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02.09.16

The EPO’s Benoît Battistelli is the Dictator Who Can No Longer Dictate Like He Used to

Posted in Europe, Patents at 8:25 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The European Patent Office became a crude dictatorial monarchy under Battistelli’s reign

Stone king

Summary: The European Patent Office’s mechanism of oversight is starting to work just a little because, based on a new report from Juve, Battistelli is now reluctant to make proposals that would prove unpopular among delegates

THE EPO has been profoundly divided between those who dictate/tell people what to do, usually at the behest of large corporations, and those who try to do a good job as patent examiners or judges. What large corporations desire isn’t a patent office that works for the betterment of society (or advancement of science) but an office that provides protectionism to large corporations (e.g. by means of continental lawsuits, injunctions, damages etc.), so just like in politics, there’s a battle here between the super-rich and everybody else. It’s class warfare.

Here is the translation of a Juve article by Christine/Christina Schulze (whom we mentioned here before)– one that we sought a translation of earlier this week. Some bits have been highlighted by us:

Comment: Warning Shot for EPO President Battistelli

Benoît Battistelli, President of the European Patent Office, has gone too far. It was stupid to link the structural reform of the Boards of Appeal with talk of a change of location and performance-related pay for the judges – both ideas which aroused consternation among the members of the Boards of Appeal. It was a mistake for the supervisory body of the patent office to give its President free rein. However, the representatives of the member states have now patched things up again. The Administrative Council is finally assuming responsibility for dictating the direction of reform of the Boards of Appeal.

It was logical to decide that the new framework for the reforms be drafted by a sub-committee, rather than by Battistelli. The reputation of the organisation has been damaged by the constant infighting surrounding the Office and its President. These days, the once unconditional support of the Administrative Council for the President is wearing noticeably thin. Some influential delegations are becoming increasingly concerned about the future of the Office. However, this is not to say that Battistelli’s position is insecure. The basic tenet of his reform proposals remains intact, and he is still involved in implementing the reforms, even though the framework is being decided by others.

Battistelli ought to learn a lesson from the Administrative Council’s intervention in the structural reforms. The 38 member states are serious in their demand for social peace to be restored in the Office. The public spat between sections of the staff and the management is disrupting the office. Battistelli has had to backpedal on the thorny questions of the location of the legal branch and the performance-dependent remuneration of the judges. He underestimated the unnecessary upset among the members of the Boards of Appeal. The President must finally attempt a consensus-based approach to social dialogue. A first step would be to set up an independent disciplinary procedure against the member of the Board of Appeal who was suspended by the EPO President. (Christine Schulze)

The article from Schulze is pretty fair and decent. It shows that Battistelli increasingly finds himself unable to just impose — blindly — everything he wishes to (or his corporate masters ask him to). Several months ago we mentioned how Battistelli and Roland Grossenbacher possibly (assuming they are the “two Alpha males”) pushed Alison Brimelow (former EPO President) out and now, in light of yesterday’s tweet from the EPO’s official Twitter account, we cannot help wondering if Grossenbacher and Battistelli are rubbing each other’s backs. As we noted here before, there was a demonstration held in Bern, in front of the Swiss Patent Office – home of Mr. Grossenbacher. People don’t like him and don’t trust him. He is viewed as an ally of Battistelli. We alluded to this before. Right now, says yesterday’s anonymous comment, “what drives [Battistelli] is a world-wide consensus amongst the chiefs of the multi-national corporate community” (euphemism for plutocrats).

Here is the comment in full:

Is BB’s [Battistelli] string puller in Paris, Brussels or Washington DC is the question? Wrong question, I suggest.

I venture to suggest it is all of them. Just as with so many other issues (tax law, patent law in the USA) what drives BB, Paris, Brussels and inside the DC beltway is a world-wide consensus amongst the chiefs of the multi-national corporate community as to what’s best for my corporation. This is a consensus arrived at incrementally, in places like Davos, and implemented through intensive and vigorous lobbying activity in the corridors and restaurants of DC, Brussels, London, Paris and Berlin.

Now listen up! What’s good for the corporation is good for its shareholders. The shareholder and the taxpayer are one and the same aren’t they? Ergo, Mr Democratic Politician, what’s good for my corporation (low fees for bulk filers at the Patent Office, and I don’t care how unpredictable and uncertain patent law becomes) is therefore what’s best for all you taxpayers out there. For a model, look at Singapore.

Just as much of what we read in the media is spoon-fed to the journalists by corporate scriveners, so too is the text of statutes drafted and paid for by the corporations. Democratic politicians are terrified of the power of Big Corp to withdraw co-operation and take its job opportunities elsewhere The politicians compete with each other, which of them can make the offer that is most attractive to the itinerant corporations. And what is it from democratic politicians that best pleases the corporate interests? Asymmetry of course. Just like in the world of finance. Get out of the way. Under the guise of pruning mere bureaucracy, eliminate all regulation. Scrap all employment protection legislation. Clear the way for me to take all the profit while you take all the work, all the risk, all the overhead costs, and you suffer all the losses when they strike.

I suspect that folks like BB can’t see how anything could go wrong with this vision of who shall rule the world. And perhaps it is all for the best. After all, unlike Sovereign States, dictators and fundamental religionists, rival corporations don’t have armies that go to war with each other. Not yet anyway.

An immediate comment afterwards said that the above poster “has obviously never heard of Academi!” (better known as Blackwater, before several renames, which evokes memories of Control Risks, its competitor in Iraq and the EPO’s current external ‘Stasi’).

Another person added:

Puppet on a string – can you please expand upon the reasons why an agenda to shut down the Boards of Appeal can be “read between the lines” of statements from BB?

In the absence of any concrete evidence, I cannot say whether or not there really is a conspiracy to increase the importance of the UPC by effectively destroying the Boards of Appeal. Nevertheless, I do find it surprising (I would say “shocking”, but it is hard to be shocked any more in the context of everything else that has happened recently at the EPO) that there are so many unfilled positions on the Boards.

If there is a desire to achieve a certain objective with regard to the Boards, then BB would be acting beyond his mandate if he was doing anything other than merely reflecting the collective will of the AC. With this in mind, please remind me – was there anything in the minutes of the last AC meeting that addressed the unfilled positions on the Boards?

I know that epi wrote to the AC in December 2015 on the issue of unfilled posts. Does anyone have any information on what reply was received (or what action taken) in response to that letter? If the answer to this question is nothing (other than prevarication), then even I would have to concede that there may be something to this conspiracy theory after all…

One recurring theme in our writings has been the EPO’s focus on rich clients, not European interests or even the interests of the world’s population. The EPO under Battistelli has become an instrument of occupation and subjugation. A lot of examiners do not find it acceptable, irrespective of the compensation they receive. A lot of these people are doctors and professors; they’re not desperate for money and they joined the EPO thinking they would do what’s right and what would favour the discipline/s in which they specialise. A lot of underpaid academics stay in universities (teaching/research) for this reason.

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