EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

03.05.16

Forget Staff Union-busting ‘Strike Ballots’, How About Ballots on Presidential Matters?

Posted in Europe, Patents at 5:54 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Democracy at the EPO or at least a vote of confidence (in a confidential voting setting) would show lackluster support for Battistelli and help highlight his much more capable successors

A vote of confidence

Summary: A vote of confidence — a vote on President or something along those lines — may be sorely needed in order to establish or restore the perception of adherence to the rule of law and mutual respect (top-down) at the European Patent Office, which is clearly at a boiling point under the Battistelli regime

WHEN the EPO‘s President treats delegates like children and only stops short of outright smacking them in public you know you’re not dealing with an ordinary manager (or President) but with someone who probably needs an early(ier) retirement. This isn’t a behaviour suitable for any modern (21st century/present era) leader, only for a monarch (way back in the days when monarchy presided/sat on top of a parliamentary system, if any existed at all). Illegally suspending judges outside one's authority? Come on, who are we kidding here? It’s a textbook example of gross overreach. Comparing one's opposition to Nazis and criminals (Godwin's Law notwithstanding) doesn’t magically change the Office rules or the rule of law.

Battistelli and his confidants currently use so-called ‘ballots’ to suppress participation in strikes [1, 2]. As we previously showed, non-participation in the process would be falsely interpreted by this regime as lack of interest in a strike, and there’s no assurance of confidentiality in the process. That’s the ideal recipe for a bogus, rigged voting session.

By no means do we suggest that the strikes shouldn’t be taken seriously; it’s just the ballot that’s a mockery, and it’s induced ad hoc (rules be damned! Or made up on the spot). Here is a drafted agreement on strikes (Section J as of 2015 — a draft proposal for a “framework agreement” (“accord cadre”) that would regulate interactions between SUEPO and Management). This is what SUEPO did not get the EPO to agree on:

J. INDUSTRIAL ACTIONS

1. The EPO recognizes that employees have the right to participate in industrial actions without fear of retribution or sanctions. The EPO may make reasonable deduction of emoluments corresponding to any labour withheld in the course of a strike.

2. The Union is entitled to call for and organize general or local industrial actions, including but not limited to strikes. Industrial actions shall be undertaken only after a positive ballot by the Union respective members. The Union is required to ensure that ballot is witnessed by an independent observer who will prepare a report on the ballot. The EPO is to be provided with a copy of this report. Industrial actions shall be considered approved, if a quorum of at least 30% of the Union members cast a vote, and a simple majority of the votes cast are in favour of industrial action. The organisation and modalities of the ballot are at the discretion of the Union.

3. Paragraph J(2) applies mutatis mutandis to the local sections of the Union, whereby, any industrial actions so organised are limited to the site represented by that local section.

4. The Union, or local section, shall inform the President of any industrial action so planned. Barring force majeure or other serious cause, the Union shall inform the President in advance of a strike, with a period of notice of no less than 5 days.

5. The President may requisition personnel, but not more than absolutely necessary for:

- ensuring the security of the EPO premises or persons;
- guaranteeing the minimum maintenance of facilities and equipment, so that work can resume immediately after the strike has ended;
- providing essential services to the EPO’s customers, to secure rights that would otherwise be lost (incoming patent applications).

6. For SUEPO and its members, this agreement, in particular paragraphs J(1) and (2), supersedes any other general provision regulating the right to organise and participate in industrial actions. This agreement does not invalidate or otherwise affect those provisions in so far as SUEPO and its members are not concerned.

After the strikes/s (long in the planning), assuming that Battistelli will be pushed further away to the end of the plank/cliff (the Council is not on his side but overwhelmingly against him based on our sources), succession needs to be considered.

Who is suitable to lead the European Patent Office? Who would prove popular among staff, charismatic among European politicians (not abusing them while drunk on power), willing to listen to critics, and not too focused on just profit/gains in terms of number of patents granted (lowering of quality or patent dilution)? Who can restore the pride of the European Patent Office, to make both its staff pleased and European citizens receptive?

“I hope that the heat increases till the bad crew has to leave,” wrote to us a person who is a FOSS figure, nothing whatsoever to do with the EPO or even patents. “But that will not be the whole fight, the choice of replacement is just as important.”

