Dutch Media’s Coverage of Protest at The Hague Leaves VP1 Minnoye a New Laughing Stock of the EPO’s Staff
Photo of the protest at The Hague courtesy of Marieke Manschot
Summary: As the ‘damage control’ person for EPO management, which is extremely unpopular these days, Guillaume Minnoye ended up just insulting the Dutch legal system and reinforcing workers’ negative perception of their management
YESTERDAY we published 5 articles about the protest at The Hague (see this Wiki for a complete list or check this couple of later articles). All the articles we found were in Dutch, except for one article from Dutch News (which writes in English). This means that we are still waiting and hoping to find some translations. Here is yet another article about the protest or related/surrounding events, titled “Medewerkers Europese Octrooi Organisatie zijn tirannie beu en gaan de straat op. By our rough count, there are now at least 10 different Dutch articles about the latest developments. That’s not even counting blogs! This probably means that the protest had the desired outcome. Despite having nothing to do with football or celebrities (e.g. FIFA or David Bowie), the matter is now mainstream news, at least in Holland.
“SUEPO has called for independent mediation between it and the EPO several times to no avail. In the meantime, Union officials are sacked, demoted, subjected to secret investigations and made sick.”
–AnonymousYesterday we posted a video of VP1 Minnoye (a better video is now available though Twitter). Minnoye was mentioned here several times before, e.g. in [1, 2, 3, 4] (he’s no friend of Techrights, which he reportedly moans about).
By agreeing to speak for the EPO (maybe it was the default choice for language-related/lingual reasons) Guillaume Minnoye put himself in the firing line. We’d like to share just a sample of (the more polite) responses to his appearance on Dutch TV.
One person wrote that this “pathetic VP1 [is] stating “his door is always open” when he is one of the most aggressive ones towards SUEPO officials is an absolute must see” and the response was this: “Does the revelation by SUEPO in October that VP1 met a journalist of the Financiele Dagblad shortly before the latter published confidential information relating to a disciplinary procedure against a judge to discredit him (http://techrights.org/2015/10/19/benoit-battistelli-smears/) perhaps explain the sudden mad hunt then triggered against the Union?”
We wrote about this at the time. A Dutch article probably defamed an EPO/board judge. If Minnoye was behind it, then maybe some time in the future Minnoye can be sued for defamation. See the hypocrisy here?
“EPO VP Minnoye seems to be singing from the same hymn-sheet as the Dutch government.”
–Anonymous“This is a bit weird,” another person wrote. “The Dutch government seems to deliberately show a Janus-face regarding this issue. On one hand they now start an independent investigation into working conditions and are publicly negative about EPO management, but on the other hand they are extremely dismissive of the decision reached by the The Hague Court of Appeal (and in my view disrespectful regarding the judiciary) in SUEPO v EPO last year. They formally were allowed to join the proceedings in appeal at the Hoge Raad (supreme court) last year on the side of EPO. According Volkskrant in that case, oral arguments are heard today (Friday 29).
“I wonder if these are two fully separate processes, or whether it is a deliberate attempt to act socially but at the same time maintaining the image of an international organization friendly privileges respecting nation….”
Regarding the investigation to be launched into the EPO’s practices, one person noted that “no social study will be performed by the Netherlands. They “just” refer to the study of the Administrative Council as Tweedy Chambers mentions….”
Yes, the “social study” is not being done by the Dutch government, but was something forced on the President by the AC in what someone correctly called its “hand-wringing” mode. If I remember rightly BB announced that it would be done in “close co-operation” with himself. Whatever about the study’s so-called independence after this statement the AC is simply kicking the ball down the road.
SUEPO has called for independent mediation between it and the EPO several times to no avail. In the meantime, Union officials are sacked, demoted, subjected to secret investigations and made sick.
For Merpel’s information about the sick Union official: in the “good old days” if the EPO’s doctor disagreed with a treating physician about an employee’s sickness, there was a dispute resolution mechanism involving one of a panel of third specialists to which they could jointly refer the case. This worked well, too well for it to be allowed to continue under BB. I do not know if he bothered to send an office doctor in this case, but rather formed his own opinion. It would not be the first time that he has ignored medical opinion, even from a doctor of the office, when it has suited him.
“The literal translation,” noted another commenter about a related matter, “is: The government worries on the social situation within the Patent Office, but remarks that it is irrelevant for the question whether or not an international organisation has immunity if it is accused of violations of human rights or other violations of international law.”
“Did you hear that, excellent judges of the Supreme Court? Don’t even BOTHER to render a decision! Because “the Rule of Law and Human Rights will never apply at the European Patent Office!”
–AnonymousAnonymous then wrote: “Congratulations to my management. Have just watched the National News on Dutch TV. EPO and this sordid story – news item number 5 (and the apparent wonderful production figures over the last few years didn’t feature once in the item – we were even the item before Iranian President’s visit to France !). All this when there are an awful lot more important things going on in the world. Rather sad. Some say that there is “no such thing as bad press”, some also say that “what goes around, comes around”,, all we know he’s managed to make a mountain out of a molehill by trying to use a hammer to crack a nut,,,”
One person had written that “Minnoye declaring to the NL TV that should the Cassation case be lost for the EPO they will simply disregard its application ….” (we don’t have a translation of what he said, but let’s assume he did say so).
“Did you hear that,” joked one commenter, “excellent judges of the Supreme Court? Don’t even BOTHER to render a decision! Because “the Rule of Law and Human Rights will never apply at the European Patent Office! NEVER! Mwuhahahahaha!!”
If this is the sort of mentality that Minnoye brings to the EPO, what does that say about Minnoye?
Here is another new take on it:
EPO VP Minnoye seems to be singing from the same hymn-sheet as the Dutch government.
I’m not 100% sure whether I correctly understood this article from NOS but the last line seems to say that the Dutch government takes the position that immunity of an IO has to be accorded precedence over alleged violations of human rights and other international law:
“De regering maakt zich weliswaar zorgen over de sociale situatie bij het Octrooibureau, maar stelt: “voor de vraag of een internationale organisatie immuniteit toekomt (is) niet van belang of haar mensenrechtenschendingen of andere schendingen van internationaal recht verweten worden.”
Maybe a Dutch native speaker can clarify ???
The Hague is probably best known (or internationally-renowned) for international justice, but the EPO has made a laughing stock out of it. Instead of the The Hague being synonymous with criminal justice (e.g. war crimes) it may soon become synonymous with docility and complicity for the betterment of corporate power. As this one comment put it:
Really? Are they not thinking about the consequences? Do the really want to have a decision that would discredit the whole system of International Organizations in the Netherland?
What credibility wold be left e.g. for
Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia
International Court of Justice
International Criminal Court
International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda
International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia
Permanent Court of International Justice
Special Court for Sierra Leone
Special Tribunal for Lebanon
“Oh, but wait: we are allowed to violate human rights and international law in order to enforce human rights and international law”?
Would it not be easier to dump Battistelli?
Whatever is happening in The Hague right now (politically or otherwise), this is an embarrassment to the Dutch and it’s the EPO’s fault. Dutch politicians ought to get more actively involved in order to salvage what’s left of this city’s courts’/tribunals’ reputation, especially after last year’s ruling, which Battistelli simply snubbed and disregarded. Earlier today I exchanged a few words with John Kerstens. He is one among several Dutch politicians who should be commended for having the courage to confront the out-of-control EPO management, which even threatens politicians and delegates. █
“It is strangely absurd to suppose that a million of human beings, collected together, are not under the same moral laws which bind each of them separately.”