02.16.16

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Transcript of EPO Official Admitting on Television (Nieuwsuur Interview) That Courts Are of No Interest to Him

Posted in Site News at 1:05 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Courts are only of interest to the EPO’s management whenever it tries to intimidate and bully its critics

Willy Minnoye in interview

Summary: Permanent record of a report about the European Patent Office reaffirming its (perceived) status as effectively above the law

EARLIER today we made copies of videos about the EPO, having made copies of similar videos in the past (just in case). This site isn’t optimised for video streaming (in fact, streaming is very problematic to it), but it’s all about long-term preservation of reliable information. With EPO lawyers running amok (making threats), information tends to decay (i.e. get removed) over time. Any such deleltionism serves the oppressor with its legion of lawyers (who targeted me too at one point).

Videos (or multimedia in general) are hard to search, so we asked around for some help transcribing the video or sharing a translation. Here are the links to the subtitled videos, as promised here a while back:

Video with English subtitles: YouTube | Vimeo

Video with French subtitles: YouTube | Vimeo

Video with German subtitles: YouTube | Vimeo

Below we add a summary of the TV report and a transcript of the English subtitles (with comments). We start with the summary:

“How far does the immunity of the European Patent Office reach?”

Videos with subtitles in English, German and French are available for the Dutch TV report “NOS Nieuwsuur“ (NPO 2 TV, 28 January 2016, 22:00 h)

“Hoe ver gaat de immuniteit van het Europees Octrooibureau?”
NOS “Nieuwsuur” http://nos.nl/nieuwsuur
NPO 2 (TV) 28.01.2016 22:00 h

Summary of the NOS report

The President of the European Patent Office (EPO) is, according to EPO employees, a “tyrant”. The question is whether Dutch judges can protect the rights of EPO employees. Because the EPO has the status of an International Organisation, it enjoys diplomatic immunity. In 2015, a Dutch Appeal Court ruled that the internal judicial procedures are “substandard”, and that that the Organisation’s immunity does not cover violations of fundamental rights. But the EPO refuses to accept the Court’s verdict. The Dutch government tries to protect the immunity of the Office, and decided that the EPO is not obliged to carry out the verdict of the Dutch judge.

The worksphere in the EPO is described with terms like “terror rule”, “intimidation”, and “culture of fear”. Trade union representatives are being submitted to intimidating investigations, without the assistance of a lawyer. Two union representatives were dismissed after disciplinary measures which followed such investigations. At the same time, more union representatives are under investigation. According to EPO Vice president Guillaume Minnoye, this is pure coincidence.

There were massive demonstrations of EPO staff at the two biggest EPO branches in Munich (Germany) on 20 January, with between 1.100 and 1.300 protesters, and in The Hague (The Netherlands) on 28 January 2016, with 900 protesters.

The Supreme Court of the Netherlands (“Hoge Raad”) should take a final decision in the second half of 2016.

In an interview, EPO Vice president Guillaume Minnoye said that the EPO will not accept the verdict of the highest Judge of the Netherlands. The staff union’s lawyer is now considering to take the Dutch State to court for insufficiently protecting the rights of employees.

Here is the full English transcript:

Here is a transcript of the English translation (subtitles) of the NOS TV report:

NOS Presenter Mariëlle Tweebeeke:

The President of the European Patent Office in Rijswijk is, according to Patent Office employees, a “tyrant”. The question is whether Dutch judges can protect the rights of Patent Office employees. Because the Patent Office has the status of an International Organisation it enjoys diplomatic immunity, legal sanctity. The “Hoge Raad” [Supreme Court of the Netherlands] will deliberate on the case from tomorrow [29.01.2016].

NOS Commentator [the camera showing the EPO building in Rijswijk]:

This is the European Patent Office (EPO). This International Organisation was founded to protect the rights of inventors. Whether it protects the rights of its employees adequatly, is now the issue at stake in a unique legal battle.

