Also a longtime SUEPO basher
Summary: The latest UPC propaganda and where it is coming from (or who for); a kind request for realisation that IAM is not a legitimate source of news/information but mostly propaganda (preaching, not reporting)
THE EPO scandals, based on statements made by EPO spokespeople, have a lot to do with the UPC. As Dr. Glyn Moody put it earlier this year (page 6 of a very long article):
When asked by Ars, the EPO’s spokesperson mentioned the imminent arrival of the unitary patent system as an important reason for revising the EPO’s internal rules: “the EPO needs to be fit to efficiently handle all tasks as the authority appointed to deliver and administrate Unitary patents once the scheme enters into force, which could already be this year. Its importance is likely to increase both at European and international level, and that needs to be reflected in our capacity to respond to new demands for our services.”
The EPO’s central role in the unitary patent system means that an organisation that is not subject to EU rules or laws will wield a key power: to grant or refuse EU-wide patents on inventions. The EPO will receive 50 percent of the patent renewal fees charged for unitary patents, with the rest being shared out among the other EU countries, just as EPO earnings are today.
As a consequence, the EPO will once more have an incentive to issue as many patents as possible in order to boost its revenue from renewal fees—a problem that besets the current EPO system, as discussed above. The double danger here is that the introduction of the unitary patent, implemented with a more accommodating attitude to approving applications, could bring with it both US-style patent trolls, and US-style patenting.
Patent trolls are almost unknown in the EU because it is currently impossible to obtain an EU-wide patent. Without it, patent trolls would have to apply for patents in multiple jurisdictions before suing their victims in each of them separately, increasing the cost of carrying out this kind of bullying, and multiplying the risk that they would lose somewhere and see their bluff called. The new unitary patent is specifically designed to make it easy to obtain patents across the EU—something that patent trolls will relish.
Some people, especially those who would profit from trolls or whatever (litigation and defense/offense), just don’t seem to ‘get’ it. They just focus on how much money they would get. Aistemos Blogteam earlier today published “Europe, Utopia and the Unified Patent Court”. There is no Utopia here at all. To quote the concluding words:
We do need to know how patent strategists, litigators, portfolio managers and investors think, and their insights can be valuable. But we also need a lot more firm information before we can obtain a clearer view as to whether this carefully-planned and extensively revised scheme for litigating Europe’s patents is better, the same as or worse than the patchwork of national courts that preceded it.
Well, it’s time to abolish or mothball and shelve the UPC rather than pretend it’s inevitable and “prepare” or learn it. Don’t study what’s uncertain. Of what benefit is the UPC anyway and to who? Surely the quality of the pro-UPC propaganda has rapidly deteriorated. Joff Wild, the EPO’s mouthpiece and UPC propagandist (EPO pays for such stuff), is not just a trolls denialist (pretending no such problem exists) but also one who would not mind trolls taking over Europe. Why are people taking him seriously? Earlier today IP Kat wrote: “Joff Wild, the editor of IAM (Intellectual Asset Management), is one of the most astute observers of intellectual property as business assets. IPKat is delighted that Joff has offered to share his thoughts on the current state of patent valuation.”
“Well, it’s time to abolish or mothball and shelve the UPC rather than pretend it’s inevitable and “prepare” or learn it.”He is paid by companies that prop up the system and strive for patent maximalism, so how objective is he really? He literally helps set up events for patent trolls, in which their reputation is being collectivity laundered.
But here’s why we still have ‘beef’ with Wild, putting aside his dangerous betrayal of sources. Shortly after IAM's latest EPO propaganda that in spite of the EPO's decline tries to pretend everything is great (and the EPO later conveniently cited this) we have more bogus claims, or lies, to put it more bluntly. Were SMEs surveyed by IAM? No. There’s the usual selection bias (MIP too is now surveying only the choir, ignoring more than 99% of the population) and empty assertions from Wild about SMEs. “The two most immediate risks,” he says to IP Kat (or Neil Wilkof says based on a discussion with him), “are: the U.S. Supreme Court cases going against patent owners, so reinforcing the anti-patentee narrative in the US and making US patents even less attractive; and the UK voting to leave the EU, so delaying the UPC by two or three years at a minimum, or maybe even killing it off permanently. A lot of people are placing big bets on the UPC. A delay, let alone de facto abandonment, is likely to cause a significant negative market reaction.”
“They must be thinking of predators and opportunists from across the Atlantic, not legitimate European businesses, maybe just lawyers’ firms. “No, no, no. They must be thinking of predators and opportunists from across the Atlantic, not legitimate European businesses, maybe just lawyers’ firms.
