A 1911 Industrial Worker publication advocating industrial unionism (unedited original is in the public domain)
Summary: The interests of Europe, historically a beacon of innovation, are being jeopardised to give way for the interests of the rich and powerful, including foreign corporations/billionaires (along with lawyers whom they hire to help perpetuate their power)
OUR previous post spoke about patent trolls and software patents, which are closely connected in practice (statistically-meaningful supportive evidence does exist). We still worry — and apparently SUEPO does too — that patent scope at the EPO has gone awry and we believe that it will get a lot worse if (or when) UPC becomes a reality.
“The UPC would bring even more of them (patent lawyers, patent thickets, patent trolls) to Europe. “We couldn’t help but notice that in Europe too patent trolls are becoming a problem and they utilise software patents. The UPC would bring even more of them (patent lawyers, patent thickets, patent trolls) to Europe. It would be a bureaucratic mess. Some people make a lot of money from such a mess, as do military contractors at times of war and conflict, even just tensions (catalysing proactive armament, akin to patent stockpiling).
Patent lawyers from Marks & Clerk have just published (today) an article in which they try to study how to overcome those ‘pesky’ boards when it comes to patenting. The boards, including the Enlarged Board, sometimes help squash software patents. Marks & Clerk (also today) gives tips for tricking/fooling the judges. Meanwhile, in another example form today, other patent lawyers want and pursue the UPC because they gain from it at the expense of the European public. Watch how they’re jumping the gun ahead of the European public even voting on it:
The Eversheds UPC team attended a teach-in session in Luxembourg on 17 November 2015 with the providers of the UPC Case Management System (“UPC CMS”), which is currently in alpha testing.
There will soon be an EPO-sponsored pro-UPC event in the US and this new softball (questions) interview with Battistelli is UPC promotion as well. As one person put it: “The section on the Boards of Appeal, in particular, is full of what can only be described as complete and utter rubbish” (not just that section, but it’s behind a paywall, at least from here).
This is a truly shameless attack on democracy. It’s the patent microcosm that’s conspiring to make it so, usually behind closed doors, for its own selfish interests. Incidentally, the statement from the Council has just been published and it says that it “again expressed concern about the deteriorated social climate and called for initiatives and genuine efforts from all parties involved to seek compromise solutions to end a situation detrimental to the proper functioning of the Office and the public image of the whole Organisation.” Well, no wonder; it’s self-inflicted.
As one new comment there put it:
I am struck by the exhortations in the Communique for “compromise” on all sides. More useless hand-wringing and more futile expressions of disappointment.
I defer to commentators here with better inside knowledge than me, but I wonder, do general readers (or even the political masters of those who sit on the EPO’s AC) realise how remote the EPO is from the Rule of Law, when it comes to disciplinary proceedings against EPO employees?
As I understand it, any unfortunate employee who comes to the attention of the authorities in Eponia faces disciplinary proceedings in which the EPO President is the prosecuting entity. Not only that, the President’s men form the tribunal that hears the case and passes judgement on it. Not only that though. It is the President that enforces the judgement.
And if the President of Eponia does not like the judgement, he is free to ignore it, re-write it, and enforce the judgement as re-written to his liking. There’s nobody (except the AC) to stop him.
Here in Germany, there are great expectations placed on adults, to set a good example to the children. Woe betide anybody who zips across a street in the presence of little children, before the pedestrian traffic light has switched from a little red man to a little green man. Rules are to be obeyed, not broken. Officious bystanders do more than wring their hands. They inform the police that you have committted an offence.
But whenever there are no Rules, why then you can behave as you like. Speed down the 2-lane Autobahn A 92 to Deggendorf at 250 km/h? Even when the inside lane is full of slow-moving traffic and the road is greasy. No problem!
So imagine The President’s Chief General Counsel, his German Consigliere, Herr Lutz, giving advice to his boss, whispering in his ear. Boss, ignore the AC. You break no law, you offend no Rule. There are no police. Ergo, you do no wrong and there is nothing to stop you continuing, boss, to your heart’s content.
