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06.09.16

Dutch Media Reveals That Battistelli Continues His Vicious War on Staff Unions, Laurent Prunier the Latest Casualty (The Hague)

Posted in Europe, Patents at 7:59 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Worse than doing none of what the Administrative Council demanded

Battistelli in Dutch media

Summary: “Last week,” says Dutch media, Laurent Prunier from SUEPO in The Hague “got delivered its final report. Conclusion: guilty of “misconduct” that undermine Battistelli’s leadership.”

THE EPO is busy distracting from today's protests which we'll expand on in our next post. But not all the media received money from the EPO (at Battistelli’s request), nor does it drink that silly EIA16 Kool-Aid.

As one person pointed out in IP Kat the other day, “the EPO is back again in the NL reputable press” (pointing to this new bit of negative publicity from the Dutch mainstream media).

Well, “translations welcome,” we said, and we believe the article was well overdue because of the latest protests (to be covered later). Only a day later SUEPO added a link to this article and Petra Kramer, a native Dutch speaker, prepared a translation for us and remarked: “Not one bit of progress has been made.”

Here is the full translation with important bits highlighted in yellow:

Private war between CEO and and the union of the patent office is not over yet

Labour conflict Again there is hassle in the European Patent Office. The ruthless nature of CEO Battistelli is a concern for Member States.

Eppo König

June 9, 2016

Earlier this year it seemed or Battistelli President of the EPO would resign.

The war between President Benoît Battistelli of the European Patent Office (EPO) and its trade union continues. While the Frenchman Thursday in Lisbon rewards the inventor of the year, his staff in The Hague holds a protest march along the embassies of EU Member States. “Our management is bullying and intimidating trade union and works council members in a manner that would be unacceptable in your country,” they wrote to the ambassadors.

The patent office (38 States, 7,000 employees) is the largest intergovernmental organization in Europe, after the European Commission. The agency reviews patent applications and grants European patents. Headquartered in Munich, inter alia, an office in Rijswijk.

Early this year, tensions at the EPO were so high that it seemed as if Battistelli (65) would resign. The highest body of the Agency, the Management Board representing the 38 Member States, forced Battistelli to hold back against union SUEPO.

The intervention followed the dismissal of two trade union leaders, the Dutch Els Hardon, union president in Munich, its German predecessor Ion Brumme. Treasurer Malika Weaver is cut in her salary. The official accusations are conspiring against Battistelli and bullying a member of the council who was pro-Battistelli.

Guilty of misconduct

But the president is not finished with the union, which represents half of the employees. The own research unit of the EPO completed the research of union secretary Laurent Prunier, who was too stressed to work and has been on unpaid leave for five months. Last week he got delivered its final report. Conclusion: guilty of “misconduct” that undermine Battistelli’s leadership.

“Either you have not understood the resolution of the Member States or you ignored it from the beginning,” Prunier’s lawyer Liesbeth Zegveld wrote in a letter to all Member States and Battistelli last week. The president was indeed summoned to suspend all pending proceedings against trade unionists. He needs the review the ‘disciplinary procedures’ to ensure that they are fair and that the are seen that way by the outside world.

The point is that the patent office as an international organization is not covered by national labour law. We are immune to our rules and can not be judged through Dutch eyes, says Battistelli. In refusing to recognize trade union SUEPO he is in defiance of the Hague Court. Employees with a labour dispute should go to the International Labour Organization, a slow UN body in Geneva. The office in Rijwijk uses a Belgian company doctor that is not registered as a doctor in the Netherlands.

Just as the agency has its own research unit – which hears employees without a lawyer present, is the criticism of the union. Even independent research confirms that the “integrity” and “ethical behavior” in this package can be improved. A “very clear” definition of misconduct must be drawn up, according to a report from May. The service should clearly explain how e-mail and computers are investigated. And above all: the unit must operate independently of the president.


“The research unit will answer without a lawyer workers there”


The case Prunier can end up as a sensitive issue this month as the management board meets again. Major countries, such as Netherlands, Germany, France, Sweden and Switzerland, have heavily criticized by Battistelli, according to sources. The negative publicity about the conflicts harm the reputation of the agency, which has outstanding patent researchers. The incidents embarrass host countries such as the Netherlands because intervention is almost impossible.

In substantive terms critical Member States do agree with Battistelli. They support the reforms he has implemented, such as investment in IT and bonuses for performance instead of seniority. The Member States’ concern lies primarily with the ruthless, irascible character Battistelli. He seems to wage a private war against a union, which is just as war-like as the president himself. The conflict thereby is also hindering business operations, such as the reform of the pension system.

As the president of the EPO Battistelli has a lot of power, the 38 Member States can not do much. There is no impeachment procedure in the regulations, apart from the question of whether or not a majority of the Member States would support it. The more time passes, the closer Battistelli gets to the end of his term. That could mean two long years of conflict, lawsuits and bad publicity.

The patent office does not respond to individual cases, said a spokesman. The agency says that the management board is regularly informed on the reform of investigations and sanctions.

As we are going to show in our next post, it’s likely that not only Prunier is under additional attacks from Battistelli, who is truly crazy and detached from reality (perhaps he feels like he’s totally unsackable). Is Jesus, who reportedly suffered mental breakdowns due to the vicious attacks on him (and apparently his wife too came under veiled attacks), next in Battistelli’s firing line, for the alleged ‘crime’ of helping to conduct a staff survey? Based on patterns of the EPO's actions against SUEPO, The Hague is next, after all the attacks in Munich (which still exacerbate further).

Correction (10/6/2016): The “NRC Translation,” a reader told us, had a “factual error” as follows:

I spotted an important factual error from the document translated that requires clarification to best illustrate how the current regime acts:

Laurent Prunier is not on unpaid leave contrary to what is here written. The current administration cut 100% of his remuneration since January (!) although Laurent has been certified sick by his treating GP and by the GP designated as Arbiter. This is of course nothing else but a harsh disciplinary sanction, this time without even a board of discipline! That’s very different than being on unpaid leave ;)

Thanks for correcting this small but important detail!

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