It is an established fact that SMEs are against the UPC (they say so themselves) but watch how Wild, writing in his own site today (with “SMEs 4 the UPC” right there in the headline), puts together completely nonsensical prose which acts more like reality-distortion, not facts passage. To quote one part:
SME advance – It’s rare to find anyone running a European SME confident enough to talk in detail about patents, let alone willing to do so. That’s what made the contribution of Rubén Bonet, president and CEO of Barcelona-based Fractus, so welcome in this morning’s “Europe’s chance to lead” plenary session. The company is a designer, manufacturer and licensor of optimised antennas, and was spun out of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona in the late 1990s. It holds over 200 patents and applications covering 50 inventions, and is no stranger to the courts in the US and elsewhere. That, of course, makes it an exception. As Bonet acknowledged, most SMEs do not engage with the patent system, regarding it as a waste of time and money. The UPC, though, could change that, he said. The key would be to maintain current quality standards at the EPO and to ensure that the new court regime also functions to the highest standards. With such quality you have predictability and with that you have the ability not only to pan long term, but also to attract investment. There is nothing more disastrous for a tech-based SME, Bonet observed, than to be awarded a patent, to build a business around it and then to have it invalidated a few years further down the line. The delivery of high-quality patents makes that scenario far less likely. In terms of UPC predictability, Bonet said, it will be important to get eh damages regime right and also to ensure the availability of injunctions. With these things in place, plus high-quality grants, he stated, litigation would actually less likely as parties would have a much clearer idea of what the outcome of going to court would be. All of this would make SMEs with European patent portfolios more attractive to VCs and may even make it easier to secure money from the banks against the assets. What’s not to like from an SME perspective? (JW)
“What’s not to like from an SME perspective?”
What a nonsensical rhetorical question. Wild is hijacking their voice or preaching to them. This is lobbying or advocacy, it’s not news.
A later part from Wild (JW) is revealing more intersections with EUIPO, as we foresaw [1, 2]:
From UPC to UIPC – It’s no great secret that the European Patent office was not best pleased when the Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market (OHIM), which grants Community trademark and design rights, was rebranded the EU IP Office earlier this year. It looked like a bit of a land grab, given that even though the agency has no patent remit, patents are very much part of the IP family. At the very least, it was argued in Munich, the name change might cause confusion and give an opportunity for unscrupulous operators to fleece unsuspecting punters for a few Euros. With that in mind, it was interesting to hear Margot Fröhlinger – the EPO’s Principal Director of Patent Law and Multilateral Affairs and a 2016 inductee into the IP Hall of Fame – talk about her hopes for the Unified Patent Court during her induction speech. Fröhlinger has spent long years, first at the European Commission and latterly at the EPO, helping to drive the UPC agreement and it was her fervent personal hope, she said, that once it is up and running the court’s remit should eventually be extended to cover trademarks, designs and other forms of EU-wide IP rights – a UIPC, if you like. There is no doubt that such a view would not be terribly popular in OHIM headquarters down the coast from Barcelona in Alicante; but although there would be a number of practical issues to resolve before such a move could take place it does make some sense for a continent that for a long time has seen merit in specialised IP dispute resolution fora. (JW)
We used to be polite towards IAM and give it the benefit of the doubt, but there’s no point being too polite to the EPO and its propagandists as lack of antagonism would let them eat Europe alive, without resistance/opposition.
Every EPO employee should know by now IAM’s role as it relates to the EPO. There should be no confusion/ambiguity here. Whether intentionally or inadvertently, IAM does an enormous damage to Europe (its economy, not the patent law firms perhaps). It must be the ENA way… █
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Public scrutiny and media attention would only serve to expose the naked emperor (Sun King)
The Emperor’s New Clothes. Image credit: Владимир Шеляпин
Summary: An update or a short series of updates about a meeting which is expected to take place next week and deal with an illegally suspended (by Battistelli) judge who ‘insulted’ Battistelli by saying the truth
THE management of the EPO is hoping to demolish the boards which assure patent quality and justice. That’s the ENA way (or the highway). The boards can be viewed/perceived as an ‘impediment’ to so-called ‘production’.
Days ago we wrote about claims that on the 14th of June there will be a meeting in which Battistelli's attack on the boards will be discussed and this new comment says more about that:
Well http://www.epo.org/applying/online-services/proceedings/calendar.html? for 14th June does not list the proceedings or indeed any proceedings in 131. Note that proceedings in appeal are public unless particular circumstances dictate otherwise. Could that be the case here?
And in the same vein the EPO site does not provide access to the previous decisions in cases Art. 23 1/15 and Art. 23 2/15 – despite the fact that the Enlarged Board determined that they be published.
Who cares as long as Wikipedia is available.
But probably not for much longer at the EPO …
There’s some disagreement over whether the public can access the proceedings or not:
the hearings next week in the case of the suspended member of the BoA are public and planned to last 3 days – but I am ready to bet with you that as soon as a critical level of interest in them will be reached, despite the attempts of the Office to hide their occurrence, the President will find a good excuse to block access to the public.
As you said: “unless particular circumstances dictate otherwise.”
Here is what Merpel wrote:
Article 12a of the Rules of Procedure of the Enlarged Boards of Appeal, setting the procedure of proceedings under Art 23(1) EPC states:
(9) Unless and to the extent that the Enlarged Board decides otherwise, the proceedings shall not be public and shall be confidential.
Has the EBA really decided otherwise in this case?
If there are no effective (and affordable) boards at the Organisation, then patent quality is assured to decline. Earlier today we found this brag about a new EPO patent. This promotional piece of text says: “Intelligent Mechatronic Systems (IMS), a leading connected car solution Provider, announced today the granting of a patent, by the European Patent Office (EPO), that covers the fundamental requirements to enable connected car services using smartphones and other mobile devices.”
