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Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella: women, don’t ask for a raise
Summary: Another example of the large (industrial) scale of sexual discrimination at Microsoft — a company that tries to advertise itself as diverse or tolerant and stigmatise Free/Open Source software (FOSS) as intolerant and/or not diverse
SEXUAL orientation-related and sexual discrimination at at workplace are a common theme. Microsoft’s propaganda mills, however, tried to stigmatise FOSS as hostile to minorities, women, and whatever else isn’t white, straight, middle-aged men.
Microsoft has got quite some audacity though. Microsoft’s hostility towards women [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8] and hostility towards gay people (or homophobia) [1, 2] were covered here before. Even Microsoft’s new CEO came under fire for it. The latest example of Microsoft sexism is reaching the press now. To quote The Register (one among very few that covered it):
Microsoft will have to defend itself against a lawsuit alleging that its employee rating system was biased against women.
A US district court in Washington has tossed out [PDF] the Redmond giant’s motion to dismiss a complaint lobbed at it by three women engineers, who allege the system for evaluating engineering and technical positions unfairly penalized them.
At issue is the Windows giant’s “Connect” system, the evaluation method Microsoft used to replace the much maligned “stack ranking” process for evaluating employee performance.
The engineers allege that the review system relies on manager and peer input from a group that is overwhelmingly male and, as a result, the female employees they evaluated may have missed out on raises and promotions.
“Plaintiffs allege these performance evaluation methods are ‘invalid’ because they ‘set arbitrary cutoffs among performers with similar performance’ and are ‘not based on valid and reliable performance measures’,” the court’s ruling, dated October 14, reads.
As we noted several months ago, sexism at Microsoft is systemic and a year ago we noted that it's not really a FOSS issue, in spite of a stereotype created and spread by the likes of Microsoft. Hence the relevance to FOSS… █
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Summary: The latest EPO cartoon, this time about European qualifying examination (EQE)
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WIPO and FIFA are small potatoes compared to the EPO…
Source (original): Rospatent
Summary: The latest hogwash from Team Battistelli (Pinocchio), the latest instance of software patents promotion by EPO Principal Director, and an old (decade-old) nugget of information from the Forum for Principal Directors
THE EPO has turned into an empire of lies, where the President has become virtually synonymous with Pinocchio, as we noted earlier today. The EPO not only lies a lot but also routinely breaks rules and laws (see this older tweet from October 7th, neglecting to say that the EPO does not obey the EPC, e.g. [1, 2]). Eponia has effectively detached itself from the Rule of Law.
Pinocchio wants the world to believe that nothing is amiss at the EPO. For the third time in less than a week the EPO is promoting this lie (for the self-deluding) that EPO staff is happy. “Our Social Conference enabled internal stakeholders to play an active role in the EPO’s future,” it said, but it wasn’t about stakeholders at all. In fact, the key stakeholders, like representatives of staff, were locked out. We’ll publish more details about that (best left for another day), having published some details earlier this month and last month. Here we have the latest puff piece in the “news” section of the EPO (warning:
epo.org link). “A joint statement was signed by EPO Vice President Raimund Lutz and Brazilian Industry Minister Marcos Pereira,” it says, alluding to a deal with INPI (not the French one that ‘took over’ the EPO and perhaps stained it for good). “Under the PPH pilot,” says the news [sic], “patent applicants from Europe and from Brazil will be able to request accelerated patent prosecution at the EPO or at Brazil’s National Institute of Industrial Property (INPI), which is expected to speed up the process and reduce costs for companies on both sides of the Atlantic.”
“Pinocchio wants the world to believe that nothing is amiss at the EPO.”As is often the case with these deals, the countries in question hardly have all that much at stake in the EPO. Take Cambodia for example (with zero patents at the EPO). Brazil has a massive population and not so few patents, but how many at the EPO? Not that many (relative to EU member states)…
Hogwash and marketing is what Raimund Lutz travels for.
The EPO has an affinity for Italy right now (not much of a prolific patenter either, or so we’re told) and it lobbies its politicians for the UPC amid Brexit, as noted here twice last week. Now it organises events in Italy (yet another one) and a separate new announcement says that “Maria Rosa Carreras from @OEPM_es will speak about the Quality at Source project at EPOPIC,” citing this new page with abstracts of talks (warning:
Curiously enough, based on this page at least, Grant Philpott’s talk will cover software patents. He just cannot help himself, can he? We wrote about it more than a year ago. Philpott, who absolutely does not want people to know what he did for Microsoft (enough to send me threatening letters about it), is propping up software patents again. Is it him who wrote the abstract which reads “software pervades through all technologies [thus] a greater debate on the patentability of software” or maybe an assistant of his? Whatever it is, such statements are tasteless, especially taking the EPC into account.
