03.01.16

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Team Battistelli’s New Media Strategy at Times of EPO Emergency

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 4:08 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

IP Watch

Summary: In an effort to defend Battistelli and his ‘circle’, who have lost the support of the Administrative Council (AC), a new slew of recycled material (the above is from January but published only yesterday)

THE EPO is in ‘damage control’ mode right now. The mode isn’t entirely new, but now it culminates in lying to journalists. It looks like the Battistelli-led effort to circulate a letter in his own support backfired pretty badly. Based on this new comment: “A new persistent rumour in the EPO is that, since the directors decided in DG1direct not to sign the paper supporting Mr Battistelli (this is much more than a rumour), the principal directors agreed that the paper should be signed by them and sent on behalf of the principal directors only. A support letter from higher management will of course not carry as much weight as a letter from the directors.”

We don’t know yet if that’s a fact, but we shall soon find out. Meanwhile, to quote this new article composed by highly-regarded patent lawyers in central Europe:

Kongsted [sic] reportedly explains in his letter to the AC members it was unavoidable to send a formal request to Battistelli, as it had turned out to be impossible to engage in a meaningful dialogue with the EPO president. The Techrights blog published what it says is a copy of Kongsted’s letter.

According to the IP Kat blog, the letter ‘was shown to Mr Battistelli at a meeting [with Board 28, the presidium of the AC, ed.] on February 17th, but Mr Battistelli rejected the document and questioned the legal basis for certain of the AC’s requests (…) before walking out of the meeting’.

Benoît Battistelli has not reacted publicly on what’s going on at the moment. A letter from the EPO management – it isn’t clear who have signed it – has appeared however, urging the AC members not to support the Resolution (Techrights, again, has published what is said to be a copy of the letter).

The Resolution of Kongsted will be discussed and voted on during the Administrative Council’s meeting 16 and 17 March 2016 in Munich. According to Art 10 (1) of the European Patent Convention ‘The European Patent Office shall be managed by the President, who shall be responsible for its activities to the Administrative Council’.

It remains to be seen whether the management letter will help Battistelli. An AC meeting last December showed he does no longer have the traditional support from the Council. His controversial proposals for the reform of the Boards of Appeal were rejected, according to a report of the German legal website JUVE, and a new procedure to handle the reform was initiated. Earlier, the Presidium of the BoA, the Association of Members of the BoA (AMBA) and the president of epi had written to the AC, complaining Battistelli ignored the views of the Boards and their criticism on his reform proposals, although he maintained he had broad support for them.

[...]

However, sources of the Dutch daily De Telegraaf said it’s likely that Battistelli will step down soon and that he has already demanded ten year salaries in return, which adds up to 18 million euro.

“The EPO hasn’t reacted to questions by Kluwer IP Law on the reported tensions,” noted the author. Sometimes the EPO claims that Battistelli’s job is secure, but sometimes it says nothing at all. Well, silence can say a lot sometimes and Kluwer Patent Blog shows a certain change (potentially) in the media strategy of the PR team.

“The ‘problem’ with EPO staff right now is that it ‘dares’ to ask too many questions and it scares the ‘superiors’.”Kongstad (the AC Chairman) is the only one in upper management who knew the salary of Battistelli or at least signed it off, based on our sources. 1.8 million/annum in salary for Battistelli? Brimelow would be jealous; unlike Battistelli, she did disclosure her salary and it was nowhere close to that. 6 times the salary of the President of Europe with a term almost one decade old? We are still trying to verify/ascertain this. Either way, Battistelli is finished. He won’t finish his term and the scandal over his secret salary hasn’t even started yet. Based on some sources (the subject of investigation/verification at Techrights for a number of weeks), Battistelli’s salary is nearly double that of the EU president, but some say 6 times (or at least 4 times) more. Kongstad knows the exact number. As AC Chairman, at least for now, he should be protected, as he’s the only person who can fire Battistelli even if he helped him in the past. Kongstad (AC Chairman) knew all along how much Battistelli had his circle pay him. We still wait to see the final outcome of the Bygmalion Affair. There too a lot of money circulated, even fraudulently (in the case of Sarkozy). It’s a lot harder to brainwash (and make docile) patent examiners than it is to brainwash 18-year-old troops who obey an elders’ orders unquestionably. The ‘problem’ with EPO staff right now is that it ‘dares’ to ask too many questions and it scares the ‘superiors’.

Some people now joke about the “villa” or the “golden parachute” that’s expected for Monsieur Battistelli (as an undeserved departure gift). How can he even expect to receive severance pay after all that he has done? One of the famous victims of Željko Topić (the EPO Vice-President and union buster) is in the hospital right now. He suffered a lot from Topić, who had already left a deadly warpath in Croatia; there are even suicides there, just like at the EPO. Remember that the problem at the EPO isn’t just Battistelli but also many of the people whom he brought in to become his de facto protégés and protégées. When EPO-funded sites cover the latest EPO situation it expectedly echoes the defensive narrative, wherein Battistelli is the victim, not the abuser who left a bunch of victims. To quote IAM (as of today):

Against this backdrop, events at the European Patent Office have taken a dramatic turn, with the leak of a letter from Jesper Kongstad, the director general of the Danish patent office and chairman of the EPO’s Administrative Council. Sent to all members of the council, the letter outlines a series of disagreements with the office’s president Benoît Battistelli and proposes that a recent Battistelli decision to fire several members of the trade union SUEPO over alleged misconduct be subject to external review.

