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07.11.16

“We Need to Inform [Politicians, Journalists ... Ministers or Representatives] that the Whole European Patent System is at Risk.”

Posted in Courtroom, Europe, Patents at 6:03 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Team Battistelli dragged back to The Hague this week

International Criminal Court
International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague. Photo credit: Reuters

Summary: Ahead of this week’s proceedings against the EPO, reports of the EPO’s latest (top-level management) violations, aggression, and dangerous push towards EPO extinction

THE last time IP Watch wrote about the EPO it was a puff piece with Battistelli in it (a so-called ‘interview’ that had softball questions). Earlier today IP Watch published this long piece from which we quote some key parts with added highlights:

Special Report: Union Lawsuit Claims EPO Has Prevented It From Functioning; Office Claims Immunity

Deteriorating relations between European Patent Office (EPO) management and staff union SUEPO have sparked another lawsuit in the district court in The Hague, Netherlands. The matter, which will be heard in a 15 July summary proceeding, alleges a pattern of threats, dismissals, suspensions from service and gagging of union members, said Prakken d’Oliveira attorney Liesbeth Zegveld, who represents SUEPO and its Dutch branch. Around one-third of union officials have been suspended, investigated or gagged, effectively preventing the union from functioning, she said in an interview.

The lawsuits are just part of the ongoing turmoil affecting the EPO. Reform of the Boards of Appeal (BoA) has also proved controversial, and there are concerns about the reluctance of the Administrative Council to get a grip on the staff-management battle.

The EPO said that, as an international organisation, it has immunity from such suits, as recently held by a German court. It defended its changes to the BoA, and announced an autumn conference for stakeholders to discuss an independent study on office social issues.

[...]

As for staff efforts to spur the AC to take control of the downward-spiralling situation: In a 22 June letter, the EPO-FLIER team, which identifies itself as “a group of concerned staff of the EPO who wish to remain anonymous due to the prevailing harsh social climate and absence of rule of law” at the office, begged Council members to assert their “fiduciary duty” over the organisation.

The AC took responsibility when it issued a resolution with “clear and achievable objectives for the President,” the open letter said. “Very briefly there was a marked improvement of the atmosphere in the Office.” But instead of complying with the unambiguous instructions, Battistelli has challenged his supervisory body, it said. “Mr. Battistelli is causing immeasurable damage to the Office; he is now untenable.”

Among other problems, the letter said, applicants have started noticing a decline in the quality of EPO patents, and, because of the ongoing disputes, the office no longer attracts the same calibre of staff. The letter also noted Battistelli’s continuing disregard for staff rights. “And all the time, the members of the Office’s only supervisory body watch it happen.”

“I believe the situation is now so bad and dangerous at the EPO that it is time that public, patent attorneys, economists and company bosses assemble and act together,” one staff member wrote in anonymous comments published on 3 July. “Make a petition, use your professional or private network if you know politicians, journalists, economist, write to ministers or representatives. We need to inform them that the whole European Patent System is at risk.”

There are also lots of lies and whitewashing from EPO spokespeople in this article (we rebutted these talking points in the past).

In relation to the boards’ planned ‘exile’, which we wrote about this morning, one person recalls old problems and says: “Another badly prepared project at the EPO, very common nowadays” (more so than ever before, by far). With context:

Thanks to Leidschendam for the link to the EPO building that was intended at the time. I find the design far more original that than of the future new Main :

http://www.epo.org/about-us/office/building.html

The rumor concerning the non-constructed building in Leidschendam was that after buying the land, it turned out that the land was not suitable for supporting a big building and the EPO had to sell it for other purposes (such as for houses, which are supposedly lighter than an office building), making a huge loss. Another badly prepared project at the EPO, very common nowadays – just check out what is coming with Early certainty (for examination and opposition)

“Never mind that in other posts the investigation units was found bugging public computers and fabricating facts,” said another person, alluding to Battistelli’s sheer arrogance and his attack on the course of justice:

I find the discussion about the independence of the boards somewhat strange. Haven’t you read the title of the post and the linked documents? Battistelli opinion on the boards is quite clear: they are here to directly follow the conclusions of the investigation unit. Never mind that in other posts the investigation units was found bugging public computers and fabricating facts. The boards work is to do as Battistelli says.
I heard Battistelli privately say a year ago that since he is paying the salary of the boards, he should get what he paid for. I think this is the idea behind the new fee structure: if the boards want to be independent, they should self finance.
In private Battistelli is a relatively simple man: he pays, he wants obedience. The real problem here is that the Council agreed. They did not distanciate from the letter, they did not even raise the point in the last session.

At the EPO, says another person sarcastically:

I fail to see the problem with the Council.
The Council has learned the virtue of OBEDIENCE.
The Council delegations comply with Simon Cameron’s definition of an “honest politician” (“An honest politician is one who, when he is bought, will stay bought.”)

The real problem seems to be the pig-headed stubborness of the Boards of Appeal which have yet to learn this lesson.

More on the same topic:

Question: other than a resolution at an AC meeting, is there a mechanism by which the President of the EPO can be censored (or even dismissed / have his immunity lifted)?

If the answer to this is no, then can BB rest assured that, so long as he is able to control the agenda for each and every AC meeting, there will always be sufficient (and lengthy) distractions that will prevent the AC from ever reaching a decision that is adverse to him?

If this is the case, then the members of the AC who are at all concerned about the serious damage that is being done by BB to the reputation of the EPO ought to figure out a way of changing the way that the game is played at AC meetings.

What is gratifying to see is that more and more people now recognise and speak about the risk of the EPO alienating talented staff, reducing patent quality, and letting a nutcase like Battistelli run the show. The sooner he is removed from Office (along with his cronies), the better chance of a quicker recovery the Office will have. Right now it’s just a total mess and it harms Europe as a whole. Patent examiners know this.

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