“The EPO has an affinity for Italy right now (not much of a prolific patenter either, or so we’re told) and it lobbies its politicians for the UPC amid Brexit, as noted here twice last week.”Here is the full abstract, complete with the “Industry 4.0″ buzzword: “The 4th Industrial Revolution – or “Industry 4.0″ – is the revolution of connectivity and distributed intelligence. It is characterised by driving technologies such as The Cloud, Big Data and the Internet of Things, and by the presence of computer technologies in every aspect of our lives. The consequences for IP are potentially tremendous, and they challenge some of the fundamental concepts of the system, such as the definition of “industry” and “inventor”. There will be a greater overlap and interplay between the types of rights, and as software pervades through all technologies a greater debate on the patentability of software. Patent offices will have to react to these changes, adapting their approaches. There will also be an impact on patent information and new challenges for patent searchers as a result of Industry 4.0.”
As a reminder, software patents are not allowed in Europe. Why do these people keep stomping on the EPC and the rules? Do they believe they’re somehow above the law and nobody will notice when they sidestep it?
Speaking of Principal Directors, someone sent us information related to them. “Today’s add-on,” we were told, is a “disgusting slide from something coined “Forum for Principal Directors”, back in 2006. Old, but very appalling, I hate the words “fear, isolation and punishment” even when being part of question, or discussion.”
Here is the inappropriate slide:
Philpott certainly used “fear, isolation and punishment” against me when he had EPO lawyers send me threatening legal letters late on a Friday night. Perhaps that’s just in the EPO’s culture, deeply embedded in the minds of the recruited and promoted (elevated to “Principal Director”, a fancy job title, along the lines of ranks at the British Army that Philpott came from*). These long ‘hooks’ of Eponia’s aggressive behaviour mean that while it enjoys immunity or impunity it feels absolutely eager to intimidate even bloggers who are far away from Eponia and have nothing to do with Eponia (except they write about it pro bono). █
* Certainly not thick-skinned for one who served any military as people have, in the past, asked for their names to be removed but did not send me threatening letters in an effort to take down entire articles.
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Summary: A local copy of a bunch of questions asked less than a month ago by Ulrike Müller at the European Parliament, regarding the unacceptable state of affairs at the European Patent Office (EPO)
IT has certainly been a while since we last saw (or heard) the EPO mentioned in the European Parliament, which has no direct authority over the EPO but should definitely be concerned about what happens in Eponia as it grossly violates the rights of European workers.
To ensure long-term preservation of the material we have copied it verbatim (it’s probably public domain if not Fair Use):
26 September 2016
Question for written answer
to the Commission
Ulrike Müller (ALDE)
Subject: Situation of staff working for the European Patent Office
Further to the replies to questions E-009256/2015 and E-000938/2016 can the Commission answer the following additional questions:
1. Bearing in mind that it acts as ‘guardian of the Treaties’, does the Commission see no legal possibility of enabling EPO employees to enjoy protection of their fundamental rights under Union law or of opening investigations into violations of fundamental rights, notwithstanding the fact that overseeing the application of Union law and applying the Treaties are, as specified in Article 17(1) TEU, one of its core tasks?
2. What proposals can it put forward, for instance in connection with future reforms of European primary and secondary legislation, in order to greatly strengthen its hand for the purpose of guaranteeing proper protection of fundamental rights within the EU and hence the EPO?
3. What practical steps has it taken in the current parliamentary term to encourage the dialogue between social partners referred to in the answer to Question E-009256/2015?
Here is the original in German:
26. September 2016
Anfrage zur schriftlichen Beantwortung
an die Kommission
Artikel 130 der Geschäftsordnung
Ulrike Müller (ALDE)
Betrifft: Situation der Beschäftigten in der Europäischen Patentorganisation
Kann die Kommission im Zusammenhang mit den Antworten auf die Anfragen E‐009256/2015 und E‐000938/16 die nachstehenden zusätzlichen Fragen beantworten:
1. Sieht die Kommission in ihrer Rolle als „Hüterin der Verträge“ selbst keine rechtlichen Möglichkeiten, den Grundrechtsschutz als Teil des Unionsrechts für die Bediensteten der EPO sicherzustellen bzw. wegen Grundrechtsverstößen Untersuchungen anzustellen, obwohl die Überwachung des Unionsrechts und die Anwendung der Verträge gemäß Artikel 17 Absatz 1 EUV eine ihrer zentralen Aufgaben ist?