It’s not a company from Europe but from Canada and we previously saw how software patents had been disguised as devices, only to be squashed by the Boards of Appeal (Rapporteur Corcoran in that case). Getting rid of such people, or defaming them, would open the gates to software patents in Europe, in clear violation of the EPC and the 2005 directive that reinforces it. █
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Sun King’s general approach towards staff and his media strategy
Summary: The war on staff’s freedom (even freedom of speech, including after leaving the EPO) escalated to the point of jaw-dropping levels
IT IS no secret that EPO management witch-hunts people, especially those who are associated with (or run) SUEPO. Those people must behave as Battistelli (Sun King) pleases at all times, even after he dismisses them (apparently) because vengeance goes a long way. The Battistelli Kool-Aid must flow uninterrupted. People must stop reading blogs that express criticism or question the EPO. They should instead tune in to EPO (paid) “media partners”. That’s the Battistelli way.
Having realised that she is banned by the EPO anyway, Merpel now continues her work with little hesitation (not much is left to lose). I know the feeling. Among the comments posted in relation to the censorship (please note we have updated this post 3 times already, with new information) we have [1, 2]:
The Bike has been expertised and only normal wear detected on the brakes …I guess it will not make it to the intranet.
You are joking, right? Expertised by whom, anyway?
The “Bike” meme/theme — or the “Bike Affair” as some call it — just won’t go away. It helps distract from meaningful conversation about Battistelli and his goons, as does the event on Thursday (to coincide with a protest). Once again the EPO resorts to 'spamming' people for this silly event. Compare [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9] (pretty much identical message, which can get them temporarily shadow-banned by Twitter). This is truly pathetic.
Looking at the latest from Merpel, based on a lot of comments and discussions in comments (which we never get around to covering due to lack of time) she has composed this article about “the EPO’s plans to restrict post-service employment”. To quote the key bits:
Merpel wrote recently about the latest plans of the European Patent Office to reform the Boards of Appeal of the EPO. One aspect present in the earlier proposals of CA/16/15 (see IPKat here, here and here) was that post-service restrictions on employment should apply to former members of the Boards of Appeal, in order to prevent the appearance of conflicts of interest. This aspect has been removed from the main proposal and made the subject of an entire new proposal of its own, to apply not just to Board of Appeal members, but all employees of the EPO.
It must be cause for concern where powers are stated to be used only exceptionally, but granted without restriction. Moreover, the EPO is explicitly moving to a situation where more employees are expected not to stay their whole working lives with the EPO, so the question of what an ex-employee can do will rise in prominence. For example, the proposals for reform of the Boards of Appeal plan to remove security of tenure so that Board members can no longer expect to be automatically re-appointed at the end of each 5 year term.
For the Boards of Appeal, the most significant issue is that Board members cannot improperly use their former status to the advantage of a particular party by representing them in proceedings before the EPO, but this was dealt with more than 2 decades ago in case G/94.
As an organisation, the EPO is struggling (to put it politely) with its staff relations. It is baffling that the Administrative Council might think it to be a good idea to to add to the list of staff grievances by granting the EPO President, who is the “appointing authority” for most staff, an entirely new ability to control the career of staff members even beyond their departure from the Office, without at least being convinced first that the lack of such powers was damaging the Office.
So Merpel returns to her original question – what is the evidence that further restrictions are required now?
“I may be prejudiced, but this sounds like “Silence! I kill you!”,” said this one response. To quote the whole thing:
I am puzzled at how a former member of a Board of Appeal could take a position where he or she would create a conflict with respect to the legitimate interests of the European Patent Office.
Indeed, we have G2/94. But as this relates to partiality, one would say the proposed oral submission of the former Board member could harm the interests of the other party, not so much the interests of the EPO. And, by the way, G2/94 related to partiality of the Board of Appeal, which is, as we all know, not part of the European Patent Office (hmm… ok, they are employed by the Office?).
So, again, what legitimate interests of the EPO could be at stake for any position taken up by a former Board member?
I may be prejudiced, but this sounds like “Silence! I kill you!”.
It’s also said that “the current EPO looks like the old soviet structures in the 80s’,” to quote another comment:
The current EPO direction wants to control 360°, 24/7 the life of each and single one.
An ex-EPO director now happy pensioner told me today : the current EPO looks like the old soviet structures in the 80s’
Sad, very sad
“This is a measure of pure vindictiveness, with no reasonable justification whatsoever,” added another:
There does not need to be “evidence” to support any whim of the President. Who is going to say him nay? However, there are several benefits from his point of view. As already noted, this measure would have a crippling effect on members of the Board of Appeal wishing to pursue any “occupational activity” after leaving the EPO. In a strategy to undermine the BoA this is another effective action.
There is also the benefit of blocking the activities of anyone retired or dismissed who wishes to work for SUEPO, whether paid or not. There are already several people who would potentially be affected by this measure, especially the two SUEPO leaders dismissed in Munich. Displease the President and the risk is that he and his investigators will pursue you to the ends of the earth and for the rest of your working life.
This is a measure of pure vindictiveness, with no reasonable justification whatsoever.
And finally, a shorter remark:
The Will of the President is all the evidence you need, Merpel.
A lot more of this can be found in comments in other threads, which is possibly why the EPO grew angry enough to just block the entire site/blog. █
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Summary: A reminder that later this week there will be a showing of dissent and unrest, not just a paid-for ceremony that serves as mass distraction
THE EPO has a war in it between staff and management. There will be a demonstration on Thursday and to quote a source of ours: “There are two local SUEPO demos on Thursday: In Munich, the demo starts at 12:00 h in front of the ISAR building. In The Hague, buses leave at 11:40 h (sharp) in front of the Main building, the demo starts at about 12:00 h at “Plein 1813″ (not at Carnegieplein).”
