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10.16.16

Outline of Latest Press Coverage Regarding the European Patent Office (EPO)

Posted in Europe, Patents at 12:57 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

EPO article in French:

EPO article in French

EPO article in Greek:

EPO article in Greek

EPO article in English:

EPO article in English

And lots more to come…

Summary: European media is beginning to cover scandals associated with the European Patent Office (EPO), in spite of Battistelli’s attempt to silence and manipulate it, at the expense of millions of Euros per year

TIRED AFTER a sleepless night (covering EPO news right after the historic meeting had ended), we have finally recovered and can now resume coverage of the topic. Here is a 5-part explanation of what happened on Wednesday and Thursday (behind closed doors and in the streets of The Hague):

  1. EPO Administrative Council Meeting Turning Point – Part I: Protest at The Hague and the Huge Things at Stake
  2. EPO Administrative Council Meeting Turning Point – Part II: More Photos From Today’s Protest at The Hague
  3. EPO Administrative Council Meeting Turning Point – Part III: How Benoît Battistelli Planned to Expand His Attacks on EPO Staff (But Failed)
  4. EPO Administrative Council Meeting Turning Point – Part IV: When ~1,200 EPO Workers March in Protest and European Politicians Say “Battistelli Must Go”
  5. EPO Administrative Council Meeting Turning Point – Part V: “Siegfried Bross as President of the Boards of Appeal!”

Some more information about the The Hague demonstration was sent to us at the end of the week. The below message was posted by SUEPO The Hague on Facebook (late on Thursday or on Friday): “about 600 colleagues gathered today peacefully in The Hague to again and again request fairness and justice at EPO, this after another demo in Munich where also ca. 600 colleagues gathered to ask for the same.

“NL MP John Kerstens and FR MP Philip Cordery were again supportive of the demonstrants since they care for fundamental rights.

THANKS TO YOU ALL”

We have meanwhile received a translation of an article in French, published just days before the above in one of the largest papers in France. In English (with our emphasis):

In the discreet and civilized world of international organizations, the event is a very rare practice. The meetings scheduled Tuesday, 11 October, in Munich, and Thursday, 13 October, in The Hague, by the examiners of the European Patent Office (EPO) are yet just the latest in a long series [of meetings] started in 2013. The employees [of the EPO] have used this method to alert the 38 States meeting in the Council of Administration on 12 and 13 October about a workplace grievance which has remained unresolved for more than three years.

“This is not about money, money will not be the issue. We are not talking about remuneration to the “Board”. With more than EUR 5 000, the sum payable to employees on being hired, to which is added the payment of a premium based on being employed as an expatriate [that is, working in a country that is considered to be not the employees’ home country], and with children’s school-fees paid, and with a few other benefits, the employees will know that they are well paid. To attract scientists from all countries, the EPO Agency has had to indeed align on the best paid officials in Europe. Except that the money is not everything.

The EPO is one such international organization as its role is to identify a narrow field of /small handle/ intellectual property/ in the world, [and] the legal /status to share/ basis on which it can be made available to others/. The [EPO], whose headquarters is located in Munich and has branch offices in Berlin, The Hague and Vienna, employs 7 000 people to examine the applications of inventors, and issue in three languages the valuable patents of which it holds the monopoly for forty years.

In July 2010, the French Benoît Battistelli took over the reins. It is shortly after the arrival of this former Director General of the National Institute of Industrial Property (INPI) that the working conditions have deteriorated,…”

The above is imperfect and in fact an improved and complete translation would be very useful. As it stands, however, it does help one get the gist of this story.

As of today, SUEPO links to this article in Greek, whose headline is translated as saying “EPO: Patented medieval working conditions” (manual translations would be desirable); in addition to this, published on a Friday morning by Kieren McCarthy of The Register was the following detailed article that describes Battistelli as “terrifying boss”. It’s based on an open letter that we mentioned here before and it says:

Staff at the European Patent Office (EPO) have asked its administrative council to adopt new guidelines to protect them from the organization’s rampaging president.

The open letter [PDF] urges the council – which meets this week in Munich – to adopt the same rules for disciplinary proceedings and internal investigations that are being developed at another scandal-hit international organization, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

The letter comes as EPO president Benoit Battistelli continues an extraordinary campaign of intimidation of union leaders at the organization that has led to repeated strikes at the EPO and a determined effort to push the president out at the administrative council’s previous meeting in July.

Since that failed attempt to boot Battistelli out, he has continued efforts to eject a number of union officials who resisted wide-ranging reform efforts, despite having been formally rebuked by the council and instructed to stop with his investigations.

A number of union officials have been suspended on questionable charges and have been under constant pressure to quit the organization, including the threat of withdrawals of their pensions. The suspensions follow an extraordinary campaign of intimidation through a special investigation unit set up by Battistelli, which included tapping people’s phones and sending investigators to their homes, as well as planting highly damaging allegations about specific individuals in the press.

Battistelli’s efforts to rid himself of anyone who opposes his reform proposals have been stymied by the organization’s structures, so the president has made repeated efforts to rewrite EPO rules to give himself increasing amounts of power over decisions – leading us to dub him “King Battistelli.”

[...]

Despite the allegations and extremely strong criticism leveled at WIPO by the US Congress, in which it called WIPO “the FIFA of UN agencies,” Gurry is still in his position and most recently attempted to get rid of its staff council in order to exert greater personal power over the organization.

The WIPO guidelines are designed to protect staff in future from a management team with its own agenda. EPO’s staff hope that by pushing for them to be adopted by the EPO too, it will both protect them and flag the continued abuses of Battistelli and his team.

The comments on this are few and rather short. No doubt the EPO harms the EU by giving it a bad name. As one person put it:

And yet, for largely political reasons, the Administrative Council – which consists of representatives from all the European countries that make up the EPO – refuses to fire the president.

It’s stuff like this that means I’m beginning to warm up to the whole Brexit thing.

“If only it were being run on the same lines as the IICSA,” one person responded. “Except that the EPO is not an organ of the EU – at all,” another person added. But a lot of people don’t know this. To them, the EPO is like an arm of the EU or the very notion/philosophy that Europe should be united with its centre/heart in the main continent.

Another person remarked: “Reforms?

“As with those done in the UK, you need to indicate the possible reality by calling them “reforms”.

“This quotation marks would indicate that someone had used the word but that they were not necessarily truly an advancement or improvement.”

A person then responded with: “Perhaps the best reform is to bulldoze the EPO and WIPO management and start over? I recommend a Cat D10.”

Regarding the name “King Battistelli” — a term which McCarthy routinely repeats (not because of McCarthyism but because the staff of the EPO calls him that in a derogative fashion) — another person wrote: “By the sound of all this – why ‘King’ when ‘Duce’ seems so much more appropriate?”

As far as we are aware, there are quite a few journalists and several publications that are going to write about the EPO in the coming week. Battistelli wasted a lot of money trying to prevent this, but he cannot just devour all the media all around the world. It would instantaneously bankrupt the whole Office.

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