2. Welche Vorschläge hat die Kommission, um beispielsweise im Rahmen künftiger Reformen im europäischen Primär‐ und Sekundärrecht ihre Möglichkeiten zur Gewährleistung eines angemessenen Grundrechtsschutzes auf dem Gebiet der Union und damit auch innerhalb der EPO maßgeblich zu verbessern?
3. Welche konkreten Maßnahmen hat die Kommission in der laufenden Wahlperiode ergriffen, um den in der Antwort auf die Anfrage E‐009256/2015 angesprochenen Dialog zwischen den Sozialpartnern anzuregen?
Hopefully Ulrike Müller and her colleagues at ALDE will reach out and attempt to help workers of the European Patent Office. They certainly need help and Eponia gives them none; all Eponia can give people are rude dismissal letters and disciplinary procedures that often end up in dismissal if not personal bankruptcy and/or physical/mental breakdown as well. █
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From Le Monde. which already covered the subject in the past
Summary: Le Monde, which covered EPO suicides and nervous breakdowns a year and a half ago, revisits the subject
SEVERAL months ago Board 28 admitted there was "a crisis" at the EPO, unequivocally refuting some of the nonsense from Battistelli — nonsense which we last wrote about several hours ago.
We previously published a partial English translation of this article in French, not sure if SUEPO would at some point get around to translating it. Well, they just have. Here is the full thing with our highlights in yellow:
Crisis in the open at the European Patent Office
LE MONDE | 11.10.2016 at 11.17 • Update at 11.10.2016 at 11.24 | By Emeline Cazi (/journaliste/emeline-cazi/)
In the discreet and urbane world of international organizations, demonstrations are a real rarity. But those scheduled for Tuesday, 11 October, in Munich, and Thursday 13 October in The Hague, by examiners at the European Patent Office (EPO) are simply the latest in a long line which started as far back as 2013. The staff have found this to be the only way to draw the attention of the 38 countries which are meeting on 12 and 13 October as the Administrative Council to a social situation which has been festering for more than three years.
Money is not an issue. One does not talk about vulgar things such as salaries at the “Office”. At a starting rate of more than 5 000 Euros, added to which are the expatriate allowance, schools for children paid for, and a range of other advantages as well, the staff know they are well off in that respect. To attract scientific expertise from all over the world, the Office has had to aim at making its employees the best paid in Europe. But money isn’t everything.
The EPO is one of those international organizations of which there are only a small handful in the world, with its own rules and regulations. This one, with headquarters in Munich and outposts in Berlin, The Hague and Vienna, employs 7,000 people to examine the applications by inventors and to issue in three languages the precious patents, a monopoly which it has held for forty years.
In July 2010, Frenchman Benoît Battistelli took up the reins. It was shortly after the arrival of this former Director General of the Institut national de la propriété industrielle (National Industrial Property Institute – INPI) that working conditions started to deteriorate, according to Suepo, the in-house trade union. The man, who has a very individualistic concept of what the right to strike means, who has imposed productivity criteria, and who has created an “investigation unit” to monitor the staff, has become the man they love to hate. And the feeling is obviously mutual.
The Office enjoys a kind of legal immunity
Things have come a long way for this community of technical experts – those who were top of the class are the ones who come knocking at the door of the EPO do so not so much to make a career but rather because they appreciate the togetherness of ten nationalities and the peace and quiet of the job – to start regarding their gilded cage as hell.
In the past five years, four of them have done themselves to death. A Belgian, a father with a family, threw himself out of his office window in The Hague. Another committed suicide on the last day of his holiday. After each of these dramas, the union demanded an independent enquiry. The management would not hear of it, insisting that these events had nothing to do with the work. For the unions, that was the last straw.
The problem is that, like all international organizations (the OECD, the European Space Agency, and others), the EPO enjoys a form of legal immunity: no national law can be imposed on it. Only the internal rules and regulations apply.
“It’s a problem with all these organizations. If things are going right, then everything’s fine. But the slightest grain of grit, and there’s nothing you can do about it”, says Parliamentary Deputy Philip Cordery, one of the representatives of French citizens abroad, who has been drawing the attention of successive governments and ministers of industry to the situation at the EPO.
