02.02.16

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SUEPO (EPO Staff Union) Appears to Have Launched a New and Improved Web Site After Attempts to Crush (‘Decapitate’) SUEPO

Posted in Europe, Patents at 8:33 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Team Battistelli looks frail as SUEPO’s new Web site appears (public debut apparently earlier today)

SUEPO's new site

Summary: SUEPO, the largest staff union of the European Patent Office, shows signs of strength rather than signs of weakness amidst attacks on the staff and a lot of media coverage, political interventions, and much more

EARLIER today we noticed some changes over at suepo.org. We don’t have contacts at SUEPO, so we have been asking for help figuring out what exactly is happening. “If anyone can shed light on what’s going on with SUEPO Web site,” I wrote this evening in Twitter, “please contact me securely/anonymously.” Well, nobody seems to know anything based on the responses received so far. We can, however, speculate quite safely based on recent and historical information.

“It’s quite clear to see what Team Battistelli is trying to achieve here.”As we have been saying for a number of months, based on numerous different sources, more people join SUEPO and contribute money to SUEPO, even to fired representatives based on reliably information that we have. The EPO’s management, in the mean time, tries to starve SUEPO (with financial sanctions) by attacking strategically those who are signing up new member and build up collective protection (legal shield), dealing with functions like treasury. The treasurer of SUEPO, Malika Weaver, was downgraded. That’s quite a warning shot sent her way. It’s quite clear to see what Team Battistelli is trying to achieve here.

Now, on to the site. Today, when making a routine visit to suepo.org we were greeted by an unfamiliar face and various error messages whenever attempting to access material that SUEPO had published. It’s almost as if the site now links to a different physical machine with another filesystem, or another home directory. Yet another incarnation (there were several with different content over the years) appears to have been launched without prior notice/announcement. SUEPO, by far the largest staff union of the EPO (with several decades of history), changed a lot over the years (mergers included); in its Web site a lot of content was deleted/gone from sight but can still be found using the Internet Archive.

“Yet another incarnation (there were several with different content over the years) appears to have been launched without prior notice/announcement.”Whatever the site is serving at this moment is still work in progress and some links are broken, documents are missing, some text cannot be located, and based on some searches there’s an improved structure but still a lot of missing content. We made backup of what used to exist just in case. It’s a good thing, especially in retrospect, that we had also made backups of many (not all) SUEPO documents (like PDFs) just in case of cessation or takedown (either voluntary or enforced/imposed). Given the bad experience with DDOS attack on SUEPO’s Web site we can’t help wondering if SUEPO is implementing a site redesign or Team Battistelli is now attacking the site’s administrators/maintainers/authors, who now have disclaimers everywhere*.

The final statement from SUEPO (before the change/overhaul) provided a good overview of recent articles on the staff dispute. As it’s no longer visible, here it is copied in full below:

A demonstration took place on Thursday 28 January 2016 in The Hague. About 900 colleagues gathered in front of the Peace Palace — the seat of the International Court of Justice — and walked peacefully from the nearby French Embassy to the German Embassy.

The mobilisation was very strong.  The demonstrators were joined by Dutch Members of Parliament Ms Sharon Gesthuizen and Mr John Kerstens, French Member of Parliament Mr Philip Cordery, and a delegation of FNV, the largest Dutch union.

The aim of the demo was:

  1. To express our support :
    • to the SUEPO-Munich officials whom Mr Battistelli has dismissed (Els Hardon and Ion Brumme) and severely downgraded (Malika Weaver);
    • to the SUEPO-The Hague officials Jesús Areso and Laurent Prunier who are targeted despite their health conditions.
  2. To remind Gemany, The Netherlands and France that they bear a particular responsibility. They are among the most influential EPO Member States. Benoît Battistelli and his closest associates are French officials. Germany and the Netherlands are host states, where the violations of Fundamental Rights are taking place.

Dutch Media have given extensive coverage. Among the various TV programs, NOS nieuwsuur stands out for the interview with Vice-President (DG 1) Willy Minnoye, who stated that the fact that only personnel guilty of misconduct is targeted, and that the fact that five (5) of the latest targets are all SUEPO officials is a pure coincidence.  He also announced that the EPO does not agree with learned judges of the Dutch Court of Appeal that violations of fundamental rights trump the Organisation’s immunity, and that if in cassation the Dutch Supreme Court (who held a hearing on 29 January 2016) were to agree with the Court of Appeal, the EPO would not obey the Supreme Court, either. See the whole reportage on nos.nl by clicking here

Further TV reportages:

Web/Newspaper articles:

If someone knows for sure what is going on or what has been going on at the Web site of SUEPO, please let us know (either in the comments below or private message, IRC, and so on).

One person wrote this afternoon: “Board 28 meeting in Munich today. Did anybody hear any news?”

Has anybody got any information about this or about SUEPO’s site? We are still pursuing information about both (no connection implied) and will update readers when details become available. Due to crackdowns on dissent on the EPO, the flow of information has been made very limited, at least in public sites. People inside the EPO are afraid of hesitant to talk, sometimes even to their colleagues.
_____
* Here, just in case, is the latest snapshot of SUEPO’s static Web site, which either undergoes maintenance/redesign (unless it is in some way being gagged right now, as was the case before, necessitating the disclaimer at the bottom of all the pages).

Postscript: As of the time of publishing (this article was drafted several hours ago), the site appears to have reverted back to the previous form, so maybe there’s still some testing underway. It’s unlikely to have been just an accident.

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