In truth, the only thing that can stop the reckless vehicle is the AC. And all the AC seems capable of doing is wringing its hands and calling on the parties to “compromise”. Is that the best they can do? Is that all they’ve got? The faceless members of the AC ought to be ashamed of themselves.
As for the political masters of the AC members, politicians have this great ability to see things in a way that no shame ever attaches to them. They all fancy themselves as Teflon Tony. They distance themselves, don’t they, and deny any responsibility.
On mainland Europe, nobody understands the English notion of equity/fairness. English readers just do not grasp how offensive it is to the Rule of Law, what goes on inside the EPO. The villain is a Frenchman that looks like Napoleon Bonaparte and the season of pantomime is upon us. When the English yellow press runs the story though, it will be another reason for English voters to decide to walk away from the EU.
Patent examiners ought to realise (at least reevaluate or reassess) their role in this cross-national system. They can use their knowledge and influence to steer patent policy in a sane direction, e.g. to maximise health (e.g. saving lives in poor economies), class-agnostic commonwealth, and innovation. Patent examiners don’t work in a production/assembly line (should not be treated as such either) and if they act as public servants in a public service, then the collective interests of Europe — not those of some large foreign corporations — should always be paramount. If Battistelli and his goons stand in the way, get rid of them. █
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Those seeking to perpetually maximise the scope of patents are now on the retreat
Limits exist for a reason
Summary: Patent news from India, Australia, and the United States (the Eastern Texas district in particular), where parasites insist that when it comes to patents more is necessarily better
LEAVING the EPO aside for a moment, we now have time to cover the latest news about software patents in India, in Australia, and in the US. There is a worrisome growing movement, led to a large degree by large US multinationals (monopolistic corporations). It’s a distinguishable lobbying movement which is trying not just to preserve software patents in the US but also expand these to every country on this planet. It’s very clear to see what they are hoping to achieve and this has nothing to do with innovation, just protectionism and power.
“This is great for Indian software companies.”As mentioned here in recent days [1, 2], opponents of software patents now celebrate somewhat of a temporary/conditional win because, to quote the corporate media in India (Economic Times), “India’s patent office has put on hold guidelines that would have allowed patenting of software, a move being hailed as a big win for domestic startups.
“Indian law on granting patents for software is a gray area. In August, the Indian Patent Office interpreted the law to mean that if a software had industrial applications it could be granted a patent.”
“The lobbyists of the likes of IBM and Microsoft won’t be happy about it; neither will their patent lawyers.”The war is not over, but opponents of software patents bought some time and it seems apparent that their arguments are gaining traction among Indian politicians. This is great for Indian software companies. The lobbyists of the likes of IBM and Microsoft won’t be happy about it; neither will their patent lawyers.
Speaking of patent lawyers (parasites in the area of patents and often the couriers of large corporations with monopolies to protect), watch what patent lawyers based in Australia write about patent scope today [1, 2]. They are clearly upset that it’s not easy to patent software and “computer-implemented business methods” — whatever this may actually be (a combination of two controversial patent domains a la Bilski case). They’re whining about this down under in Australia. Curiously enough, no software developers who are Australian seem to worry; that’s because they don’t want such patents.
“Curiously enough, no software developers who are Australian seem to worry; that’s because they don’t want such patents.”In other patent news, two patent aggressors, Apple and Ericsson [1, 2], decided to stop fighting. As WIPR put it (based on this original statement):
Technology companies Ericsson and Apple have agreed to settle all outstanding patent litigation.
In an announcement today, December 21, both parties said they have inked a global cross-licensing agreement that covers standard-essential patents (SEP) owned by Ericsson and Apple and “certain other patent rights”.
Further details of the agreement were not disclosed, but both parties confirmed the deal will last for seven years.
Ericsson has been using patent trolls as satellites or proxies — a fact that we have supported/backed with extensive evidence in many of our previous articles (even years ago). Speaking of patent trolls, they too have a lot worry about right now. Over in Texas, the breeding ground of patent trolls, not only was the troll known as eDekka [1, 2, 3] stopped but it was also forced to pay. As Boing Boing put it: “The plaintiff-friendly East Texas district has long been patent trolls’ favorite place to file lawsuits, but one was so egregious that even their favorite judge has not only shut it down, but awarded costs against them.”