“And in the long run,” added this person, “the work with the EPO material is by far the most important to my eyes because it is a factor in determining software patents in Europe or not. Sadly, there are some traps in the TTIP to get them in the back door.”

We will mention some of that in future posts. Benjamin Henrion of the FFII wrote about it and spoke about this a lot as of late.

Reform at the EPO will definitely take time (not the Battistelli regime’s ‘reform’, but the detoxification after a Battistelli-led era), so let’s consider this one step at the time. The VPs, who are blindly (or out of fear) loyal to the President, are already hated by their staff, who leak documents that embarrass them. The staff (at least the technical people) wants change.

I am increasingly getting ‘clever’ questions such as this one. Managing IP asked: “If Battistelli goes, who would you like to replace him, Roy?”

The decision should be staff’s, and if there is democracy at the EPO, then the staff will at least have a say (like veto powers or ballots). That’s just common sense. If Eponia acts like an independent country, then it needs to start acting like one.

I began researching potential replacements for Battistelli a while back when some people wrote about the subject. In FOSS circles, in which I find my ‘comfort zone’ (I’m primarily a FOSS person, also by trade), it was suggested that I soon write names of people who might be suitable reformists who are tolerant of criticism and antagonists. Most importantly, software patents should be off the agenda in Europe, in the spirit of the EPC. If any our readers know of anyone who openly opposes software patents and has the qualification to run for Office leadership, please let me know soon as it might be the right time to show which better people exist for the job — people who will listen to staff and appease critics over overpatenting (or patent maximalism, which basically leads to patents on life, algorithms and so on), in spite of economics that consistently prove it detrimental to entire fields as a whole.

Among the defenders (or apologists) of Battistelli, one can expect the usual tactics which follow the logic of, nothing would change if Battistelli left, so let him stay…

The EPO, said this recent remark, “like institutions have always homegrown zealous servants aplenty. They’d offer their zeal to anyone being bossy enough, I guess.”

One can go further and say that those who are still afraid of Battistelli (because they think he is going to stay) will remain on the defensive, not the offensive (riskier). The Council needs courage right now. So does the staff at the Office.

“Among the defenders (or apologists) of Battistelli, one can expect the usual tactics which follow the logic of, nothing would change if Battistelli left, so let him stay…”We still have plenty of embarrassing things to show. With recent illnesses at the house (lasted a week and a half almost) and too little sleep, it just wasn’t the best time to tackle these issues, but expect a lot of coverage in the coming week. Battistelli cannot survive. He got himself glued to a corner. Maybe when we debate the successor of Battistelli (a subject of a future bunch of articles, to come in large volume after several other items that keep our drafts ‘backlog’ clogged up) more people who work at the EPO will recognise the inevitable and act accordingly. It’s Battistelli and those who still stand behind him who should be on the defensive now.

Based on an automated translation of an article which adds little or no new information except this last part, Battistelli’s days are numbered. To quote this automated translation (if someone can translate this entire article for us, that would help): “Indeed already circulating on the name of a possible successor to the official tip of the German board member Christoph Ernst from the Federal Ministry of Justice.”

Christoph Ernst is no stranger to us. Over a year ago he received a letter from Tilman Müller-Stoy (former Microsoft and Amazon employee, mentioned here before in [1, 2, 3], not to be confused for Winfried Tilmann, who has a past rife with UPC scandals) about the lack of judicial independence at the European Patent Office.

As Dugie Standeford of IP Watch recalls: “The suspension, and Battistelli’s plan for performance-based remuneration, prompted a letter from Bardehle Pagenberg (Munich) attorney Tilman Müller-Stoy to Christoph Ernst, ministerial director in Germany’s Federal Ministry of Justice and the country’s representative to the AC (linked to in an IPKat 9 December posting). In it, Müller-Stoy voiced deep concern “about the judicial independence at the EPO and about the EPO’s worldwide reputation.””

This shows that Christoph Ernst cannot be a stranger to Battistelli’s abuses and probably hasn’t had enough of that Kool-Aid from Battistelli’s fountains.