“Three years ago something snapped”
There was a time when it was great working at the Office. Conditions were so pleasant that people were even postponing their retirement. Andreas, a biologist trainer, had envisaged going on until he was 63. He “threw in the towel” earlier, “like a lot of people recently”.
With a handful of others, he was prepared to confide in Le Monde, on the condition that his anonymity was protected, and that the meeting place was far away from The Hague. “You understand, if anyone found out that I’d been talking …. Even in retirement, I have to be careful about what I say.” He did not want to suffer the same fate as one of his colleagues, whose pension was slashed by 30%.
“Three years ago something snapped”, he says. “The work was still interesting, but the working environment became intolerable.” The autocratic and tactless methods adopted by the new President did not fit. As far as this particular technical expert is concerned, imposing production criteria on an organization with plenty to spare, with an annual budget of 2 billion, and of which the patents are reputed to be almost immune from attack in terms of law, is simply nonsensical.
By tradition, and because an examiner only becomes operational at the end of a three-year period, the old hands support the newcomers. “In that respect, I’ve seen colleagues refuse to help new arrivals for fear of losing time, and on the pretext that it won’t do anything for them, now that we’re being evaluated on reaching our targets…”
It was precisely to reject this policy of numbers that Sylvia agreed to talk.
“The management is not only destroying the working conditions, but also the European economic system. The patents which we issue are not so good. And a fall in quality will have consequences for industry”, she says despondently. “There’s money at stake.”
Since the union Suepo started criticising the climate of fear and tension in which the staff are working, a number of its representatives have been targeted for disciplinary procedures. France, Germany, and Great Britain have taken some action, and in March demanded that the Administrative Council suspend any proceedings until such time as an independent social audit has been carried out. At the end of September the audit had still not been undertaken, but the General Secretary of Suepo at The Hague was called before a disciplinary committee. Two other staff members are involved.
“Far from any common ground”
The staff representatives are calling it harassment of the union. The management see no connection:
“These proceedings are the result of a complaint about bullying, defamation, and threats, which have incurred the resignation of a staff representative” is their response. Ms. Amélie Lefebvre, from the law firm of Bourdon, and legal advisor to Suepo, deplores the fact that “Mr. Battistelli, who does not feel himself bound by his own Administrative Council or by national laws, is taking refuge behind his functional immunity to take such brutal measures of repression against those who call his social policy into question”.
“If, after two years, sanctions like this are being taken against the staff representatives, then we’re far from any common ground”, is the way Deputy Philip Cordery sees it. On 13 October he will be marching side by side with the staff.
In the coming few posts we’ll show that the above isn’t an isolated incident of concern from the European media, in spite of Battistelli's attempt to gag and control it at huge expense to the EPO.█
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Also see: New Leaked Document Shows Board 28 Surprised Battistelli and Had a Long Unilateral Argument With Him Over Union-Busting (‘Disciplinary Cases’), Called It a “Crisis”
In the words of Board 28 (screenshot with filter)
Summary: Still in denial (or self-deluding for self indulgence), Battistelli writes about the EPO as though everything is rosy and people are happy
The latest lies from Battistelli are basically more of the same. His name inside the EPO has become virtually synonymous with Pinocchio and he continues to live in his fantasy world, surrounded by “yes men” who are equally brainwashed, self-deluding or simply afraid of the boss with his infamous tantrums. Here is the PR/communication people linking to the latest nonsense from Battistelli’s “blog” (warning:
epo.org links may be spied on). We don’t want to repeat too many of his lies, but when he speaks of “first ever Social Conference in the history” of the EPO he basically means first time that very expensive lies and propaganda were needed. How much does it cost to distort the truth and why are Battistelli’s overseers allowing/tolerating this obvious case of waste and abuse (part of a broader pattern)?
We presume all of our readers already know what the “Social Conference” basically means. It’s a pack of lies that Battistelli bought from some private companies so that he can pretend to have an ‘independent’ assessment. “But for the event itself,” he says, “the true measure of success was the level of engagement by all. The number of requests to attend the conference far outstripped the number of places available and proceedings were followed online by thousands of our staff.”
Haha, that’s just rich!
“Whatever Battistelli does these days severely harms the reputation of the EPO; stakeholders are complaining.”We can imagine that some people chose to watch this horrifying parade of lies, maybe in order to ridicule it or watch how they were lied about. SUEPO was blocked from entering and no input was accepted. It’s like something out of the cookbook of North Korea’s regime. A week later these paid-for lies are being pushed/trotted out, right there in the EPO’s public Web site (while the actual documents are withheld internally). It’s total hogwash like WIPO’s hogwash just weeks ago.