“It shouldn’t be overlooked that the large majority of patent trolls are using software patents.”WIPR wrote that the “US District Court for the Eastern District of Texas has dealt a new blow to licensing company eDekka, ruling that a claim for a patent covering a computer storage system, which it asserted against more than 200 companies, was “objectively unreasonable”.”
The EFF has meanwhile asked the court to extend such judgments, saying in its announcement: “Getting a patent demand letter from a troll can be a scary experience. The letters often include a lot of legal jargon, not to mention a patent that is often impenetrable (at least, not without hiring an expensive lawyer to translate it for you).
“But suppose you are concerned that the patent may impact your business. After trying to reach an agreement with the patent owner and failing, you may be told by your lawyer that the next step is to go to court.”
It shouldn’t be overlooked that the large majority of patent trolls are using software patents. By eliminating software patents we can actually help stop a lot of the trolls. Obsessing over trolls alone sometimes misses the point. We’ve repeatedly stressed this key point for at least half a decade now. █
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Summary: A dissection and annotation of the communiqué from ‘President’s office’, which took a rather hostile (compared to previous) Council’s stance and turned it into a shameless self-promotion opportunity
THE EPO is trying to lull the staff into the illusion that everything is great (and improving) at the EPO. The reality is pretty grim and things are getting worse.
“For something which Junge Welt or its big sister Neues Deutschland could have printed,” said one of our readers, “have a look at the internal EPO communiqué issued after the AC meeting. There were over the week-end a few comments on IPkat referring to that masterpiece.
“Maybe Mr. President is ‘pulling a Merpel’ and refers himself as a third person now.”“The last line with the time and date of the communiqué is missing, but I’m told that it was issued this time by “President’s office” instead of the “President” as is usually the case and that it was issued Friday.”
Maybe Mr. President is ‘pulling a Merpel’ and refers himself as a third person now. We don’t know if that’s significant, but it does seem to suggest a change of narrative, as if the word “Battistelli” is now actively avoided and rather than present the words as its own it’s just others alluding to “the President”.
At Techrights we more or less know everything that happened at the meetings. Last week did a lot of coverage before, throughout, and after the Administrative Council sessions.
The official announcement from Battistelli’s side (with our comments on them) was as follows:
News from the Administrative Council
The 146th AC meeting was held on the 16 and 17 December in Munich
The President of the Office presented his report summarising the activities and results of 2015, underlining in particular the increase in production, productivity, quality and the successful implementation of the new career system.
Why say “production, productivity” when both mean pretty much the same thing? Besides, how does one measure “production” when it comes to the granting of patents? It’s an intangible monopoly. As we noted here a few months ago, using factory or assembly line terminology does not help. It may, in practice, serve to discredit the Office. If production means number of patents granted/processed (as is the case in the USPTO where there is an incentive to grants patent and it shows), then what does that really mean? Lower standards and poorer quality control? How can production be compared year-to-year when new domains are considered patentable, e.g. patents on plants? Or when there is an acceleration programme for large companies that submit applications in bulk?
Mr. President (well, now referring to himself as a third person for a change, because the “me/I/mine” narcissism isn’t PR-smart, now it’s “President’s office”) also uses the word “quality”. Well, try telling European Parliament, which is openly complaining [1, 2], that opening the floodgates to patenting of seeds means increased “quality”.
What Mr. President brought to the EPO is neither production [sic] nor quality. He doesn't even seem to know that Apple's EPO patents turned out to be bogus patents.
Mr. President offered nothing but declining quality, broadening scope, and increased (artificially) numbers, proportional to the two former aspects (inversely proportional to quality and proportional to scope).