As a reminder, last year we wrote an article after a reader had told us that — along with Heiko Maas — the German Ministry of Justice (its growing biased on UPC notwithstanding) is “responsible for oversight of the EPO through its national delegate on the EPO’s Administrative Council, Dr. Christoph Ernst.”

Ernst is listed in this list of AC representatives (warning: epo.org link) and this recent short CV [PDF] says:

DR. CHRISTOPH ERNST, Head of Directorate (Ministerialdirigent), Federal Ministry of Justice, DE

Christoph, born in 1954 in Bremen – Initially worked as an attorney in Bremen, focusing on commercial and economic law as well as tax law; in 1989 obtained the additional qualification of “specialist lawyer in tax law”. – Joined the Federal Ministry of Justice in the Directorate General for Commercial and Economic Law. – Since May 2010: Head of Directorate in the Federal Ministry of Justice, focusing mainly on general economic law, new technologies and intellectual property. – Head of the German delegation in the Administrative Council of the European Patent Office (EPO) and member of the Board of the Administrative Council. – Germany’s representative in the European preparatory bodies on the EU patent (Select Committee at the EPO and Preparatory Committee for the European Patent Jurisdiction). – Head of the German delegation in the Administrative Council of the EU Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (Trade Marks and Designs) (OHIM). – Furthermore, German representative at the General Assembly of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

Can Ernst steer the Office in a positive direction after all the damage caused by Battistelli and his circle? Here are our thoughts.

Upsides: as an economist (ish) in the sense of economic law background, he might be able to assess the economic impact of overpatenting — a subject many renowned and award-winning economists often speak of. This old page from the Patent Office of Latvia describes him as “Deputy Director General, Division of Commercial and Economic Law, Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection” (Justice and Consumer Protection sound better than benign).

Downsides: not a scientist (at least not academically or by education), played a role in the UPC (back when it was referred to as “EU patent”), represented Germany in the now-disgraced WIPO (though it needn’t be held against him in a guilt-by-association fashion).

Are any other candidates being discussed in the context of Battistelli handing over (or forced to hand over) the baton?

Share this post: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • co.mments
  • DZone
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • NewsVine
  • Print
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Facebook

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

What Else is New


  1. Today's Example of Microsoft's Faked 'Love'

    “On 7 September 2017, users began noticing a message that stated “Skype for Business is now Microsoft Teams”. This was confirmed on 25 September 2017, at Microsoft’s annual Ignite conference,” according to Wikipedia



  2. Links 10/12/2019: Kubernetes 1.17, Debian Init Systems GR

    Links for the day



  3. 'Cancel Culture' as 'Thoughtpolice' Creep

    Richard Stallman spoke about an important aspect of censorship more than 2 decades ago (before “Open Source” even existed); it was published in Datamation (“Censoring My Software”) 23 years before a campaign of defamation on the Internet was used to remove him from MIT and FSF (censoring or ‘canceling’ Stallman himself)



  4. Microsoft Still Hates GNU/Linux and Mark Shuttleworth Knows It (But He is Desperate for Money)

    We're supposed to believe that a PR or image management (reputation laundering) campaign alone can turn Microsoft from GNU/Linux foe into friend/ally



  5. Actions Against EPO Corruption and Unitary Patent (UPC) Injustice/Lobbying

    The EPO is apparently going on strike again and an action against the UPC is scheduled for later this week (protest in Brussels)



  6. “The Fifth Freedom as a Meme”

    The issue with systemd (or SystemD) has provoked or at least stimulated discussions about the limits of the famous Four Freedoms



  7. IRC Proceedings: Monday, December 09, 2019

    IRC logs for Monday, December 09, 2019



  8. Demonstration Against Unitary Software Patents, Thursday 12 Dec in Brussels

    FFII's call to demonstrate against the UPC



  9. Links 9/12/2019: China on GNU/Linux, Canonical Wants Help to Improve Ubuntu

    Links for the day



  10. Links 9/12/2019: Linux 5.5 RC1, EasyOS Buster 2.1.9

    Links for the day



  11. IRC Proceedings: Sunday, December 08, 2019

    IRC logs for Sunday, December 08, 2019



  12. Mandatory Education for Those Who Use and Misuse Buzzwords Would Go a Long Way

    In an age of substitution — where marketing terms replace meaningful words and concepts — it has gotten more difficult to have honest debates, for example about the scope of patents



