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01.16.16

Summarising the Latest Attacks by the European Patent Office (EPO) on European Society, With Complicity of Corporate Media

Posted in Europe at 12:15 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

FocusSummary: Another extensive analysis of recent events and criticism of puff pieces from corporate media such as Focus, which now acts more like a ‘media partner’ of the EPO

THE EPO attacks not only staff, applicants, politicians, delegates, lawyers, bloggers and so on. It attacks the whole of Europe. It doesn’t act like a European body at all. It just acts like a clique of figurines whose goal is to best serve multinational corporations, no matter the means, just the goals (even if European laws have to be broken along the way). The figurehead, Battistelli, is very well connected [1, 2, 3, 4, 5], so he can get away with quite a lot of abuses, especially if these abuses cement the power of the powerful. This is why Belgian TV called him "sloeber".

Inside and outside the EPO Battistelli became somewhat of a laughing stock, but nonetheless a dangerous stock. People who are above the law or think they’re above the law (e.g. the CIA) tend to behave erratically, habitually causing people to commit suicide or just resorting to extrajudicial killings (metaphorically or literally).

Battistelli “has brought the EPO in disrepute and has totally ruined the atmosphere,” wrote this person a few hours ago. The full message also mentions Bergot, who is connected to Battistelli [1, 2, 3, 4]:

What is awful is the fact that BB can claim that all his actions are perfectly legal.
That the harassment has not been queried by a member of staff being allegedly harassed, but by Mrs Bergot, the “best” candidate for Head of personal according to her mentor BB, is legal. It is however a blatant misuse of the legal framework.
The disciplinary committee proposes, but the president disposes. He can take any decision he thinks fit. Thus his decision in the matter is legal.
The same goes with the joint/advisory committees. They can propose and the president disposes. In the past the, the General Advisory Committee (GAC) was composed from members of the management (Directors and PD), but when BB came, he put all the VP as members in the GAC.
It was anyway rare that they management representatives gave an opinion which was not along the line wished by the upper management, but it could happen, when the administration went too far. With the present manning, what else can the VP do than rubber stamp the decisions they have agreed to take in the Presidential Committee (That was actually the source of problems with R 19/12 as VP3 was sitting in those 2 instances). This is all perfectly legal, but there again a misuse of the law.
All what BB has done in that respect can only be qualified as misuse of power and of the law. What is done here is not to respect the deep meaning of the law, but to take advantage of it and crush others.
It is high time that this maleficent person and his minions leave the EPO. He has brought the EPO in disrepute and has totally ruined the atmosphere.
In his eyes, he might think to be a good manager, what is even to be doubted. Even as a good manager you do not need to rule by fear.
He is certainly not a leader, making a good case and trying to commit his people to follow him in his visions. BBs vision are limited to reigning as a king, enjoying life and having a court of crawlers and minions sustaining his immoderate ego.
Rumours has it that BB will tour South America at the end of the month, and even go to Cuba. We might thus have even more “validation” states the Morocco and the Republic of Moldova, whereby Tunisia is still to come.

We heard the same rumours. Will there be more UPC lobbying?

“2015 has been a positive year for EPO staff,” Battistelli is quoted as saying (what a ridiculous lie). President Battistelli wrote this in December. A month later he wrote: “In 2015 our Office proved to be more efficient than ever.”

Well, “let’s be honest,” said one person from the EPO. “It is safe to say that this perspective is not shared by many staff. My personal feeling is that, just like for the rest of our poor world, albeit a few promising highlights and shiny figures, 2015 has been a miserable year for the EPO. [...] December finished on a promising note, with the AC giving clear signals to the EPO management that things had to change. Unfortunately, as the quotes [from Battistelli] indicate, the first signs are not optimistic. Here are the reasons why.”

1- At least, the Communication department worked over Xmas

Despite the compulsory closure of the EPO over Christmas, the communication department was active on social media publishing trivia (see for instance 16 (!) posts on the twitter account during said period). It seems they have also been successful in placing an article in a large German national Magazine: the title summarises it all: “This boss pays 7,500 euros per month and has won nothing but trouble”, Focus, 02.01.15.

Let’s simply hope that in 2016 more journalists will actually investigate instead of publishing sanitized one-sided leaflets. As a welcome example see “Nice surprise: President loses support of the Board for Judicial Reform” JUVE, 23.12.15.

We already mentioned the bizarre thing which is EPO PR being active on the holiest of days (for Christians or for people who celebrate the new year, which is practically everyone in Europe). Regarding the puff piece, remember that the EPO spends almost 75,000 euros per month (that's like ten salaries for senior EPO staff) on some dubious reputation laundering campaigns. Examples are given from this puff piece as follows:

selected passages of the Focus article:

1. “Evil Boss harass employees – that is the story that is spread now by the SUEPO people. The story has only one problem: not true.