Rather than say “production, productivity, quality” why not just say something like “paging through more distinct applications (like in a paper factory), increasing the variety of papers on one’s desk”? It doesn’t help, does it? It only assures lower quality production [sic] with a higher error rates. It isn’t even a case of multitasking or peer review; it’s just a case of working under increased pressure to meet (or beat) targets irrespective of accuracy. The EPO is going to pay the price each time a patent that it granted is found invalid during court proceedings.
What Mr. President refers to as “successful implementation of the new career system” is quite laughable given what we’ve learned from sources over the past couple of years. Notice that Mr. President does not say “successful new career system”, he says “successful implementation of the new career system”. Imposed, top-down implementation is what was “successful”. To give an example, think of Stalin’s “successful implementation of famine in Ukraine” (Holodomor).
The finalisation of all the preparatory work for the unitary patent was also highlighted as a landmark achievement, after decades of discussions and negotiations.
Not everyone agrees with us about the UPC, but we have written many dozens of articles on this subject (readers can find such articles going many years back). Who does the unitary patent really serve? It would make a lot of people all across Europe redundant (the boards are rightly worried) while making it easier for large multinational companies such as Apple to embargo rival products (mostly Android) Europe-wide, in one fell swoop. UPC means more litigation with broader scope for injunctions and higher damages. It also paves the way to cross-Atlantic (or Pacific) unifications that can, in due course, augment patent scope, thus making patent quality even poorer.
If UPC is as great as the EPO’s management repeatedly claims (even threating its critics), how come it needs to spend so much money on pro-UPC propaganda? Watch the reputation laundering of Battistelli in Wikipedia (there is an edits war over the criticisms, with experts involved in watering down promotional UPC language), including the part which says: “Under Battistelli’s tenure, the EPO has played an important role in the preparatory work for the introduction of the unitary patent, which has yet to come into existence.”
The President was joined by many delegations in warmly congratulating both the staff and management
See what’s wrong here? A false, superficial division between “staff” and “management”. It’s as though there’s a false dichotomy here and you can be either staff or management (but not both). Mr. President, who are you working for? Who pays your salary? Actually, what is your salary anyway? Unlike your predecessor, Brimelow (see old EPO CV), you actively refuse to disclose your salary. So much for transparency…
who can be proud of the exceptional results obtained in many fields over the year.
Result? 3 staff representatives suspended. As well as one judge. Not to mention the brain drain…
These are the outcome (or result) of Mr. President’s pure genius. He battles against staff rather than cooperate and coexist. Typical of people from his school.
On the social situation, the different stakeholders were asked to reinforce their efforts to improve the social dialogue. In this regard, the finalisation of the on-going negotiations about the recognition of trade unions within EPO legal framework is seen as an important step forward.
Put in simple English, Team Battistelli was asked to stop crushing the unions (we covered this last week). It’s not clear whether Team Battistelli consented to this or just saved face at the time. It often seems as though the Council is the one pushing for better “social dialogue” (a euphemism that merit its own debate), whereas Team Battistelli is backstabbling those whom it claims to engage in “social dialogue” with.
Battistelli and/or his team (referring to him as a third person) speaks about “recognition of trade unions within EPO legal framework is seen as an important step forward.” Well, well…
Based on documents we saw, Team Battistelli does exactly the opposite. A lot of staff can already see this in the communiqué titled "Your Rights". The very right to join a union is being challenged while those who recruit members have come under unprecedented attacks.
Battistelli is either a two-faced liar or has successfully deluded himself into the idea that he is a tolerant social dialoguer [sic].
As is customary for the December AC session, the main item on the agenda was the presentation of EPO yearly budget. The 2016 budget, which amounts to €2.1 billion was unanimously approved by the AC.
It’s more of a must-pass provision, isn’t it? It’s like NDAA or the Omnibus in the United States’ Congress. This shouldn’t be framed as some kind of mastery of negotiability.
The excellent performance in 2015 of the Office supported the proposal of the President to transfer €200 million to the pension reserve fund – without any contribution from the staff – thereby reinforcing the sustainability of the pension system.
That’s complete nonsense and almost every EPO employee can explain why. It’s a reused talking point which, left unchallenged, threatens to bamboozle journalists. We wrote about it quite recently, back when Battistelli was trying to appease staff one day after massive protests in Munich.