  13. Once Upon a Time Banter Was Allowed on Mailing Lists

    Hours ago Torvalds announced RC1 of the next Linux (kernel) release; it has been a while since he last said something ‘controversial’ (following his month at the penalty box); free speech deficit can make us weaker, not stronger (advantage to those who work in the dark)



  14. Links 8/12/2019: Debian Init Systems GR, NomadBSD 1.3

    Links for the day



  15. Can We Quit Celebrating DRM in GNU/Linux?

    Over the past couple of days various news sites and "Linux" sites expressed great satisfaction [1-5] over the passive embrace of Disney's DRM ploy (Disney+), even when Disney itself rejects DRM, seeing the harms practically caused by it [6,7]



  16. You Know WSL is Bad for GNU/Linux Because Anti-Linux People, Microsoft and Its Propagandists, Want People to Use That

    Microsoft and its boosters (and media partners) haven’t grown tired of spreading falsehoods to stigmatise and take control of GNU/Linux by creating their own versions and traps for it



  17. IRC Proceedings: Saturday, December 07, 2019

    IRC logs for Saturday, December 07, 2019



  18. 5 Years Ago the Linux Foundation Turned Linux.com Into a Non-Linux Site

    One can leverage the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine to better understand how, over time, the Foundation called “Linux” deviated or diverged away from its mission statement for the sole purpose of raising corporate funds and selling influence to corporations (passing the community’s hard work to them — a form of tacit privatisation)



  19. Microsoft Redefining Ownership and Identity of GNU/Linux

    The idea that “Microsoft loves Linux” is as insane as it gets; but the lie which is “Microsoft loves Linux” is a powerful enabler of Microsoft entryism, e.g. if Greg steps down, does a Microsoft employee become the deputy of Linus Torvalds?



  20. Things That Cannot Be Said

    The limits on what we can say are mostly defined by what sources permit us to say publicly (for the sake of source protection)



  21. Fake European Patents (on Algorithms) Leading to Fake Embargoes

    Law firms have gotten their way in Germany; instead of supporting the productive workers the patent system is nowadays promoting the litigation 'industry' and it ought to be corrected



  22. From Moderate Advice to FUD and Misinformation: The Case of a VPN Vulnerability (CVE-2019-14899)

    What should have been a trivial bugfix in a variety of operating systems and bits of software — both proprietary and Free software — somehow became anti-Linux FUD, clickbait and worse



  23. Dangerous Thinker

    Society oughtn't be alarmed by people who say unusual things; it should be wary and sceptical of those corporations ever so eager to silence such people



  24. Unitary Patent (UPC) Died Along With the Credibility of Managing IP and the Rest of the UPC Lobby

    It is pretty astounding that Team UPC (collective term for people who crafted and lobby for this illegal construct) is still telling us lies, even in the absence of underlying supportive facts, and pressure groups disguised as "news sites" latch onto anything to perpetuate an illusion of progress (even in the face of a growing number of major barriers)



  25. IRC Proceedings: Friday, December 06, 2019

    IRC logs for Friday, December 06, 2019



  26. Links 7/12/2019: Fedora 31 Elections Results, Lots of Media Drama Over VPN Bug

    Links for the day



  27. Links 6/12/2019: DRM in GNU/Linux and Sparky Bonsai

    Links for the day



  28. The EPO Rejects Innovation

    The EPO ceased caring about the needs of scientists whose work involves invention; instead, EPO management crafts increasingly lenient guidelines that yield illegal European Patents (not compatible with the EPC) that heavily-besieged EPO judges are unable to stop



  29. Startpage CEO Robert Beens in 'Damage Control' Mode, Trying to Get Startpage Relisted After Selling to a Massive Surveillance Company

    PrivacytoolsIO is being lobbied by the CEO of Startpage to relist Startpage, based on no actual refutations at all



  30. IRC Proceedings: Thursday, December 05, 2019

    IRC logs for Thursday, December 05, 2019


RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

Recent Posts