly intensified lately, so we wonder if they too received such letters from Battistelli, as if he is the President of the world and no-one may ‘dare’ to question his authority, not even the French government. Who will Battistelli go after next? The European Federation of Public Service Unions? This is unprecedented and it’s almost unbelievable. Nevertheless it’s very much true and we thank Pierre-Yves Le Borgn’ for ‘leaking’ evidence.

“This is unprecedented and it’s almost unbelievable.”Linking to the original blog about it (in French), one commenter says: “Benoît Battistelli is not able anymore to accept different opinions of Unions, journalists, politicians. When you do not agree with him or have critics he becomes agressive [sic] and you soon will have a visit of the Investigation Unit. I am afraid that the protest this week with a few thousend [sic] participants inclusive directors does not imprees [sic] him at all. Benoît Battistelli believes in a conspiracy against him.Read his letter. Nice foot for a couch doctor.”

This EPO letter from Battistelli to P.-Y. Le Borgn’ has been translated for us by a reader. “You probably know that French Deputy for Overseas Citizens,” this reader told us, “wrote a letter [PDF] to the EPO regarding the recent developments concerning repression of the staff unions and the Boards of Appeal.”

We did take note of that a few days ago, but we were looking for translations at the time.

“Battistelli recently replied,” we’re told, “and the reply is published on Le Borgn’s Web site here [PDF].

“I have translated the letter from Battistelli for your information.”

“Mr Le Borgn’ has commented on his Web site,” the reader added (as pointed out above), having decided to also translate his comments as follows:

I have received an angry letter from the President of the EPO in response to the letter that I sent earlier this week to the Minister of the Economy, Industry and Digital Economy, Emmanuel Macron, and which I published on my website. It is right to make the letter from President Battistelli public in the same way. You will therefore find this letter attached.

Fundamentally, I deny nothing that I wrote to the Minister. I add that I do not usually allow myself to be upset, nor lectured. I am a free parliamentarian and I endeavour to be fair. It is not in denying reality and eradicating social dialogue that one builds the future. I am distressed by the messages that I have been receiving from employees of the EPO, this morning too.

I have never seen such a conflict. President Battistelli knows that a resolution is important to me. I am grateful to him for accepting the exchange with me, including in his office at Munich at the start of this year. I believe he can also understand that one can be in disagreement with him and choose, as I did last Tuesday, to make public this disagreement when one believes that this is the only way out.

Here is the letter from Battistelli himself:

Monsieur le deputé,

You publish on your website a letter addressed to the Minister of the Economy, Industry and the Digital Economy, dated 18 November 2015, in which you alert him to the “deterioration” of the situation within the EPO by mentioning certain procedures taken against staff representatives. I can only deplore most profoundly this adoption of a public stance, without prior communication with the Office and without having taken the time to familiarise yourself with all aspects of this topic.

The procedures in motion are due to serious incidents which have occurred within the staff representation during the last 18 months and to which any responsible employer must react. In fact, shortly after the election of the staff representatives in June 2014, six of decided to resign, the most striking case concerning an elected member of the central staff committee who suffered a veritable campaign of harassment due to their opinions which diverged from those of the representatives of SUEPO, the majority internal union at the EPO. The result of these actions is that all the elected representatives who did not belong to SUEPO or who expressed alternative opinions quit the staff representation.

Such a situation, which makes a mockery of the fundamental principles of freedom of expression and association, of democratic pluralism, cannot be tolerated within our organisation and investigations were commissioned with the aim of establishing the facts and responsibilities, having regard to the regulations of the EPO. Where needed, notably in case of pressuring witnesses to obtain their retraction, suspensions may be implemented. The EPO has a duty of care for all its staff and we must protect our employees, independently of their status.

In this context, your public intervention relating to these procedures which are in progress seem to me to be most damaging. First of all, it is completely false to assert that “interrogations of rare force” had been conducted. This is especially easy to prove, because these interviews are recorded. Besides, it is not acceptable to cast aspersions on the Investigative Unit of the Office, composed of mothers and fathers dedicated to a task which is often diffcult but which is indispensable in the fight against fraud, harassment and other offences which could destabilise our organisation. Finally, I fear that your public stance in favour of certain individual members of SUEPO may be seen as a form of pressuring the staff representatives who resigned, victims of actions which they reported to the administration.

These individual procedures, linked to circumscribed facts, will not detract from my intention to achieve a social dialogue, respectful of the EPO, with various social partners. In order to improve the framework, last Spring I launched an initiative aimed at formalising legally the integration of the unions within the framework of the Office. I am determined to pursue the discussions and to sign a framework agreement with any union which so desires, including SUEPO.