The goal is to raise awareness of the rift while Battistelli's media extravaganza goes on in Lisbon. Some MPs are aware of the rift and to quote SUEPO: “Ënnerstëtzt Lëtzebuerg weiderhin den aktuellen, staark ëmstriddenen EPO-President?” (Luxembourg Socialist Workers’ Party, 3 June 2016). Scroll down to read the parliamentary question in French of Claudia Dall’Agnol, Member of Parliament.”
Luxembourg may be a small country, but it’s not so blindly loyal to Battistelli, nor is it passive. We recently mentioned two articles from Luxembourg [1, 2] and surely politicians from other nations pay close attention. The more of them get personally involved, the better. That’s bureaucracy. The whole situation gets harder to ignore.
SUEPO recently published a list of 8 videos with Dutch politicians in them and we increasingly see more of the same from German politicians. The demonstrations in Munich and The Hague will hopefully stir up some of the same kinds of interventions. “The demonstration in The Hague on 28 January 2016,” wrote SUEPO, “led to an extensive media coverage in The Netherlands, including video reports that have now been grouped in a playlist in Youtube. All the video reports are now provided with translations in English, French and German (you simply need to activate subtitles in your preferred language)”
English subtitles are available for all the videos and here are half of them which we probably never showed here before (except some sections/cuts within them):
NOS Journaal 28/1/2016 20:00
TV West Nieuws 28 January 19:30
‘De heksenjacht heeft nu ook Rijswijk bereikt’
Video in article “Personeel protesteert tegen ‘intimidatie’ bij Europees Octrooibureau” (28/01/2016)
Here is a text circulated about tomorrow’s protest and why it’s worth attending:
Oh Benoît, did the earth move for you too?
On 16 March, the Administrative Council voted unanimously in favour of a resolution, imposing their will on the president. In a 2012 interview (http://www.usinenouvelle.com/article/le-stratege-du-brevet-europeen.N182255) that has by now become notorious, the president said that it would take a “tremblement de terre” for the Administrative Council, or any of its members not to support him. Was the meeting of 16 March the earthquake that we have all been waiting for?
A unique resolution
One thing is for sure: the resolution is unique in the history of the European Patent Organisation. Never before has the Administrative Council felt the need to take the initiative in such a way, or done so with such unanimity. There was not a single vote against the resolution, which told the president who was boss, even if it did so in softer words than some would have liked. In the same 2012 interview, the president said, “Je n’ai jamais été aussi libre. Je n’ai pas de ministère de tutelle, de Parlement, de gouvernement. C’est nous qui fixons les règles, les discutons, les négocions.” Suddenly, however, it is not the president who makes the rules. And now, he has a body to which he must answer. The words he uttered in 2012 were out of place at the time he said them, and they definitely seem totally hollow today. The “great dictator” cannot resist the sabre-rattling and the growling, but the lion of old has turned into a cat with allures.
Whose turn is it to be micro-managed now?
The master of micro-management is finding that he is being micro-managed himself. No longer can he say, “Je n’ai jamais été aussi libre”. Ironically, no EPO president has ever had so little freedom or been under such close supervision. But he has only himself to blame for the arrogance and ruthlessness with which he pushed the bad reforms. How many of us can remember the harnesses that mothers used to put on badly behaving children? They had reins so that the mother could keep a close eye on the child and quickly pull it back to order if it stepped out of line. The Administrative Council has just fitted out our president with a virtual harness and is keeping a tight grip on the reins it has in its hands.
It is becoming rapidly clear that staff, many delegations and large swathes of the press have lost all trust in what the president says. Staff realised a long time ago that what Battistelli says is often a distortion of the truth. Others, with less access to the full information, took him at his word and refused to believe that he was as bad as the staff was claiming. For Council delegations, that changed last December, when they realised that the president not only had failed to implement the clear wishes they had expressed about the DG3 reform, but that he had even misrepresented the results of the external survey on the reform of DG3 the Office had carried out. In the March 2016 Council meeting, some delegations went further, questioning the background to the high productivity statistics, and hinting that they may not be all they seem, or may not have been achieved in a reasonable way. Journalists have also begun to spot cracks in the shiny presidential surface. IPKat is analysing the Office’s statistics and is finding they might not be telling the whole truth (http://ipkitten.blogspot.co.uk/2016/03/epo-performance-1-application-pendency.html).
Do NOT be fooled by the president backing down for the first time in his presidency, and removing the pension cut from the punishment imposed on one SUEPO leader. This was a unique and isolated act, and if you read the text of the president’s decision, he refuses to accept that he made any mistakes, only granting the milder punishment “ex gratia” (http://techrights.org/2016/03/26/epo-strike-imminent/). Undoing one blatant injustice is not the same as doing justice or making it seen being done. This “gracious” act is merely symbolic, and the language used shows no change in attitude whatever. Real justice would require complete abolition of ALL the new rules and regulations that breach international civil service law and human rights.
