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12.19.15

Rumour: Administrative Council Advises Benoît Battistelli Not to Fire Staff Representatives

Posted in Europe, Patents, Rumour at 8:00 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Battistelli may risk losing his job if he sacks Ms. Hardon, Ms. Weaver and/or Mr. Brumme

SUEPO reps

Summary: New rumours about Benoît Battistelli’s union-busting efforts, new complaints to the EPO about traffic floods (possibly caused by its censorship Bluecoat appliance), and fresh complaints sent to the Administrative Council

“Now BB [Benoît Battistelli] has allegedly been advised by the AC,” said a comment this morning, “not to fire the suspended staff reps. He does not usually take this sort of advice. However, I wonder whether, in case that BB fires them despite this advice, the AC will prosecute then the charges of institutionalised abuse put before the AC by the staff rep in question.” (some typos corrected)

“I gave the network administrators enough time to respond and preferably take action.”This would certainly be quite a breakthrough given other rumours or speculations we have been hearing after the Administrative Council's sessions (some said that Hardon would be sacked imminently).

Incidentally, yesterday I reported to the EPO’s relevant people (admin_network@epo.org, jbielsa@epo.org, nderuiter@epo.org, wherler@epo.org, and ywoue@epo.org) abuse by its IP addresses (i.e. computers) against my site. I gave the network administrators enough time to respond and preferably take action. Here is what I wrote in the early hours:

Subject: Network abuse

Dear Network Administrators at the EPO,

Please be aware that IP addresses belonging to the EPO have been abusing my site, techrights.org, for a continued length of time, despite techrights.org reportedly being blocked from your network. This week, for instance, 145.64.134.245, has been quite busy hammering on the site and last night I had to ban it for nearly 200 attempts against Varnish in a very short period of time (just over a minute).

I don’t know if you are using a bot to access the site and I don’t know if there is an exclusion to the ban inside the Investigative Unit, which has engaged in some truly atrocious (and possible illegal) union-busting actions as of late.

I ask you politely to stop the offending addresses from effectively staging digital attacks or floods or my site. If I do not hear from any of you by 5 PM CET today, I shall escalate to the suitable European authorities and may pursue even further action.

These floods have been going on for literally months and they are becoming an embarrassment to your institution. I am eager to contact journalists regarding this matter unless this matter comes to a close by the end of the working day.

Kind regards,

Roy

Deadline was reached within more than half a (working) day, but no action was taken, so I ended up escalating. How does one respond to an organisation which is effectively above the law though? Well, perhaps the only way is to speak to those capable of taking action against the EPO. That’s Administrative Council delegates.

I sent the following message to some prominent delegates the same evening:

Subject: Abuses by EPO Against Bloggers

Dear European representative,

I am writing to you with the kindest of intentions, for serious problems arose at the European Patent Office and these affect me personally. For a number of years, as a software professional in the UK, I have been writing critically about the EPO, whereupon EPO simply banned my site (inaccessible to EPO workers), later threatened to sue me (widely reported on in the mass media because they were not even legally capable of suing), and right now IP addresses belonging to the EPO digitally vandalise my site by overwhelming it with automated requests (this has gone on for quite a while). They have, in essence, launched an assault on access to information itself. They actively threaten staff that speaks to the media about abuses and 3 months ago the EPO secretly signed an (almost) $1,000,000 1-year contract with the infamous Washington-based FTI Consulting for reputation laundering in the media. They actively try to prevent the public from finding out about a queue-hopping programme (for selected large corporations that submit patent applications), among many more scandals which serve to deny the illusion of EPO “success” and “growth”.

European delegates are the last resort now, as the EPO enjoys a controversial immunity that emboldens for abuse and disregard for European laws.

After repeated DDOS (distributed denial of service) attacks on my site I implemented some defenses and found that IP addresses belonging to the EPO are among the culprits. I reported this to the EPO, but they are not taking action to stop this. I asked them politely earlier today (message sent to their network administrators and is guaranteed to have been received), but no action has been taken, so I have to conclude this may all be intentional or that low-level staff is simply too afraid to intervene, having seen the extreme actions taken by management when any morsel of dissent/discontent was shown. The EPO has already threatened delegates, politicians, staff representatives, lawyers of staff representatives, and even journalists or bloggers.

I kindly ask you to put restraints on these practices and respond to unlawful behaviour by the EPO, not just directed at EPO staff but also at outsiders. The EPO rapidly became an embarrassment to Europe as a whole and it is consequently jeopardising unity inside the European Union, which I wholeheartedly support.

My sincere regards,

Dr. Roy Schestowitz

We don’t know if the message sent to selected delegates caused some kind of new contact between them and the EPO.

“We don’t know if the message sent to selected delegates caused some kind of new contact between them and the EPO.”To better understand what was likely hammering on our server we asked someone who may be familiar with the insides of the EPO network, whereupon we learned that “all internal EPO users, examiners etc., when they access the Internet, are routed through a PROXY! [...] In the techrights case it can be the case that so many examiners are currently trying to access your page, and that the Bluecoat appliance [believed to be in use] not only blocks the users from accessing techrights but also pings techrights, which causes a lot of traffic to your pages, but does not bring contents to the internal users. So it may be that it is not a DDOS but a side effect of (blocked for the internal users, by Bluecoat) accesses in the internal EPO network to your pages (but each try-access is sending a request to your server).”

Either way, the EPO should get its Bluecoat appliance under control. According to an RSF report (which we cited back in March), “American Company Blue Coat, specialized in online security, is best known for its Internet censorship equipment. This equipment also allows for the supervision of journalists, netizens and their sources. Its censorship devices use Deep Packet Inspection, a technology employed by many western Internet Service Providers to manage network traffic and suppress unwanted connections.”

What does that say about the real ‘enemies’ of EPO management?

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