NOS Interviewer Marijn Duintjer Tebbens [asking EPO Vice-President VP1 Guillaume Minnoye]:

“Terror rule, intimidation, culture of fear…”

EPO Vice-President VP1 Guillaume Minnoye:

Well, yes, these are, I believe, “expressions” used in the press,… Errr… the fact is however, that if one does the job as it should be done, none of all this is applicable.

Prof. Liesbeth Zegveld, legal representative of the EPO Staff Union:

The Law does not apply here. I have never experienced anything like this. The Law does not function here. There is no Law here.

FNV Trade Union Confederation Chairman Ton Heerts:

I believe Prime Minister Rutte and his cabinet should act, in order at least to bring on social dialogue.

NOS Commentator:

Last year [2015] the Court of The Hague ruled that the EPO violates Human Rights. The Office hinders the work of the Trade Union to such an extent that it violates the fundamental Human Rights of its approximately 2500 employees. The fact that the Court has ruled in this case is noteworthy, because as an International Organisation, the Office enjoys immunity. This means that it is actually not within the reach of a Dutch judge.

Prof. Liesbeth Zegveld, legal representative of the EPO Staff Union:

The Court has weighed the immunity and said: “You do not have immunity”, which means: “You must listen to us.” That´s what it means. “I am the Judge for this case.” This is what the Court’s verdict means.

NOS Commentator [to EPO Vice-President VP1 Guillaume Minnoye]:

The Court rules that the judicial procedures internal to the Office are “substandard”. The Office thinks nothing of it and refuses to accept the Courts verdict.

EPO Vice-President VP1 Guillaume Minnoye:

Our statutes conform to Human Rights, and we also comply with them.

NOS Interviewer:

And the Dutch Judge doesn´t think so?”

EPO Vice-President VP1 Guillaume Minnoye:

Yes, the Dutch Judge doesn´t think so, and we disagree with this.

NOS Commentator [the camera showing the former Dutch Minister of Justice, Ivo Opstelten]:

The Office is not alone in this. The Dutch State believes that the immunity of the Office should be protected. In the Security and Justice Ministry, the then minister Opstelten [who resigned on 09.03.2015. He had wrongly informed the Dutch Parliament about payments worth 2M € to a drug baron in 2001] decided that the Office is not under the obligation of carrying out the verdict of the Dutch judge.

Prof. Liesbeth Zegveld, legal representative of the EPO Staff Union:

I find this to be nearly an insult to our judicial power.

NOS Interviewer:

What do you want to do now?

Prof. Liesbeth Zegveld:

Now, the Court has ruled. And how can the Government now say: “We disagree with the Courts verdict”? The verdict is so well grounded, so clearly outlined.

NOS Interviewer:

But the Government has said that the Organisation enjoys immunity?

Prof. Liesbeth Zegveld:

Yes, but not in all cases. Not when no access to a tribunal is guaranteed. That´s a fundamental right: anybody can call upon a judge at any time.

NOS Commentator:

Management and trade union have been in conflict since Frenchman Benoît Battistelli has taken over the reins. Battistelli – here with [Dutch] Prime Minister Rutte at the laying of the foundation stone of the new Office building in Rijswijk – … is carrying out reforms which encounter strong resistance.

NOS Interviewer [to EPO VP1 Guillaume Minnoye]:

Is Mr. Battistelli the victim of a hate campaign originating from the trade union?

EPO Vice-President VP1 Guillaume Minnoye:

Yes, clearly. Battistelli received the mandate from the Administrative Council, and he is carrying it out. He is a strong man in that respect. And there are certain individuals who cannot respect that.

NOS Commentator:

The Trade Union – represented by Lawyer Liesbeth Zegveld – believes that the boss is going too far in tackling the Trade Union. And that he is misusing his immunity in that respect.

Prof. Liesbeth Zegveld:

The Trade Union representatives are being submitted to investigations, intimidating investigations, where they must answer accusations, the substance of which they are not informed in advance, without the assistance of a lawyer, and with far reaching consequences, possibly as far as dismissal, and that has already happened twice [2 dismissals].