SUEPO and the resolution
The resolution passed on 16 March calls on the unions “to work rapidly to an agreement on Union recognition without preconditions.” Pro-Battistelli commentators, notably Intellectual Assets Magazine, have seized on this, arguing that the ball will soon be in the unions’ court to resolve the issue (http://www.iam-media.com/Blog/Detail.aspx?g=0fe01b6c-4516-4a7d-afcc-8ef0b8496405). It is difficult to understand how such commentators reach that conclusion. SUEPO has in fact played a rather minor role in the evolution of staff’s unhappiness with the Office’s management. Even the latest call for strike came from a group of individuals and was not a SUEPO initiative. If SUEPO were to throw open their arms and say, “All is forgiven, Benoît,” what would staff expect them to do? Should they agree to measures that go against the European Convention on Human Rights, such as the strike regulation, social democracy and the health reform? Should they accept that their union leaders, some of whom are now unemployed, go into negotiations with a man who behaved so heinously towards those same union leaders? Should they negotiate with a man whose idea of negotiation is to say, “Take it or leave it, and let me warn you, if you leave it, there will be nasty consequences for you”? We say, NO, they should not discuss with this man, who has disqualified himself from the ranks of people it is reasonable to speak with. There is no trust in Battistelli, and after all that has happened, there can never be trust in Battistelli.
It’s time to go
Today, the president is a lame duck. He may not think so, of course. True to character, he is acting in his old aggressive way. It is as though, metaphorically speaking, he has cut the brake lines on his own bike and is hurtling downhill towards disaster. His latest proposal for a reform of DG 3 has once more been drafted without consulting those affected, is once more at odds with leading opinions across the IP world and is once more totally unacceptable. In parallel, he is “revising” the Investigation Guidelines and the rules for disciplinary procedures at the EPO. No one expects any good to come out of these activities.
His open disrespect for the instructions he has been given will lead to further tensions in the Council. Can the delegations tolerate his presence any longer at the helm of the EPO?
He is in a Catch 22 situation. If he behaves in his old way, he will surely be the subject of severe criticism for ignoring the Council resolution. If he does nothing, then there is no point in him staying on as president. If he surprises us all and spontaneously turns into a Mr Nice Guy over night, it will have no credibility. Whichever way you look at it, a once strong – and very unpleasant – leader is now weak, and still very unpleasant. It is time for him to go.
And it is our duty to remind him and the Council of that:
Come to the demo on Thursday!
Things are getting very busy (and noisy) at the EPO again, so expect more coverage from us. █
Update: at around 2 AM, based on the RSS timestamp, SUEPO published the following statement:
Actions continue: next demonstration 9 June
During its March meeting, the Administrative Council (the Supervisory Body) of the EPO passed a resolution making a number of requests to the Mr Battistelli, President of the EPO. None of the changes that Mr Battistelli will table to the June meeting of the Administrative Council (AC) comply with these requests.
The reforms proposed by Mr Battistelli – if adopted by the Council – will further increase the discretionary powers of the President over EPO staff and their representatives (new investigation regulations, new disciplinary procedures, post-service employment restrictions) and reduce the independence of the Boards of Appeals (reform of DG3). In short, the new proposals are bad for staff and bad for the EPO.
In spite of the many proposals tabled by SUEPO in the (recent) past and of the clear request of the Administrative Council, SUEPO – representing 50% of staff, was not even approached by the President to re-open discussions about a Memorandum of Understanding.
By acting this way, Mr Battistelli shows a blatant disregard not only for staff but also for the representatives of the EPO Member States.
Last month we explained why Battistelli should be sacked.
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At what cost?
Summary: Oswald Schröder, who left the EPO when things turned truly disastrous, is leaving again and it seems apparent that spending millions of Euros buying the media is all that Team Battistelli has got left before the public realises that it’s just another FIFA
POLITICAL pressure against the EPO is growing again. Politicians speak to one another and it starts to be too much for Battistelli to bear.
We don’t expect Battistelli to be able to ‘buy’ his way into silencing them like he does the Administrative Council and he cannot just blacklist YouTube or the European Parliament’s Web sites Office-wide (this is how Battistelli increasingly deals with dissent, having resorted to the most miserable measurements imaginable, short of hiring mercenaries to murder his perceived enemies). Now that JoinUp at Europe.eu publishes “Portugal to boost digital economy with EUR 1.9 billion” we can’t help thinking of this week’s 'gift' from Battistelli to Portugal. How will that turn out? The whole media strategy of the EPO right now is just “pay lots of money for media companies to say nice things” (i.e. buy the media) and this is very expensive. It’s gross waste and abuse from a leadership that’s about to have a ‘FIFA/Blatter moment’.
“Remember that IAM was chosen to organise UPC propaganda events supported by the EPO and financed by the EPO’s PR firm along with UPC profiteers.”Based on this new article from Luxembourg, the EPO’s spokesperson who left (we last mentioned this last year, he had worked for the EPO in Munich for a decade) is leaving again after just 5 week at the GDL palace. To quote an automated translation of the article about Oswald Schröder: “Just five weeks he was in office: Now, the new spokesman for the Grand Ducal Court, Oswald Schröder, already resigned. [...] Schroeder’s departure is the second to hold the post in the last months. Last fall spokeswoman Isabelle Faber had resigned with immediate effect on their function. Then took a “Comité de pilotage” led by Nadège Lartigue communication of the court to the outside. On May 1, Oswald Schröder was presented as the new spokesman for the court. Schroeder was formerly marketing director of BGL Bank and Spokesman of the European Patent Office in Munich. His deputy is Caroline Verhoeven, who has worked for the European Commission and a short time from the publisher “Maison modern”.”
Maybe Oswald Schröder simply left the EPO because he saw what was coming. We could use a translation of the entire article.