2. “However, the biggest problem is the ongoing conflict with the SUEPO UNION. In an internal document from the Internal Audit reports of “defamatory mafia methods against the Office and the President”

The Mafia does not report crimes, it engages in crimes. It’s funny that a 'Mafioso' like Battistelli calls those who report his abuses "Mafia". Criminal charges against Željko Topić serve to defend the narrative of SUEPO, not Battistelli’s. Shame on Focus magazine for publishing such rubbish. Did FTI Consulting make it financially worthwhile? What is the full story here (if any) and what role did the PR team with its secret dirty tricks play this time around? Will this article be hereon cited as ‘proof’ that the EPO’s management (Battistelli and Topić for instance) are just the victims?

To quote further:

Spicy details:

1. The article fails to ask clarification from the mentioned union, let alone report upon its position.

2. The mentioned Internal Audit document is not known to the staff, its representation nor any Staff representative. It cannot be excluded that such document may be part of an confidential procedure. Neither can it be excluded that such leak stem from the highest levels of this organisation.

So once again, as before, the EPO's management shows its sheer hypocrisy by showing what's supposed to remain confidential to the press (as long as the press promises to issue puff pieces, i.e. be the EPO’s courier). It ought to make one wonder what Focus adopted as its business model. This is not journalism, it’s corporate activism (also known as lobbying).

What EPO has been doing so far resembles in many ways what happened in FIFA. To quote this new comment from IP Kat:

Why are the individual members of the AC so supine? Here some thoughts.

Recall the scandals at FIFA. Everybody knew what was wrong, but nobody did anything. It was because Mr Blatter managed the flow of dividends to individual members in such a way that most of them thought Blatter a hero. I wager that most EPC Member States see BB as a hero, for much the same reason. A few days ago I heard somebody say that the flow of money from the EPO is what funds (almost entirely) the entire Justice Ministry of Germany. Think on how such money flows might affect voting at meetings of the EPO’s AC.

Recall that the only thing that disturbed the steady state at FIFA was when the Americans decided to put their boots on. But the USA has no seat on the AC at the EPO. Don’t expect the 5th cavalry riding to the rescue any time soon. Europe has to sort this out on its own.

Why do AC member countries who should know better, and care more, do nothing? Perhaps because thgey cannot get a majority on the AC and so do not want to start a fight with BB that they cannot finish. Read the book on the Dreyfuss Scandal in Paris and see what it took to win against the Establishment in Paris. Seems to me that very little of the French mindset has changed in the intervening 120 years.

Fine words though (about not laying a finger on the SUEPO officers); they don’t cost anything at all. They salve the consciences of the AC members who utter these bold words, allowing them to say to themselves that they did everything possible to defend basic human rights and the Rule of Law.

Misgovernment, mismanagement. Troubles like at the EPO seem to be, these days, in international bodies, endemic, even inevitable. No wonder England wants to get out of the EU. What a pity it lacks today the confidence it used to have, that its legal system, founded on equity (fairness), is a model that ought to commend itself to everywhere else in the world. If it still had such confidence, it would have more “soft power” round the world. In the past, it would have been in permanent intensive dialogue with the other AC Member States, to build a consensus, and then would have spoken up more, at meetings of the AC.

Middle England has been brain-washed by its foreign-owned media, over decades, to be xenophobic. The English press barons want an offshore tax haven that includes London, England. They have most of the English politicians in their pocket (which is why the UK member of the AC says and does nothing). It’s all very sad.

Returning to the aforementioned analysis, we now have this:

2- Almost like father Christmas

In his Communiqué dated 12th of January, the President announces the exceptional bonus promised for achievement of the 2015 targets and production increase of 14%. No doubt will this news be broadcasted to the press as yet another proof of the above mentioned “boss” generousness.

The fact that this communiqué fails to men on the following details is maybe unintentional?:

· The corresponding budgets are financed through much larger savings made by the introduced new EPO career (in particular replacing pension-valid elements with one-off bonuses). So, instead of a “present”, it is at best a redistribution with substantial savings for the EPO.

· The EPO staff is against a bonus system in general and in particular one that divides staff, in particular between alphas vs. betas. Wasn’t the new career supposed to get rid of the division between A vs. B&C? Why should a collective reward for a collective performance distributed differently to staff? And why should an examiner get a larger bonus than a support staff?

· Hearing the almost magic numbers cited (14% production increase, quality over 98%, with a partial decrease of backlog of 66%), one could gain the impression that many still believe in father Christmas…

We have already responded to these figures (last week). We also expressed our certainty that the EPO’s aggressive PR team was trying to compel publishers to repost these claims without any fact-checking, investigation, etc.

Remember one thing: EPO management lies. It lies a lot. It gets caught lying. Why would anyone still believe it? It’s too risky a thing to do.

The last part of the above speaks about the attacks on staff representation. The following was composed before the firings were confirmed:

3- The Union is kindly invited while… its officials are getting tracked, disciplined and most probably fired!