If the Office has truly experienced a difficult period, it is mainly due to an intense campaign of defamation conducted by certain employees, with external representation, against the management of the Office and the Administrative Council of the Organisation, wrongly accused of multiple types of misconduct. The main actor in this shameful business – a member of the boards of appeal, a specialist in IT systems – has been discovered and numerous seizures of evidence bear witness to his many crimes (amongst others, leaks of confidential documents of the Boards to an external party for profit; violations of the Office IT system; storage of Nazi propaganda and weapons in his office; a letter with racist connotations sent to a Minister of State of the EU). This person, thanks to his technical expertise, knew how to create tens of false identities, apparent owners of blogs and websites, through which he propagated defamations, insults and threats. A number of his communications were addressed to national parliamentarians, particularly French ones (yourself among them) and European ones, and petitions have even been deposited with the European Parliament.

The aims of this operation: to discredit the management of the Office, in order to damage its capacity for reform and to prevent the bringing into force of the Unitary Patent, whose management has been entrusted to the Office by the institutions of the EU. The Disciplinary Committee of the Administrative Council of the EPO seized of this issue (an independent and joint body, headed by Lord Schiemann, a renowned judge, former member of the Court of Justice of the European Union) approved all of the procedure of the inquiry and considered that dismissal of the author of these facts is required. The impact for the Office in terms of its image and reputation has been very heavy, even if certain media outlets are beginning to better comprehend the nature of the conflict (see the annexe). I understand the magnitude of this impact all the more after having read your letter.

As far as the results and performance of the Office are concerned, the year 2015 looks set to be a record year for the level of production (+13%), for the control of costs (-10%), the quality of its products and services being recognised as the best in the world by its users, according to enquiries conducted by external organisations. Such results can only be obtained by the engagement of employees who are motivated and confident in their professional lives, supported by a new career system based on performance. We have additionally seen a sharp reduction in sickness absences (-35% in 5 years), a very low level of departure (2.5% of employees per year), as well as the reinforcement of the attractiveness of the Office as an employer (more than 20 000 candidates for 200 posts in 2015). These performances permit the funding of a fair return to the employees of the office. A few examples: an average increase of +10 to 12% in salaries since 2011; a budget of 18 million euros distributed in promotions and bonuses in 2015; almost half a billion euros injected into the retirees’ reserve fund.

I have unfortunately not had the opportunity to share this information with you before the publication of your letter. My door obviously remains open to all those who testify to an interest in the EPO and the positive role it plays in the European economy. I do not doubt, given your commitment to transparency and delivering the correct information to your readers, that you will publish this letter in its entirety on your website.

Yours sincerely,

Benoît Battistelli

Our reader is not a fluent French speaker so if any of our readers wish to correct it, we would be happy for corrections to be made as we go along. We need an accurate translation. Notice how in Battistelli’s letter he pretends that it all boils down to one single employee, whom he thoroughly discredits without producing evidence. This is a mis-characterisation of the problem and an effort to extrapolate or generalise, portraying the staff as a whole as violent without producing concrete evidence. As one commenter put it, “I don’t think the problem is facts and evidence. I think the problem is the link between an accusation – “He’s an armed nazi” – and evidence to be found somewhere on a USB stick – “we have found in his office a Nunchaku and a copy of the The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich” by William Shirer.

“I think they have the right to come back and say that “this accusation is supported by these facts”…”

Worth noting is also the following comment:

Superann probably refers to the following letter dated 20 November 2015 addressed by BB to the Member of Parliament who represents the French expats in the national assembly, Pierre-Yves Le Borgn’, with copy to the Minister of Economy Emmanuel Macron:

http://www.pyleborgn.eu/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/R%C3%A9ponse-Pr%C3%A9sident-OEB.pdf

In this letter BB accuses the Member of the Board of Appeal, amongst other misconducts, of having stored arms and nazy propoganda in his room (see page 2, 3rd paragraph). These are the very accusations for which the in its recent decision stated that they were not based on any evidence whatsoever.
In support of his argumentation, BB also refers to recent press articles annexed to his letter, such as the paid-for article in EPO´s “media partner” Les Echos.

Yesterday we explained why Les Échos is not credible on these matters and we are going to revisit this subject very soon. It acts as a source of ‘placements’; it’s not real journalism if it censors its own reporters on behalf of so-called 'media partners' like the EPO.

As another comment put it: “So BB is writing letters to MPs including articles stating that the AC decided to dismiss a BoA member? Unbelievable!”

Well, this will be the subject of our next post. Nobody is getting dismissed.

“Great talker, great liar.”

French Proverb

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