12.09.15

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An Introduction and an Overview of European Patent Office (EPO) Scandals

Posted in Europe, Patents at 10:43 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

A view from above, in layman’s terms

A lighthouse

Summary: A beginner’s guide to the EPO crisis, which is basically an altercation/quarrel between the assets of the office, highly knowledgeable patent examiners, and those assigned to manage them, only to pursue completely orthogonal goals that are clearly detrimental to Europe

THIS concise article assumes that the reader has no prior knowledge about the EPO scandals, or that only the EPO’s misleading narrative has been thus far accepted as fact. Links are intentionally omitted so as to make this article self-contained.

The European Patent Office, or EPO (not to be confused with the drug), is a multinational organisation whose members are mostly EU states. EPO staff is located primarily at the centre of Europe although the staff comes from a wide range of places (EPO members). Due to the way the EPO was set up more than 40 years ago — predating the European Union by several decades — no single country’s laws apply. This means that human rights and various protections are unexplored territory, which in practice means that the EPO’s administration can neglect staff’s health (as it does), ignore court rulings (as has become very notorious a point), chill freedom of speech, and lobby politicians without any apparent restrictions.

The EPO enjoys a monopoly in Europe. It is supposed to be a benevolent monopoly, but in practice it has gone rogue. Rather than adhere to public interests when it comes to patent scope, the EPO now operates like a private business and seeks to maximise profit. It means that patent scope has gone off the rails and to make matters worse, incestuous relationships between large international companies and EPO management have developed, leading to unequal service to different applicants. Some receive preferential treatment, whereas others suffer neglect, with applications taking even more than a decade before being handled.

The EPO practices gross censorship and intimidation against critics. Its grossly overpaid (and at times under-qualified, chosen based on nepotism) managerial staff staged a de facto coup. It now repels, discourages, and even ejects anyone who is even remotely sceptical of the management’s choices, often made in secret without public scrutiny being even tolerated.

The patterns of the EPO’s abuses are overwhelmingly detrimental to those who help sponsor it.

First, the EPO allows applicants to receive abstract patents, patents on life, etc. and it generally blurs the gap between European patent regulations and those from the United States, often to the benefit of foreign corporations with highly dubious ethical standards. Patent maximalism, which is further facilitated by a systemic hogwash or synthesis, threatens to bring patent trolls (non-practising litigious firms) to Europe, essentially taxing everything, to the detriment of every single ‘consumer’ in Europe.

Second, the EPO disregards human rights, especially in its pursuit of the objectives above. Repressions inside and outside the EPO include institutional abuse and violation of the EPO’s own rules, censorship of the media, alleged DDOS attacks (technical or physical) against critics, legal bullying against critics, and illegal surveillance on staff and visitors, not to mention on journalists. These are the hallmarks of imperialistic regimes.

Third, in order to control everything and everyone by fear, the EPO openly demonstrates its maniacal tendencies and makes an example of scapegoats inside and outside the organisation. Staff suicides are a likely outcome of these maniacal moves, crushing of protests is a de facto standard (in spite of EU laws), union-busting is now taken for granted (with the helping hand of private firms from the outside), and there is not even due process. The management of the EPO, which has become a cabal surrounding the megalomaniac President, is systematically abolishing workers’ rights and acts like an absolute power (a state within the state of Germany for the most part). The President is the judge, the jury, and the executioner. In order to secure this unacceptable state of affairs, the management insists on ignoring court orders, crushing oversight or critical (of the management) branches like the boards, tightening the relationship with the Administrative Council by means of entryism (even accepting into its ranks people who are alleged to have bribed, and even worse), character assassination or defamation of (typically anonymous) critics, and disseminating propaganda or misinformation in the media (sometimes literally paying the media or paying vast amounts of money to PR agencies).

To EPO insiders, the EPO seems almost unstoppable. No matter how many abuses the management resorts to, it’ll always get away with them. The EPO’s workers, therefore, harnesses power in numbers, in spite of the management’s relentless efforts to crush anyone who dares organise the staff for direct action.

Staff complains about the above points, as well as monetary waste, nepotism in top-level appointments, conflicts of interest, and so on. All of these crises put not only the management at risk but also threaten the reputation and the status of the EPO itself, hence the jobs of patent examiners. It is clear that the goal of the angry staff is to actually save the EPO and salvage its reputation, whereas the existing management is just looking after its own interests, hence it is working hard to silence and suppress the staff.

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2 Comments

  1. Dr.Guinness said,

    December 10, 2015 at 5:38 am

    Gravatar

    Another nice overview paying much attention to suicide is given in:
    http://www.politico.eu/article/labor-relations-turn-toxic-in-the-european-patent-office/ “Five suicides in less than four years within an organization of 7,000, on the face of it, appears high and warrants investigation” — Expert on suicidal behavior. Several experts on suicidal behavior were contacted. Two described the figures as high and supported an investigation.

    Another article titeled Germans Too Quiet About Suicide is worth to read. http://www.dw.com/en/germans-too-quiet-about-suicide/a-1757634 To avoid more catastrophes people inside the EPO should keep an eye on eachother. Look in time for help!

    In my opinion an independent external investigation is urgently necessary.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Exposing the nature of bogus internal ‘investigations’ will hopefully help motivate outside investigators.

    I (relatively) recently got a lot of mail from a UN whistleblower who also was driven towards suicidal tendencies (never found the time to cover it) and when reading a lot of what I do about staff representatives I cannot help but think of Aaron Swartz.

    How many people need to die before Team Battistelli is stopped?

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