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02.22.16

More Political Action in France, Still Firmly Against the Largely French EPO Management

Posted in Europe, Patents at 10:10 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Claudine LepageSummary: Claudine Lepage is the latest French Senator to get involved in the scandal created by her fellow countryman, Benoît Battistelli

THERE is a lot happening inside the EPO right now, even if the corporate media and EPO management say nothing about it. There’s some kind of a "blackout" which we are still trying to tackle and there are covert political actions underway (we shall publish the details one day when the time is more suitable).

SUEPO has just updated its public-facing page and revealed a letter from Claudine Lepage. To quote SUEPO:

[Claudine Lepage] Politique sociale à lOffice européen des Brevets : ma question au ministre

(22/02/2016)

On 5 February 2016, Claudine Lepage, French Senator, reported on the social situation in the European Patent Office. Translations are provided in English, German and Dutch.

Here is the letter in English (as HTML):

Social policy at the European Patent Office: My question to the Minister

Posted on 5 February 2016 by admin

For a number of years I have been regularly called upon to intervene with regard to the social situation at the European Patent Office. Essentially, a form of management which is authoritarian and arbitrary, which has been condemned, among others, by the Court of Human Rights at The Hague, is causing massive dysfunction within the institution. There have been a number of suicides over the past few years, and, most recently, the dismissal has been announced of a number of employees, among them members of the staff union executive. I must again urgently draw the French government’s attention to this situation, by submitting a written question to the French Minister Emmanuel Macron:

Claudine Lepage is calling the attention of the French Minister of the Economy, Industry, and Digital Affairs to the situation at the European Patent Office (EPO). This intergovernmental organization and its 7000 highly qualified staff members, recruited from among the 38 Member States, unquestionably make a huge contribution to innovation, competitiveness, and economic growth within Europe. For a number of years, however, the authoritarian and arbitrary social policy of the Office has been incurring great difficulties, in particular with regard to the fundamental rights of the individual, and the violation of social law. We must emphasise that four suicides in 32 months have occurred among the personnel, a deplorable situation. Above all, in February 2015, the Court of Appeal at The Hague, to which recourse was made by representatives of the staff, condemned the social policy adopted by the EPO, ruling it contrary to fundamental rights. The French President of the Office, however, refuses to respect this decision, on the pretext that the Office enjoys a status of immunity. This management, which must be strongly subject to censure, is causing a direct impact on the reputation of France among international institutions. Claudine Lepage is demanding to know whether measures will be taken to remedy this situation, which can only become worse, and which threatens the very future of the institution, at the very moment at which, after 30 years of negotiation, an agreement has been reached on the unitary European patent, with the EPO being entrusted with seeing this put into effect.

Separately, SUEPO catches up with the words of Ana Gomes, which we covered here in English and in Spanish. SUEPO has just added two translations:

[Ana Gomes] Written question to the European Commission: “Re-establishing fundamental rights at the European Patent Office”

(22/02/2016)

On 17 November 2015, Ana Gomes (S&D) posed a written question (French and English versions) to the European Commission regarding the re-establishing fundamental rights at the European Patent Office. Translations are provided in German and Dutch.

An article which we mentioned here when it was published and later mentioned again in Spanish also got the attention of SUEPO. At the end we got a translation of the article, but so has SUEPO. Here is what SUEPO has just released:

[JUVE] Kommentar: Warnschuss für EPA-Präsidenten Battistelli

(22/02/2016)

On 2 February 2016, JUVE reported on the structural reform of the Boards of Appeal proposed by Benoît Battistelli, President of the EPO. Translations of the article are provided in English, French and Dutch.

SUEPO’s English translation is different from ours, so for the sake of completeness we place it below as HTML:

Comment: Warning Shot for EPO President Battistelli

Benoît Battistelli, President of the European Patent Office, has gone too far. Trying to combine the structural reform of the Boards of Appeal with the questions of location and performance-related payment for judges was not a good move. Both issues have stirred up anxiety among members of the Boards of Appeal. And the fact that the Administrative Council of the Patent Office let the President have his way was a mistake too. But now the representatives of the Member States have backtracked. At long last, the Council is taking on its responsibility of setting the course with regard to the Boards of Appeal reforms.

The decision to have a sub-committee lay down new guidelines, and not Battistelli himself, is a sign of things to come. The perpetual turmoil surrounding the Office and its President has seriously damaged the reputation of the patent authority, and there are clear indications now that the once unrestrained support for the President shown by the Council is starting to dwindle, and a number of influential delegations are even voicing concerns about the future of the Office. But that does not mean that Battistelli himself is wavering. The basic features of his reform proposals are still being maintained, and he is still involved with the specific pursuit of the reforms; but decisions about the guidelines are now in other hands.

Battistelli needs to take a lesson from the move made by the Advisory Council with regard to the structural reform. The 38 Member States mean business with the demand that social peace be restored within the Office. The public rift between some sections of the staff and the management is creating a split in the Office. When it comes to the thorny questions of the location of the court branch and performance-related emoluments for the judges, Battistelli needs to backpedal. He has underestimated the unnecessary unease among the members of the Boards of Appeal, and it is now essential for the President, at long last, to approach the matter of social dialogue with a focus on consensus. A first step would be independent disciplinary proceedings against the member of the Board of Appeal who was suspended by the President.
(Christina Schulze)

It’s probably important to focus right now on who’s leaving and what happens to Battistelli’s inner circle. Please get in touch regarding these matters.

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