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02.09.16

Even the Legal Community is Upset at Benoît Battistelli for the Damage He Did to the EPO

Posted in Europe, Patents at 9:51 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

EPO staff, patent lawyers, judges and so on try to clean up the mess created by Benoît Battistelli

Man and dog

Summary: A recent article from lawyers’ media (in German) speaks of the great damage (or mess) left by its current president, who has become somewhat of a laughing stock and growingly synonymous with farcical trials even in the circles of stakeholders, not just his own staff

DAYS ago we wrote about German media's reluctance to truly challenge the EPO, calling for cessation of its abuses. One site that typically provided good German coverage on these matters was Juve, which unlike mainstream German media (Juve is more of a niche) actually challenged the EPO’s abuses against judges. It’s good that these issues are increasingly being covered by German media, even if the media targets only a particular (and relatively small) audience. As Juve puts it: “Every year German Commercial Law Firms provides you with a comprehensive overview of commercial law firms in Germany.” This is a site for lawyers.

A reader has translated for us a recent article (link to original: “Ist der Ruf erst ruiniert”). Here it is with minor highlighting:

With his reputation in ruins, Battistelli now has nothing to lose

Mathieu Klos on the reign of EPO President Benoît Battistelli

Benoît Battistelli floats above the clouds, high in the glorious Bavarian sky. The President resides in a luxury apartment in the top floor of the European Patent Office in Munich, and his position is now more secure than ever. As recently as July [2014], the Administrative Council confirmed his appointment early, and then bolstered his position in December by backing him in imposing a house ban on a judge.

In a comparable situation at national level, the embattled Frenchman’s position would scarcely be tenable. His disciplinary measures were ill-timed, and he was already obliged to defend himself against accusations of exceeding his authority in his dealings with the EPO Boards of Appeal. The fact that the latter can hardly be regarded as impartial courts of law is something which only became apparent to those involved as a result of the spectacular decision R19/12.

So, the member states which make up the Administrative Council would be well advised to start a long-overdue structural reform and finally bring Battistelli under control. The damage to the image of this once exemplary Institution could hardly be worse. The European patent community is worried about the professional quality and independence of the judges. Even the Boards of Appeal are resisting Battistelli’s policies. The discord between the President and large sections of the EPO’s workforce has manifested itself in the huge strikes which took place before Christmas.

Battistelli’s opponents within the EPO refer to the Frenchman as the Sun King. However, this comparison with the absolutist monarch falls short of the mark. After all, Battistelli’s aggressive efficiency drive is delivering what many want: massive power for the national patent offices. And the real Sun King, Louis XIV, proved very durable indeed; he reigned for a record 72 years – a record which is still unbroken.

It’s hard to imagine Benoît Battistelli surviving in this job until his term’s end. Some of our sources seriously doubt he’ll even survive this year alone. The longer he remains in power, the greater (and possibly irreparable) damage he will cause. The EPO is rapidly becoming Europe’s shame, despite the fact that it currently employs some of Europe’s brightest people. Our sources indicate there’s a big exodus of these people right now, as they wave goodbye to the EPO along with the high salary (hence the many job openings that are being advertised by the HR and PR teams nowadays). When the EPO loses the talent the whole of Europe is guaranteed to suffer from bogus patents (like in the US where there is no quality control, not anymore).

“Intellectual property is the next software.”

Nathan Myhrvold, Microsoft patent troll

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