Joff Wild, one of Battistelli’s propaganda troops (IAM), is still promoting the UPC. Remember that IAM was chosen to organise UPC propaganda events supported by the EPO and financed by the EPO's PR firm along with UPC profiteers. Here is the latest from Wild, wrongly assuming people actually want the UPC:
Beating Brexit – So it turns out a few senior IP people have noticed the opinion polls in the UK indicating that the Leave side in the country’s referendum on EU membership is now ahead of the Remain side. The conventional wisdom is that if the UK does vote to quit the EU, then the Unified Patent Court agreement will remain unratified and the new regime will not come into force until, at the earliest, the UK formally departs. But, wait a minute, some people are now saying. The UPC is not an EU Treaty, it is an inter-governmental one. Were the UK to ratify it would not necessarily be going against the spirit of the referendum result and, in any case, it will remain a member state for a fair while even if the result is for Leave on 23rd June. Of course, this depends on how the UK government sees things. The country’s IP minister is, like the Prime Minister David Cameron, a Remainer. The justice minister, Michael Gove, on the other hand, is a prominent Leaver. But if the UK government can be persuaded to sign up despite a vote to depart, then – the thinking seems to be – a way will be found in the period that exists between that vote and departure to ensure that whatever happens the UK remains within the unitary patent system. It’s hard to believe that British industry would not want that – the country’s patent profession certainly does – and it’s not as if patents are high-profile. Essentially, no-one would actually notice. It makes sense, I guess; but whether it would actually be the right thing to do once the will of the people has been expressed is very much open to question. (JW)
The bottom line is this. As people will find out later this week, the EPO’s media strategy is just to pay the media. No wonder Schröder is no longer at the EPO. It’s embarrassing. █
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Animal Office or Nepotism Office?
Summary: Mr. Battistelli, who has turned the European Patent Office (EPO) into a laughing stock, is burning the entire Organisation (boards included) to the ground having refused to step down or admit any of his mistakes, which politicians are obviously seeing
AS expected and hoped, EPO management is coming under fire from more directions. The message is getting through to politicians too.
“The “Social Study” organised by management,” told us one person, which is “still running this week, is rather another PR gag than anything else. The presidents’s BoA reform is true to style.” Another person produced the above cartoon (among others), which is probably self-explanatory (context here).
We don’t expect many people to believe this-called called ‘Social Study’ and looking at another study, this one without EPO management ‘managing’ it, one person wrote:
“You’re right, the results of the staff survey are truly appalling. The indicators of stress are almost off the scale.”
So lets do something really, really really radical,,,something that will make the world stand up and take this nonsense seriously, once and for all. Lets organise another demonstration and walk to the French and Spanish Emabssy’s in our lunch times (private transport in your CD or BN plated car entirely at your own volition and you lucky ones can always claim that VAT you spend on petrol back at the end of the year – failing that a SUEPO bus will be available )
This should make he Admin Council quake in their boots and think oh oh oh,,,,,,,,,,shouldn’t it?,,,,or should we just sit and wait till the ‘lovely Sun Guvnor’ finally leaves?
Now that Battistelli is allegedly 'buying' votes, buying the media, and buying so-called 'research' or 'studies' along with other means of truly expensive propaganda he is also blocking more and more blogs, but can much longer can he keep this up?
Susann Biedefeld, MdL, speaks out against the EPO in her Web site, in spite of Germany’s or Bavaria’s supposed benefit having the EPO in Munich. Here is her talk about it (switch on translation and choose the desired language):
Agnes Jongerius (S&D) has in the mean time got questions about the “working conditions at the EU institutions” added to the European Parliament’s Web site:
Today (Thursday, 7 April), staff at the European Patent Office (EPO) went on strike in order once again to draw attention to their difficult working conditions. The Court of Justice of the EU had previously called for these conditions to be improved, but nothing was done in response to that pronouncement. Conditions at the EPO have reached a nadir, but the EPO is not alone in this respect. At other EU institutions and agencies too, including the ECB and the Fundamental Rights Agency in Vienna, infringements of the Staff Regulations of Officials have occurred in recent years.
1. Does the Commission agree with staff at the EPO that the industrial relations climate at the EPO is unacceptable and needs to be substantially improved?
2. The Commission is an observer on the EPO’s Administrative Council. In that role, is it insisting that industrial relations at the EPO be improved?
3. How does the Commission try to remedy failures of compliance at other EU institutions and agencies which ought to abide by the Staff Regulations of Officials?
Stay tuned as there’s more coming in our next post. █
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Summary: The European Patent Office has just blocked access to a leading IP blog, where professionals cover things of legal and technical nature about the EPO and far beyond (with over 10,000 articles in the archive)
THE EPO has just shot itself in the foot (again!), only a few days before the hugely expensive publicity stunt which includes bribed media. The Kool-Aid must flow uninterrupted.
What happens when one accesses the IP Kat blog this morning from within the EPO?
Your request was denied because of its content categorization: “Malicious Sources/Malnets”
“Not too long after the EPO banned Techrights it also sent threatening legal letters (repeatedly).”Yes, that’s right. That leading IP blog is a “Malnet”. Blogspot is “Malicious Sources”. Boys and girls, please let Google know about this “Malnet” inside its network. IP Kat must be severely published!
Humour aside, this is a badge of honour for IP Kat and it demonstrates what kind of foolish people run the EPO. Do they not foresee the backlash? Have they still no grasp of what the Streisand Effect is?
“Would EPO management be boorish enough to attempt this? Or to try to unmask commenters, as some people did before (taking Google to court)?”As far as we can tell, IP Kat is only the second to be blocked in this way. Techrights was first, so we must have done something right and so does Merpel.
