The EPO is having another ‘Clinton moment’ (Lewinsky)
Summary: A call for journalists to be more sceptical of what EPO officials and spokespeople tell them, for there is a pattern of deception which compromises accurate reporting
WE WERE rather astonished if not flabbergasted by a response from the EPO (spokespeople presumably), sent for the The Register to publish the other day. We were going to post a point-by-point rebuttal*, but now, as it turns out, Kieren McCarthy already issued a sort of correction. It goes like this:
European Patent Office still in nosedive as union denies reaching deal
A SUEPO representative vigorously denies the union is prepared to sign the agreement however, telling us that the most recent document the EPO presented still contains “massive flaws” and that the union is still some way from agreeing.
Subsequently, the EPO got back in contact with us to point out that there had been a “misunderstanding” during our conversation over SUEPO’s willingness to sign the document. A similar misunderstanding also seemingly occurred when we reported that the revised version of the “request” to EPO management would remove direct criticism of Battistelli.
With both sides seemingly at an impasse, the board of the EPO’s administrative council met twice this month to discuss how to resolve the issue, and once with the president and his staff.
When their solution – an external review of the disciplinary actions – was rejected by Battistelli, they resolved to take it to the full council in March. In particular, a draft of the board’s formal response specifically referenced the fact that the management team had failed to sign an MoU with its main union.
Soon after we reported the contents of that response, the EPO told us it was close to signing an MoU. After we reported that, the union strongly denied any such agreement was forthcoming.
What is the truth? The answer is that there are multiple truths and that by reporting on heated negotiations, we poured gasoline on an already flaming wreck.
One thing is for sure: at its March 16-17 meeting in Munich, the EPO’s administrative council will need to do something if it wishes to avoid a full meltdown at the organization.
Well, all the pressure is on Battistelli, not on the Council, so he will probably resign rather than be officially sacked, just to make it all look “nice”. Then he'll argue about how much money he's entitled to. The moral of the story (and lesson to The Register and others) is, don’t trust anything that EPO PR people tell, no matter how persuasively. They have been repeatedly caught lying to the press and we covered examples of this. They not only lie to journalists but also to EPO staff. They even SLAPP activists. █
* No need for sources on this. I know enough of internal EPO affairs to do this rebuttal, but mostly lacking the time and still recovering from illness and migraines caused by lack of basic/sufficient sleep.
“It takes a long time to turn a big country around.”