The EPO administration has invited the UnionS to a meeting on the 20th of January. Yes, plural. Both SUEPO, with over 50% of the EPO staff and FFPE, a union whose last election took place in 2011 and unfortunately does not reveal its membership level, (rumoured to be between 10 and 50 members exclusively in the Hague at its creation – but a clarification from FFPE would be welcomed – let alone its election results). In this meeting it is suggested to discuss a Memorandum of Understanding, supposedly leading to the recognition of the UnionS in the EPO.

Such an invitation was already turned down twice by SUEPO in June 2015 as the conditions for such a talk were not given at the me due to the threats and investigation running on its officials. Today, with three officials suspended in Munich and at least one targeted in The Hague, it is hard to believe that such an invitation is genuine. We are eager to find out whether the rumour according to which FFPE would a end the meeting is true.

FFPE made a statement in support of SUEPO once before, but some believe it's a trap. Fracturing and dividing a community (‘divide and rule’ tactics) is a common union-busting or movement-crushing strategy. It’s used a lot against the success of Free/Open Source software (e.g. BSD versus GPL or distro/DE flamewars).

Going back to the text, we have this:

Last but not least, the fact that this meeting is being (invitation came in January the 8th) organised on the very day where a demonstration , the 20th of January in Munich, in support of the suspended SUEPO officials (planned December the 16th) speaks volumes about the EPO administration effective willingness to discuss with this EPO key social partner.

It should be also noted that an Accord Cadre was proposed to the President by SUEPO two years ago. This framework agreement proposal, which is basically the EU agreement adapted to the EPO structure, was proposed again last year. However, it was never commented upon nor could be discussed in substance at any stage of the broadly advertised “Union Recognition Working group”. The same can be said about the recurrent suggestion to ask the help of an independent external Mediators.

Last but not least, while the decision in the disciplinary procedure of the Munich Local Union and Staff Committee Chairman has been postponed by one month, a final showdown of Ms Hardon’s “trial” [...] The decision related to Malika Weaver and Ion Brumme should fall in a similar timeframe.

We know how it ended up and we wrote about this in the following articles (so far):

Comments about these firings are inviting some angry voices (rightly angry), even from stakeholders such as patent lawyers. One person wrote this afternoon that:

And still no meeting under Article 4aEPC.

If the reputations of the EPO, it’s President, and the AC sinking into the mire is not a matter affecting the European patent system and the Organisation, then what is?

If the hoped for launch of the unitary patent is not a matter affecting the European patent system and the Organisation, then what is?

The delay in meeting is God’s gift to the conspiracy nuts, and shows a singular lack of management by, or management of, the managers. A bloody mess like this is the last thing needed before the UK goes into a referendum (I know the EPO is not the EU, but shit sticks to those that throw it, those that receive it, and even those just standing close by).

The principal role of fonctonnaires is to make things function, not spread disfunction. No one is covered in glory by this affair.

Another person wrote:

It occurs to me that the departure of the UK from the EU might suit La Grande Nation very nicely. No more unpleasantness with Germany and the UK seeing issues similarly, and different from France. Instead, France can resume its former role, of lording it over the rest of the EU, spending the EU budget largely harvested from the taxpayer in Germany. BB is working in the national interest, that’s for sure.

The rest of the EU should mull over whether that would be the optimal outcome for their citizens. And then get stuck in, at the EPO-AC (amongst other places).

Regarding the attitude and role of the AC:

So, this is how the President responds to the AC’s provocative rejection of his BoA reforms. It’s the spiteful, vindictive reaction of a playground bully who has been ticked off by a teacher.

The EPO really needs someone who can provide positive leadership.

Contact delegates (i.e. the AC) and urge them to get more actively involved.

About “Battistelli and his cronies” this one comment said:

The EPO staff representatives have been a thorn in the side of Battistelli and his cronies. They have performed sterling work in criticising the various ill-concieved reforms with logical and irrefutable arguments exposing the incompetency of the upper management at the EPO, in particular VP5 Raimund Lutz. The vicious and disproportionate punishment dished out by Battistelli shows how well the staff representatives have done their jobs in exposing him and his inner circle for what they are.

The FFII’s President said a couple of hours ago that the “EPO does not follow the rule of law principle, it has to be abolished” (maybe restructured would be better). Financial strings to assure immunity/impunity have been noted by him when he wrote: “the flow of money from the EPO is what funds (almost entirely) the entire Justice Ministry of Germany” (he said that Germany “could gain my respect back if, in retaliation for the EPO dictatorship, they will refuse to ratify the UPC,” which Battistelli loves more than anybody else).

Anyone who can’t see that the EPO is in a state of crisis (Battistelli’s announcements pretend that everything is great and has never been better) is either brainwashed or self-deluding. Publications and journalists who pretend that this whole scandal is made up should have their integrity scrutinised. They deserve it. These sometimes turn out to have been paid by the EPO (Les Échos for example [1, 2, 3, 4]).

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