Not too long after the EPO banned Techrights it also sent threatening legal letters (repeatedly). Let’s hope that IP Kat and Merpel aren’t next in the pipeline. Would EPO management be boorish enough to attempt this? Or to try to unmask commenters, as some people did before (taking Google to court)? █
Update: There are now further confirmations of this, e.g. from IP Kat comments. This comment from half an hour ago states:
Since this morning, access to the IPKat is blocked from within the European Patent Office.
Users get the following message:
“Your request was denied because of its content categorization: “Malicious Sources/Malnets”.
I am sorry Merpel, I doubt you can continue to publicize your blog as “Recommended by the European Patent Office as reading material for candidates for the European Qualifying Examinations 2013″ …
The EPO’s management is so intolerant of criticism that it even turns its back on partners and forces all staff to turn their backs too. Florian Müller says: “The EPO leadership urgently needs professional help… blocking the IP Kat blog is just insane.”
The EPO has all the elements in it right now of an organisation in a state of irreversible collapse trying to pay/buy its way out, just like FIFA did last year. Paying the media and buying bogus ‘studies’ isn’t the way out. It’s the engineering of yet more scandals. This is cyclical.
Update #2: A lot of comments about this are starting to surface at the target of censorship.
After blocking IP Kat it’s clear that neither tone is the issue (Techrights is more strongly-worded and less droll than Merpel) nor malware is the issue. To quote one new comment, EPO now “makes it an offense to post on a public forum or to “damage the reputation of the Office”.” Here is the full comment:
Recent developments at the EPO are surrealistic. We have a project called “early certainty” to hire 800 examiners to tackle our backlog till 2020. We have CA56/16, which basically lets the President decide on your partner work, on any elected post one may seek, any other activity aside your work, etc… and makes it an offense to post on a public forum or to “damage the reputation of the Office”. Also: the “investigation unit” is strengthened and there is a new difference betweenn dismissals for disciplinary reasons and for incompetence I do not understand. And ipkat is censored from our Intranet as “malicious source” this morning.
As another person put it:
Desperate needs lead to desperate deeds.
I think if you read the early certainty site you’ll find that you’re not allowed to discuss it with “third parties”.
EPO has incompetent censors; they didn’t even block IP Kat correctly, as the following comment reveals:
@HelloKitty: “And ipkat is censored from our Intranet as “malicious source” this morning.”
No, it isn’t, at least not fully.
.de is, yes, even from The Hague. But I can access .nl and .co.uk from Rijswijk main.
Therefore I cannot believe the “reason” being “malware/malnet”… The .nl and .co.uk sites are identical to the .de site, besides the url used.
Here is more on that:
Had I known before that Ipkat was a malicious source I would have never dared even having a look at it.
Luckily we have our wise president for protecting us. Than you so much!
To be on the safe side I will also destroy my laptop and smartphones at home to prevent any further malicious attack from malnets.
Adieu, naughy Merpel. Adieu Techrights. Adieu FossPatents. Ah, no. Mr Mueller is now accessible again from the EPO: he must then be a nice guy after all. I will read only his posts, but he does not publish since last May. Is it maybe time for a new post on the EPO from a nice guy?
“Maybe the EPO just isn’t blocking my blog at the moment because I haven’t blogged about their stuff in a while,” FossPatents told me in response to the above.
One person wasn’t sure if malware could be the issue, asking politely:
Any official announcement of the ban? Could it be that the ipkat site does have some form of embedded malware which the epo security is picking up? I don’t know – I’m just asking (hoping?).
Yes, it could be, and it’s probably the same malware that also affected Techrights – it’s called “Criticising the EPO management” …
Here is a more serious response:
Weirdly enough, I cannot access ipkitten.blogspot.de for the reason mentioned above (malicious/Malnet).
ipkitten.blogspot.nl works find.
If one knows how Google (and thus blogspot) work, it become obvious that there is no malware automagically detected by the firewall software, but the reason is very fabricated. Well, it works for Munich. DG0 cannot access this site anymore. Nor the AC-members coming to Munich.
This is why this kind of censorship is very serious an issue:
Interestingly, in the recent survey conducted by SUEPO, IP blogs are considered as a relevant source of information for 45% of the respondents – far higher than the 9% for Top management and 17% for Internal communications …
See page 19.
But I’m sure it has nothing to do with the banning of the site within the EPO …
We will update this post as more information becomes available. The press should probably cover this.
Update #3: Kieren McCarthy has just publish an article about this (it has 7 comments at the time of writing, mostly with tips on bypassing the censors). To quote McCarthy’s article:
The European Patent Office (EPO) has reacted to criticism of its latest proposals – by blocking access to a blog that raised concerns.
The thin-skinned organization has placed a block on the popular IP Kat blog, seemingly in response to critical comments about proposed reform to its independent Boards of Appeal.
In a posting last week, IP Kat described as “completely outrageous” plans to make the boards in large part self-financing, and explained why it would further undermine their independence while giving yet more power to wildly unpopular EPO president Benoit Battistelli.
As of this morning, EPO staff who try to access the site from work have been met with the message: “Your request was denied because of its content categorization: ‘Malicious Sources/Malnets’.”
Usually “malicious source” would be used to refer to a website containing malware, but in this case, the EPO management appears to view anything critical of its plans as inherently malicious.
