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03.10.16

The European Patent Office is in a State of Transition, But Not Battistelli’s Transition or ‘Reform’

Posted in Europe, Patents at 10:30 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The end of heartless leadership

Wizard of Oz

Summary: As Battistelli is expected to be on his way out (some sources tell us ejection is likely to happen in June), there is no denying that big changes are afoot and we take stock of some

We previously published hundreds of articles about the European Patent Office, which had threatened to sue us for writing about its many abuses. Two of the latest developments we might as well want to repeat/highlight/cover in depth. These developments are as follows:

  1. About 60% of the EPO’s staff voted for a strike two days ago. They are fed up with the management’s abuses. There are strikes and protests imminent.
  2. The President is probably about to get sacked (or pressured to resign), mostly for his abuses against the course of (in)justice and union-busting.

A lot of this is being covered in German and in Dutch (among other languages). It’s in newspapers, television programs, and radio. These articles or broadcasts also increasingly cover the role of EPO abuses in staff suicides, which soared under Battistelli.

“A more diplomatic president would have heeded the warnings earlier: when in a hole it’s usually best to stop digging.”
      –Anonymous
Not so much coverage about these matters can be found in the UK, possibly due to language barriers and the distance from the patent offices/headquarters, which are all in central Europe (continental). The Register, WIPR and a few IP-centric news sites are being the exception when it comes to coverage in the English language (there is only one writer at The Register who’s keeping abreast of EPO developments, so the other coverage mostly targets lawyers, who are a niche audience).

“The EPO said that the door is still open to SUEPO to sign the MOU,” said this very recent article from WIPR. So the wolf said his door is open to sheep. This is merely pretense of amicability or peace. How many people are willing to fall for it? Lesser informed journalists might interpret this as ‘evidence’ of these problems having been resolved, or SUEPO being the vicious, merciless party.

According to this new article from MIP (English site for lawyers):

The Administrative Council also discussed the envisaged structural reform of the Boards of Appeal which may lead to a relocation of the Boards of Appeal to premises not shared with other departments of the EPO, possibly even remote from Munich, such as in Berlin or Vienna. Concrete proposals could be decided upon by the Administrative Council as early as at its March meeting.

The headline of the article says “Organisational concerns in spite of performance gains,” but it shouldn’t be taking at face value the so-called 'results' that the EPO keeps repeating even in Twitter this morning and afternoon [1, 2, 3], despite these so-called ‘results’ being deficient and increasingly the subject of ridicule. See what Francisco Moreno, whom we recently mentioned here, wrote about it last week:

Filings & Applications

Churras & Merinas

Pears & Apples

Platos & Tazas

#EPOresults

People who work in this area increasingly realise that the EPO isn’t telling the full story, just as it’s lying to journalists and lying to staff. When I leaked a document which the EPO later admitted was authentic the EPO’s Twitter account told angry lawyers that I was “wrong” (for merely showing a document!). A week later the EPO threatened to sue me.

We were rather amused this morning to see that someone in IP Kat doubting the legitimacy of the leaked documents we published last night. Well, we have the originals (definitely authentic) but published the text only in order to protect the source. Here is one response posted in relation to that:

This seems to show what will be the line of defense of battistelli will be: disciplinary authority is my prerogative, there is no legal basis for an external/independent review.

This guy does not seem to understand the pressure under which the AC – and the ministers at home (see the answer of Haas in the BR report) – find itself as a result of the intense media coverage about the EPO.

He may get away with his stupid arguments, but this will make the things only worse because the question will continue to linger:

if the disciplinary action were taken following the law – as they continue to repeat -, WHY IS IT THAT THE PRESIDENT DOES NOT WANT ANYBODY TO HAVE A LOOK AT IT?

If battistelli does not agree with the requests of the AC, he may always file an appeal at the ILO …

Here is a response to the above:

He won’t need to do that.

Look at Article 10 of the Rules of Procedure of the Administrative Council:
“Article 18 – Specific provisions concerning the review and appeal procedures for Council decisions
(1) The President of the European Patent Office shall draft an opinion for the Council on the request for review.
(2) Taking into account the opinion referred to in paragraph 1, the Council, in accordance with Article 109 of the Service Regulations for permanent employees of the European
(a) shall decide whether the request for review is receivable and, if so,
(b) shall take a decision on the merits of the request for review.”

http://documents.epo.org/projects/babylon/eponet.nsf/0/F44EA2A833862CD9C1257B1A00322E35/$File/CAD12010_en.pdf

In other words all he has to do is to file a request for review.
He then gets to draft the opinion on the basis of which the Council decides on his request.

Lastly, here is a comment which says Battistelli “has dug himself into a hole” and that “when in a hole it’s usually best to stop digging.”

The President has dug himself into a hole, despite warnings and instructions to the contrary from the AC, and now he can’t get out of it without presenting SUEPO a major victory. A more diplomatic president would have heeded the warnings earlier: when in a hole it’s usually best to stop digging.

This presents the AC with a problem. What’s needed at the present time is conciliation, not a major victory for one side or the other. But the President is making conciliation impossible.

Whether the PR team admits it or not (it is paid to lie to or mislead people), the EPO is in a state of transition right now. There’s turmoil that only a major overhaul can end.

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