Benoît Battistelli Fails to Get Majority of 38 Member States to Crush the Boards, Which Are Already Being Crushed Anyway (23 Vacant Judge Positions)
Benoît Battistelli is cooking up his own Watergate scandal
Summary: A translation of the recent JUVE article, which explains just to what degree Battistelli’s EPO effectively shuts down boards, with or without consent from national delegates
“JUVE is a publication specialising in information on and for corporate law specialists,” told us one reader, offering a JUVE article translation. “The expression “Schöne Bescherung” in the title,” this reader said, is actually a pun which “could also be taken to figuratively mean “A fine mess” instead of “Merry Christmas”.
“A bit of the AC communiqué is cited in the Article in German translation. I translated it back in English, without attempting to see how it read like originally. I didn’t bother looking up the original.”
Here is the translation with bits highlighted:
Merry Christmas: EPO President loses the support of the Administrative Council for his court reform
The reform which is supposed to provide more independence for the Boards of Appeal of the European Patent Office (EPO) is further delayed. According to several converging reports close to the Munich patent authority, the Administrative Council is pursuing a new reform proposition since last week. The office’s supervisory body would have also refused to approve the original reform plan put forward by Benoît Battistelli. The Administrative Council had been considered until now as the power base of the controversial EPO President.
“The Administrative Council had been considered until now as the power base of the controversial EPO President.”Battistelli proposed back in March a stricter separation of the Boards of Appeal from the Office. The Boards of Appeal, which is the name by which the authority’s own courts are known, review oppositions against the grant of European patents by the office. The courts are however subordinated to the Office. The reform became necessary as critics became louder regarding the close integration of the Boards in the office’s structure, and the resulting doubts cast on their independence.
Battistelli wants a structural separation between the Boards of Appeal and the Office by making these directly subordinated to the Administrative Council. They are to have their own president, who would take over essential administrative functions and disciplinary powers over the staff. He would also report to a newly created Board of Appeal Committee (BOAC). The president would however retain his influence over the court’s budget.
“The necessary majority of the 38 member states of the European Patent Organisation was not reached, according to circles close to the Boards of Appeal.”Battistelli was apparently unable to find acceptance for his proposal after one year of consultations and a user poll. JUVE learned that a vote took place at the ultimate 2015 meeting of the Administrative Council. The necessary majority of the 38 member states of the European Patent Organisation was not reached, according to circles close to the Boards of Appeal. The EPO did not reply to requests for confirmation made by JUVE. A press release of the Administrative Council published yesterday stated however: “The Council conducted an exchange of opinions on the planned structural reform of the EPO Boards of Appeals. It mandated its Praesidium with the drafting of guidelines, from which the President of the Office will derive concrete proposals. If possible, these will be submitted as a resolution for adoption at the March 2016 meeting.” The Administrative Council thus took away the control over the reform process away from Battistelli’s hands. JUVE learned from reliable sources that resistance in the Administrative Council was particularly strong from the German, Dutch and Swiss delegations.
“JUVE learned from reliable sources that resistance in the Administrative Council was particularly strong from the German, Dutch and Swiss delegations.”According to information available to JUVE, a new reform proposal was made, which aims for an even more independence. JUVE is however not in possession of the exact features of this proposal. Several reform attempts, including some put forward by the the Boards of Appeal themselves, strived in the past for a complete separation of the court using the German Federal Patents Court as a model.
Increasing pressure for the appointment of judges
There are also apparently developments in the question of the reappointment of the Members of the Boards of Appeal, as EPO-judges are officially called. The Administrative Council announced the reappointment of a member of the Enlarged Board of Appeal as well as of several members of Boards of Appeal. They are appointed for five year period. The process had come to a standstill in recent times. There are 23 vacant judge positions in the Boards, including 3 chairmen. The EPO President has the right to propose candidates for the filling of vacant posts. Critics reproached him repeatedly of retarding new appointments in order to trim the Boards of Appeal for more efficiency.
“There are 23 vacant judge positions in the Boards, including 3 chairmen.”According to information available to JUVE, the Administrative Council called on Battistelli to expedite new appointments. The EPO President declared in an interview with the US-magazine “Managing IP” his readiness to address this issue in the beginning of 2016. He added however that he saw now urgent necessity to make new appointments to Judge positions.
The question of the future location of the Boards of Appeal now appears to have become secondary. Berlin, Vienna and a different building in Munich had been discussed up to now. But in any case, a transfer to Vienna is considered by legal experts to be incompatible with the European Patent Convention, which limits seat locations for the EPO to Munich and The Hague. Vienna hosts only an information service of the Office. Berlin is considered as rather unpractical. Battistelli declared to “Managing IP” that it is more important for the Boards of Appeal to be located in premises other that the EPO building than in a different city in order for them to achieve the perception of their independence.
(Christina Schulze, Mathieu Klos)
It doesn’t seem to matter to Battistelli what the Administrative Council says; by failing to fill vacant positions he already does whatever he wants. No wonder one board judge dared to open his mouth and is alleged to have communicated with delegates (that’s his real ‘crime’). No wonder some among the delegates apparently chose to leak to us, seeing how Battistelli bullies delegates too.
Some believe that Battistelli isn’t interested in the boards’ independence; he’s just not interested in the boards at all and some say it’s because of the Unitary Patent. Incidentally, see this recent paper (letter) titled “Unitary Patent and the Pending Spanish Cases (C‑146/13; C-147/13): An Open Letter to the Judges of the European Union”. To quote the abstract (with our emphasis in bold): “This is a letter which is addressed to the judges of the European Union regarding the pending cases of [Spain v. Parliament and Council] that examine the validity of EU Regulation No 1257/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 December 2012 implementing enhanced cooperation in the area of the creation of unitary patent protection and that of EU Regulation No 1260/2012 of 17 December 2012 implementing enhanced cooperation in the area of the creation of unitary patent protection with regard to the applicable translation arrangements. It analyses the opinion of Attorney General Bot and, in particular, it focuses on i) the absence of judicial review of the European Patent Office, around which the EU Regulations revolve; ii) the underlying aim for uniform patent law, as envisaged in Article 118 TFEU, on which the EU Regulations rest; iii) the autonomy and uniformity of European Union law, as affected by the European Patent Office and the European Unified Patent Court; iv) the human rights implications involved.”
Is there someone left who can actually overthrow the tyrant, Benoît Battistelli, along with the Battistelli agenda? He clearly believes that he is above the law and it’s not hard to who he is working for. █