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12.22.15

Translation of the Latest Communiqué About the Administrative Council, No Longer Published by ‘President’

Posted in Europe, Patents at 9:50 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Damage control

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:

Home->Organisation->News->2015

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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