Ion Brumme [one of the two staff representatives dismissed in January 2016; making a speech at a demo in Munich on 20 January 2016]:

“The majority of staff is ashamed to work for an organisation led by you, Mr. Battistelli!”

NOS Commentator:

Last week in Munich, the EPO head office, personnel showed massive support for two Union representatives who were dismissed with immediate effect. They supposedly intimidated colleagues.

One of them also had her pension reduced by 20% [the camera being on Elizabeth Hardon making a speech at the demo in Munich on 20 January 2016 (Elizabeth was dismissed in January and saw her acquired pension cut by 20%)]. The other, father of 5 children, asked for financial support from his colleagues [the camera being again on Ion Brumme, the other dismissed Trade Union representative].

Ion Brumme [making a speech on 20 January 2016 in front of protesters]:

“I know and I’ve seen that I am in good hands, that you won’t let me down. That you won’t let me land with my family under a bridge.”

NOS Interviewer [to EPO VP1 Guillaume Minnoye]:

Have they been fired because they were trade union representatives?

EPO VP1 Guillaume Minnoye:

No. Absolutely not. They have been fired because they undertook individual actions, very serious actions.

NOS Commentator [the camera showing protesters at a demo in The Hague on 28 January 2016]:

Today [28.01.2016] there is also a demonstration in The Hague. In the meantime, two union representatives have been reported sick at home here [at the EPO branch in Rijswijk, close to The Hague], because they were the object of an internal investigation.

NOS Interviewer [to EPO VP1 Guillaume Minnoye]:

They are also Union representatives. Is that also a coincidence?

EPO VP1 Guillaume Minnoye:

This is a coincidence. Yes. Individual actions were undertaken by these members of personnel which made an investigation necessary, whether all [the accusations] or none [of them] are grounded.

NOS Commentator:

35 international Organisations in our country enjoy immunity. In a letter to Premier Rutte, FNV [the biggest Dutch trade union confederation] expresses its concerns over the rights of the nearly 9000 people who work there.

FNV Trade Union Confederation Chairman Ton Heerts:

There is of course a certain level of immunity, but that does not mean that everything is allowed. And that you can live above the law when you lead an organisation on Dutch territory, where thousands of people work daily.

NOS Commentator:

It is now up to the “Hoge Raad” [Supreme Court of the Netherlands] to decide how far the immunity of the European Patent Office goes. The Dutch State stands on the side of the Patent Office. The Government is concerned about the situation at the office. It says however: “Concerning the question of whether an international organisation enjoys immunity or not, it is irrelevant whether the organisation is accused of Human Rights violations or other international law violations.”

Prof. Liesbeth Zegveld, legal representative of the EPO Staff Union:

Then I think, Human Rights are maybe not that important for the Dutch State, and economic interests have probably weighed more heavily in this matter. Because this Patent Office brings in a lot of money and jobs. So the scale probably tilted this way [more importance given to economic interests], but I find it to be a weird way [of the Dutch Government] of handling the matter.

NOS Interviewer [to EPO VP1 Guillaume Minnoye]:

What will happen if the “Hoge Raad” [Supreme Court of the Netherlands] ends up confirming the ruling of the court in The Hague that you cannot hide behind immunity?

EPO VP1 Guillaume Minnoye:

Ah…, yes…, well…, then, most probably, a consultation will take place between the President and the Administrative Council – well, the Administrative Council are the delegates of the member States – to see what should be done in that case. The result will most probably be that it [the verdict of the Supreme Court] will be ignored.

NOS Interviewer [to EPO VP1 Guillaume Minnoye]:

You will therefore not accept the verdict of the highest Judge of the Netherlands?

EPO VP1 Guillaume Minnoye:

Yes.

NOS Commentator:

Lawyer Zegveld is now considering to take the Dutch State to court for insufficiently protecting the rights of employees.

Stay tuned as ahead of tomorrow’s protest in Munich we wish to show and reveal yet more details about the EPO’s abuses.

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