Certainly, at this stage, Pinocchio Battistelli is just testing how long his nose can get before he’s unable to enter the door of his office, possibly having been belatedly dismissed by the Administrative Council. Whatever Battistelli does these days severely harms the reputation of the EPO; stakeholders are complaining.
We have become accustomed to these lies, which are getting more and more Orwellian (even absurd) over time and target not just the public but also staff and journalists (since last year). Does the JPO not know that Battistelli has all these skeletons in his closet? Why did it post this tweet (soon to be retweeted by the EPO) saying “JPO Commissioner Komiya had meeting with EPO’s President Battistelli and his colleagues”?
“No doubt a lot of money has been buried by Battistelli right there, if not just flushed down the toilet (or into the pockets of truly dodgy firms).”Battistelli (or Brexit) “will not be buried,” this new comment says, but “the Social Conference, on the other hand, never having breathed a single breath, so how would it ever get so far as to be buried?”
No doubt a lot of money has been buried by Battistelli right there, if not just flushed down the toilet (or into the pockets of truly dodgy firms). █
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The secretive Board 28′s Summary of Conclusions — from the EPO in 2009
Summary: How Battistelli’s (almost) all-male (and all-white, mostly French) management came into being, not too long after Ms Alison Brimelow got elbowed out the Office
THE OTHER day, writing about Roland Grossenbacher and recalling rumours about him and Battistelli [1, 2, 3, 4] (how they had seized greater power at the EPO), we got some additional information from within the Office.
“I just dug into my archive,” one person told us, “and found a document from May 2009: the Minutes of the Board 28 meeting of 6 May 2009, the day when Ms Alison Brimelow wrote her famous email informing staff “that she would not be seeking an extension of her contract as President of the Office”.” The information can be found below in full:
“A few days later she wrote another E-mail,” told us the source alluding to correspondence which we cited here before, “containing this phrase: “The Board 28 was pretty difficult, because we have two Alpha males in the room and they don’t always listen.“
“The Minutes of the Board 28 meeting may give a hint as to who the two Alpha males are.”
We leave that as an exercise to our readers. █
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Outcomes of 149th Administrative Council’s meeting at the EPO
Summary: The raw details or a summary thereof, based on the above which serves to confirm what we wrote about several days ago, right after the quarterly meeting had ended
Battistelli is losing (after a coup) and the EPO’s staff regains control of the Office which they work for, based on the outcomes of the 149th Administrative Council’s meeting at the EPO. What does that mean? It means a lot. Last week we covered the outcome based on hearsay from a lot of sources and finally we have the above leak, which helps reinforce what we said at the time. Also, via IP Watch‘s Twitter feed we have just found today’s article that’s titled “EPO Staff Welcome Withdrawal Of Unpopular Disciplinary Proposals”. To quote from this article:
Pressure from staff and now from members of the European Patent Office governing body has forced EPO President Benoît Battistelli to withdraw controversial proposals for disciplining and investigating employees, the Staff Union of the EPO (SUEPO) said on 17 October. The action was welcomed but the situation is far from resolved, staff members say.
The Administrative Council (AC) of the EPO, made of members of the office’s member states, met on 12-13 October. “This session did not go exactly according to plan,” SUEPO said in an update on the latest developments. Many delegations “pointed at indicators of the existing social problems such as the lack of trust in EPO management, the perceived lack of respect for staff, the high level of dissatisfaction among staff,” the union said.
The EPO press office did not respond to a request for comment by press time.
Staff representatives at the AC told governments they welcomed the change of tone, according to the source. They said that if ongoing disciplinary actions are stayed, SUEPO would consider suspending its strikes until December, the source added.
In its statement on outcomes of the AC meeting, the EPO said only that “two proposals for reform of the investigation and disciplinary procedures will be examined at a later stage.”
The union has been holding demonstrations to demand fundamental rights, the latest of which took placed in Munich and The Hague on 13 October. Each attracted around 600 staff members, it said.
Nothing is solved yet, because AC members appear on the one hand to be making better efforts to protect staff from management but on the other hand have extended the terms of all current vice-presidents, said the source. Council members apparently don’t intend to fire Battistelli, whose term ends on 30 June 2018, said the source.
We have a lot more in the pipeline regarding the EPO and we welcome input from all readers. Accountability is the goal and truth is the means. █
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