Another proposal aiming at better controlling the adequate level of reimbursement of national taxation of pensions was not supported by the AC, with some delegations expressing their opposition against the principle of the reimbursement of national taxations.
Is it widely known by now that EPO staff has salaries taxed at several levels and slashed to a lot less than publicly advertised? Are the loopholes and caveats when it comes to pension rights widely understood? Media coverage suggests not. Each time Team Battistelli is confronted with claims of serious abuses it just reverts back to the talking point about money, painting staff as greedy and EPO as generous (citing the on-paper salaries and mere promises of a pension).
The different adjustments of salary and allowances, and the new contribution rates for the pension and long-term care insurance schemes were approved by the AC. Two amendments in the Service Regulations, related to the length of mandates of the EPO’s joint statutory bodies and to the duration of the suspension from service of an employee, were also widely supported.
They omit the fact that suspension duration was extended. They just say “amendment” and lump together two separate things. Is this a coincidence? Probably just hogwash. This in itself is an attack on the unions. It’s also a warning sign to any whisleblowers or accused whisleblowers.
A joint note of the President and AC Chairman presenting the features of a comprehensive social study was appreciated by the delegations. The study will be launched in 2016, in parallel with a financial study. The results of both studies, which will be commissioned to external consultancy firms, are expected to be available for summer 2016. They will help to take stock of the progress achieved so far by the Office and to define the possible ways forward.
Anything like this propaganda? Commissioned by the EPO, can it possibly show any negatives? What kind of ‘study’ is this? More like lipstick on the pig. Calling it “social study” (social sounds great) rather than shameless-self promotion or even marketing comes to show the degree of newspeak adopted by the EPO.
Finally, the possible orientations on a structural reform of the Boards of Appeal were deemed to need further consideration and will be addressed again in 2016.
So they’re left in a limbo. Great, eh? More uncertainty is likely to just convince more members to leave, without openings being advertised for replacements. Killing them softly.
The periodical review of the financial regulations, including the new rules for the procurement process, was also adopted.
Speaking of procurement, what ever happened to all that IT budget? There is little or no supervision at the EPO. What was left of it got crushed, shut down, or co-opted. There are no independent external entities examining what’s going on inside the EPO. █
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Trust permanently lost because of foolish actions by the management
Summary: An anonymous letter to French national parliament reveals the level of distrust and disgust inside the EPO, where people no longer trust anyone
THE EPO has an atmosphere of revolt and based on comments we have been seeing, after the Control Risks fiasco examiners rightly assume that everything may be under surveillance at any time.
“Overworked people don’t always find the time to speak about their employer, especially when their employer makes them extremely overworked before Christmas.”Weeks ago we asked for a translation of a letter in French. Three people have offered a translation, but one beat the others to it. “I’m also surprised that the Exasperated examiners piece still isn’t translated,” wrote one of those three people, “I’ll see what I can do, perhaps between Xmas and New-year’s eve. But, hey, no promises.”
Overworked people don’t always find the time to speak about their employer, especially when their employer makes them extremely overworked before Christmas. Incidentally, the above person definitely does not work for the EPO. There are just a lot of people out there who are genuinely worried about the EPO.
Having published the original in French (sent to French politicians by examiners, not by a politician as we had thought because we lack the French polyglots), now we have the translation (with emphasis in larger fonts) below:
Munich, 30th of November 2015
FRENCH NATIONAL PARLIAMENT
For the attention of Mr. Le Borgn’, MP
Rue de l’Université 126
75355 Paris 07
Dear Member of the Parliament,
First let us express our gratitude for your courageous stances and your actions to restore justice and morality in the European Patent Office.