The EPO has history with censoring critical websites: last year it both blocked and sent threatening legal letters to blog Techrights after it posted embarrassing internet documents that showed the organization was giving preferential treatment to Microsoft in its patent reviews.
Some people use Google Cache to bypass these filters, but the comments on this article suggest Google Translate. Either way, people can use mobile phones and home networks to access the same sites anyway, without any fear of being ‘caught’ by BlueCoat (potentially flagged by Battistelli’s goons), whose contract with the EPO is secret but confirmed.
Update #4: Somebody now suggests that the ban has been undone, but we cannot tell for sure and either way — irrespective of the final outcome — this is scaring staff and scaring authors at IP Kat, as the ban still has some holes in it (they might be plugged pretty soon or the whole ban revoked). One person wrote this:
The Will of the President reigns supreme.
He has blocked the IPKat from his fiefdom.
Do you think he is scared by such a bunch of pussies ?
Another bemoaned the loss of “freedom of expression at the EPO.”
As of today, it is no longer possible to access the Ipkat blog from within the EPO. So much for freedom of expression at the EPO.
Then the holes in the ban were pointed out as follows:
@Ketzeneke and others:
No, ipkitten is not fully banned.
Only the ipkitten.blogspot.de is banned.
All other country codes still work. .nl; .co.uk; .mx did still work this afternoon.
The difficulty is avoiding the automagic forwarding to “your” country code…
IPkitten could adjust their template to prevent this behaviour info on how to.
Otherwise you would ned to change your browser settings (preferred language).
As user you can add /ncr to the adress to prevent redirecting.
ipkitten.blogspot.ie/ncr should therefore show you the irish site, no mattr from where you’re accesing ipkitten.
One person suggests that the EPO’s management may have changed its mind:
Late afternoon IPKat was accessible from inside the EPO again…
Depends on which TLD… or maybe the backlash convinced EPO management to retreat and undo the ban?
“Pointless,” said this one new comment from The Register about the ban, “unless the Streisand Effect is actually what they want. All the employees have smartphones, so they can just access the site through their carrier, using the three fingers they are not using to send a message to their employers, of course.”
In relation to the subject of this post, which was sort of lost in the discussion about censorship, one person wrote:
It may also be worth remembering that the EPO has supported (and still does support) examiners to sit the EQE. Indeed for some posts internally it is at least advantageous for a candidate to have passed it. Now, the President wishes to have the right to block that possible transfer from the EPO to the other side. Joined-up thinking? Or what?
While focussing on those post-EPO activities, readers may also wish to consider the effect these rules will have on internal discipline. Who will dare to not follow the party line with the knowledge that BB has an ace up his sleeve to punish dissent? A principled stand now will carry extra risk. Better to resign quietly and not rock the boat rather than stand up and be counted. Who needs a gagging order?
Another response on topic said:
Nearly 25 years ago there was a drought of applications and a program was instituted at the EPO for sending out examiners to assist industry and attorneys. Some still talk glowingly about their experience.
The times, they are a-changin’…
The EPO truly loses sight of what the patent system should be about. It also breaks laws in the process.
Update #5: As it turns out, over at The Register (not too shockingly as it’s British), people exploit this whole situation to call for Brexit, but as one person pointed out in the comments: “EPO appears to be nothing to do with the EU.” Moreover, it’s not as though the British authorities — especially the Monarchy — respect free speech any more than the EU does. In terms of privacy we’re a lot worse here. Brexit can stop the UPC, but how much will it do to change things at the EPO? Not much.
Here is a comment from someone who appears to be from the EPO:
Pathetic, but not really surprising. I’m actually amazed that we’ve been able to access IPKAT from work for as long as we have…
It just shows how petty those in charge are, and it demonstrates a remarkable level of ignorance as to how such stupid and pathetic measures are seen, by both the staff and the outside world; not that BB and his stooges care though.
A sad, sad day for those of us who work for the EPO.
As for claims that the ban might have been undone (lifted), here is a response to it:
“Late afternoon IPKat was accessible from inside the EPO again… ”
Well at least for members of the Investigative Unit who are carefully monitoring every posting.
Is The Register still accessible within the EPO ?
Not all TLDs are blocked, so that may help explain why some people cannot ‘reproduce’ the error message, so to speak.
Update #6: Streisand Effect took its toll. “In the meantime,” SUEPO says, “access to the IPKAT has been restored within the EPO.” Hopefully Merpel et al won’t self-censor after this incident.
Update #7: Kieren McCarthy of The Register has just published an article about the reversal and also mentioned the protest, which will take place tomorrow:
The organization’s problems are far from over, however. Staff intends to hold another demonstration against their management’s action this week. This time, the demonstration is in response to revised documents covering staff rights and obligations.
The revised documents, seen by The Register, provide – yet again – greater powers to EPO president Benoit Battistelli and fewer rights to everyone else. Permanent employees would effectively be gagged from making any public criticism of the organization or Battistelli (“shall abstain from any act and, in particular, any public expression of opinion which may reflect on the dignity of his office”).
We can’t help wondering if the person or group responsible for generating all this negative publicity by banning IP Kat (apparently for less than a day) will face consequences for inability to grasp concepts such as free speech, truth-telling, and the Streisand Effect. What a failure. Like we said at the very start, the EPO “shot itself in the foot (again!),” but it continues to block Techrights so McCarthy’s headline, “EPO ends news censorship,” is not entirely accurate. There’s still McCarthyism at the EPO.
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