12.26.15

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Insensitivity at the EPO’s Management – Part III: Death in the Family

Posted in Europe, Patents at 7:39 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

EPO Till Death Do Us Part?

GraveSummary: Revisiting the bizarre attitude of the EPO towards the dead and the denial of basic rights to the dead (or surviving spouses)

Several of our past articles about EPO suicides, which are estimated to have grown tenfold, alluded to pensions and compensation to the spouses, as these crucial funds are said to have been withheld. What we know about it has been mostly based on hearsay or newspapers mentioning rumours, but nonetheless, there may be an element of truth to these rumours.

We were once again reminded of these rumours because of articles which talk about the ‘unwanted’ units being quietly dissolved (redundancies, layoffs), contrary to what seems to be imposed by the EPC. Having read a lot of articles and some legal documents we are starting to better understand what motivated at least some of these suicides. One comment from a couple of days ago said (context being the boards): “The same way the investigations into the suicides were stopped: by not paying the pensions. That is, even though illegal, a mighty good weapon in view of the fact that it takes 14 years to gain your case.”

To quote an older remark, “the widow and her children would be left without money and without social security for 8 years.

“This wife was desperate by the dead of her husband. She couldn´t face additional money problems and she had to cooperate with the EPO.”

Don’t worry about the jobs of EPO management, where there are third world countries' standards for appointing or sacking people. Regarding Battistelli et al one commenter joked: “Jobs for the in-laws, second cousins, and hairdressers of his garde rapprochée” (man of the house).

“one of those EPO examiners” wrote:

If I’d change [job] now, my worries would be to find an employer willing to go confrontational if necessary.

The pensions can be sorted later, in my personal case.

In the case of the withheld allowances you mentioned (widowers, half-orphaned, …) it is a different story, but these would not be hampered by a cooling-off period anyway, as the former EPO employee, for whom this clause would have applied, did not take up a new job…

But in my new job, the national rules would apply, and then the administration of the EPO could only try to enforce the non-consented amendment of my working contract through national courts, which take such rulings only in extreme rare cases.

And in most member states, such non-consented amendments limiting personal freedom are not taken favourably by the courts. In Germany and the Netherlands, every single employee would have to agree to such an amendment if her/his working contract. Agreement of the staff representation would not be sufficient, mere consultation even less.

The EPO’s management has made it exceedingly easy to sack staff (even easier with the passage of some recent rules to help combat unions) and incredibly hard to resign without severe consequences. It’s not only hard to find a job once resigning (because of the so-called cooling-off period) but also increasingly hard to speak out. Some people apparently just choose to kill themselves. But even then they’re denied their basic rights (as do their spouses and/or children). How long can the European Union tolerate what the EPO is doing?

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