“The accusations raised by the Office do not seem at all to rely on solid grounds, and were formally refuted by German lawyers.”Twice already the Administrative Council of the Office asked President Battistelli to resume a social dialogue. His answer was the obviously unjustified layoff of three elected leaders of our union, the SUEPO. Investigations were initiated against them. The accusations raised by the Office do not seem at all to rely on solid grounds, and were formally refuted by German lawyers. Legal sources mentioned by the Office are currently unknown and questionable, to say the least. No credible counterarguments seem to have been presented which would defeat the conclusions made by the SUEPO lawyers. In The Hague, members of the SUEPO and Staff Representatives were also subjected to interrogations where they had to endure an unacceptable psychological stress. In a letter sent you, President Battistelli says that these sessions were recorded. A question immediately arises: what is the legality of such recordings? The investigative units assigned to these investigations and interrogations have an unacceptable inquisitorial power, completely outside the framework of ethics and legal guarantees of security applying to their citizens in modern European democracies.
“It is time to put an end to this culture of contempt of staff and that the Administrative Council finally makes its voice heard in this direction.”Through these SUEPO leaders, 7000 EPO officials are offended by the actions of President Battistelli. Within two hours, a demonstration was organized gathering 2000 people in front of the “Isar” building, the Office headquarters. Given the number of employees in Munich, this is huge .. and of course this is what President Battistelli probably will still dare to call “a minority”. Indignation and disgust are at their pinnacle. It is time to put an end to this culture of contempt of staff and that the Administrative Council finally makes its voice heard in this direction.
We are tired of being treated like the livestock of President Battistelli. We all graduated from the most prestigious schools and universities, and many of our colleagues are holders of a doctoral degree. Most of them came from industry, where they held responsibility or management positions. They could certainly provide the Office managers with useful lessons and actually teach them good practices in this area.
“It should come as no surprise that, in this toxic environment, disillusioned colleagues react more and more by “internal resignation” and some have already expressed that, in morning, it is with hatred to their employer that they walk through the doors of the Office.”Full of fear and suspicion, the working atmosphere is more than sinister. Who in this Office has further confidence in their computer or copy machines, sometimes even in their colleagues? We have come to distrust the available phones in our offices so much that, to communicate on the most trivial subjects, our colleagues use their cellular phones, not without having cast a sweeping glance around them to ensure that their conversation is not heard. The trust has completely disappeared in the relationships between employees and management hierarchy: wrongly or rightly, we are constantly afraid of being victims of a dirty trick. It should come as no surprise that, in this toxic environment, disillusioned colleagues react more and more by “internal resignation” and some have already expressed that, in morning, it is with hatred to their employer that they walk through the doors of the Office.
With the greatest concern, we note that intimidation measures to journalists or “bloggers” are orchestrated by the Office, and are mentioned in the “Net”, see for instance,
This source, as well as internal reliable informations, appear to clearly indicate that the Office has now released a budget of around €800,000 for press campaigns. How and for what purposes these considerable amounts of public money will be used? This question does not appear to be of concern to the Administrative Council. The management of the Office is not reluctant to drag through the mud staff members who express a dissenting opinion, especially in the case of trade union officials or staff representation. Would be the next step to muzzle the press and silence critics through campaigns of slander and intimidation, or abuse of European Justice Courts to achieve these ends?
“Would be the next step to muzzle the press and silence critics through campaigns of slander and intimidation, or abuse of European Justice Courts to achieve these ends?”We would like to sign this letter of our real names, but alas! You are aware that the Office has won the services of the disturbing firm “Control Risks”, apparently involved in a number of scandals concerning illegal spying on journalists, customers and employees in German firms. The fear that, being known, we could be the victims of an implacable revenge is well founded.
The Office must respect Law and Justice as they exist in modern European democracies. We do not want more than the restoration of our rights and respect for our honour.
One of the three people who offered this translation (there are more translations from French on their way) said: “you were awaiting the translation of a letter in French addressed to an MP. Here is the translation. As always the translation might not be perfect and my apologies for the poor formatting. Thanks again for all the good work.” We made very slight (trivial) amendment to the text above. If there are errors in it, please point them out in the comments below.
Now that we can read the above letter (and have published its translation) we can clearly see that Battistelli’s intimidation/silencing attempts against the member of parliament only brought out the worse of him. Moreover, it made staff of the EPO even more angry. That’s Streisand Effect. █
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