The Kongstad letter is the first tangible sign that Battistelli may no longer enjoy the full support of the Administrative Council. It is all the more noteworthy because Kongstad and Battistelli are long-term collaborators who campaigned on a joint ticket during the drawn-out process that saw Battistelli first elected president back in early 2010. If Kongstad no longer has full confidence in Battistelli’s decision-making, that would leave the president significantly exposed.

Indeed, the Dutch tabloid De Telegraaf has reported (link in Dutch) that Battistelli is now planning to step down and has demanded €18 million – equivalent, the newspaper says, to 10 years’ salary – as severance pay. There is no real indication currently that this is actually the case, though, while the amount quoted is a clearly ridiculous figure (though one that will circulate and gain in currency as there is no transparency around the president’s actual package).

Speaking to me yesterday evening an EPO spokesperson expressed surprise at the leak, but did confirm that the letter was genuine. However, I was also told that it is outdated: later, more conciliatory notes are now circulating that emphasise that many of the points raised in Kongstad’s original correspondence relating to, for example, the future of the Enlarged Board of Appeal and social dialogue with office employees are in the process of being satisfactorily addressed. But if that is the case, none of them have been seen in public; while what is undoubtedly the main bone of contention – the future of the SUEPO officials who have been fired or downgraded – does seem to remain a point of difference.

Another site which helps Battistelli’s site now says “the organisation has been for three years the victim of a defamation campaign”; no, Mr. Battistelli disgraced it. There was no “defamation” when people simply spoke about what Topić had done in Croatia. As one Twitter user put it the other day, “EPO-like institutions have always homegrown zealous servants aplenty. They’d offer their zeal to anyone being bossy enough, I guess.” The headline of the interview is wrong by the way. "Investigations" should be rewritten "Union-Busting".

“There was no “defamation” when people simply spoke about what Topić had done in Croatia.”Another person said: “According to the KING everybody is committing a serious misconduct except himself, right?”

This was said in reference to the latest interview with Battistelli, which was actually conducted in January, based on what IP Watch told me. We are already in March, so what took so long to publish? When the EPO led by Battistelli says it’s trying to introduce reforms it means “reforms” in the same sense that Lenin meant reforms. As a longtime critic of the EPO (and victim of the EPO's SLAPP) put it, it’s “surprising that with Battistelli there could be other subjects than his coming resignation” (which is widely expected unless one asks the EPO directly).

It is not even mentioned at all in the interview because, as IP Watch explained to me last night, the interview is from January. Well, Battistelli is almost certainly about to resign. Everyone knows it, but there are no articles about this in patent lawyers’ sites. The EPO either refuses to comment on it or simply denies it. They have a history of lying to the press and to staff.

“Well, Battistelli is almost certainly about to resign. Everyone knows it, but there are no articles about this in patent lawyers’ sites.”In the interview, which we prefer not to quote too sparingly (it’s a lot of Battistelli lies with loaded promotional questions such as “Memorandum of Understanding that you are trying to get with trade unions?”), the interviewer is playing along with the EPO’s PR strategy. There are even UPC softball questions, complete with euphemisms such as “global patent harmonisation stand” (patent harmonisation is an old term, used in the media well before they came up with “Unitary Patent”).

To name some other bits from the article, Battistelli basically says he is “very proud and most of the staff is supportive” of him and his policies. That’s a lie. Or maybe he’s just delusional. He also says “I accepted a demand of the Administrative Council to serve”; well, they’re about to fire him, so the use of words like “accepted a demand… to serve” is rather laughable. Recall how he treats delegates. Battistelli does not want to step down, resign, or quit. But he’d have to (and would) if otherwise he’d get the sack. Resignation would be a face-saving move. That’s where he is right now. But first he wishes to ensure that he receives a lot of money.

“MIP (Managing Intellectual Property) has been trying to do an interview with Kongstad, but they tell me that he is not even responding to their request.”In summary, it seems as though Battistelli will step down soon. People who read the IP Watch article (interview/propaganda with softball questions to Battistelli) must remember that it is well out of date (this took place back in January). Based on what I heard from reliable sources, the EPO’s PR team/department is sanitising questions as a condition to conducting interviews with Battistelli. Self- censorship is thus assured. Self-censorship is how the EPO has been getting a lot of puff pieces out there, not even with FTI Consulting directly involved (FTI Consulting paid IAM, which wrote the soft piece above, and earlier today IAM staff, Joff Wild, told me that they don’t know how much FTI Consulting had paid).

We already wrote a great deal about the IP Watch article online. Will this essentially be Battistelli’s “I’m not a crook” goodbye speech? Will there ever be more interviews? MIP (Managing Intellectual Property) has been trying to do an interview with Kongstad, but they tell me that he is not even responding to their request.

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