Cases Against the European Patent Office (EPO) and the Demise of Transparency International (Which EPO Partly ‘Absorbed’)
Summary: Accountability at the EPO takes two steps forward (two new ILO cases) and one step backward (Transparency International going more or less defunct in Germany), but workers continue to speak out and demand change
“EXCEPTIONAL public delivery” from the ILO is expected very soon (later this month). This was mentioned here about a week ago and a few days ago this news from ILO came out, specifying exactly which cases were set apart to be published separately, probably because they are more important. To quote the news:
The Tribunal will exceptionally deliver in public four judgments adopted at its 123rd Session separately and earlier than the remaining 93 judgments adopted at the same session.
The four judgments are:
- No. 3723: Atil No. 2 v. WMO (application for execution of Judgment 3348)
- No. 3750: Mngola v. Global Fund
- No. 3785: Fritz No. 2 v. EPO
- No. 3796: Vermeulen v. EPO
Those judgments will be announced in public on Wednesday, 30 November 2016 at 3 pm at the ILO (Room XI, floor R2).
They will be published on the Tribunal’s website (ilo.org/trib) shortly after the delivery.
Geneva, 15 November 2016
Dražen Petrović, Registrar
These two EPO cases (third and fourth above) are probably of high impact and more profound than, e.g. the van Breda case which SUEPO is pressing on
[PDF] (more to do with finance and illness, less with human rights), but we shall know for sure at the end of this month.
“Put simply, the EPO hires some of the potential overseers/critics, which is a common technique that only the affluent can afford to pull off (oil companies habitually do this in countries that they pollute).”Making the EPO wholly accountable or holding particular managers accountable where they deserve it has gotten rather difficult not just because of impunity/immunity (with ILO being years behind, drowning in additional EPO complaints) but also entryism. Put simply, the EPO hires some of the potential overseers/critics, which is a common technique that only the affluent can afford to pull off (oil companies habitually do this in countries that they pollute).
Transparency International (TI) ‘merger’ or overlap with the EPO was noted here before, giving as a prominent example Jana Mittermaier, ex-Transparency International worker and now PR person for the EPO (or “Mittermaier the Liar” as I cautiously called her the other day, after she had relayed the management's lies about its union-busting activity).
“TI, say what?”
That’s what one reader told us about them.
“TI is in crisis, too,” this readers added. “Have you read the very bad news about recent Transparency International “issues”?”
We were actually not aware of it, but it’s very fresh news (days old in the press, as recent as a couple of days ago, i.e. Friday). “Read Stuttgarter Zeitung (in German),” our reader told us, “and perhaps better to understand read in English” the following:
Transparency International is in crisis. The organization needs to cut costs and restructure its international secretariat in Berlin. At the same time, Transparency is fighting against its workers’ council in the local courts. In a bid to ease tensions, Transparency has also now made changes to its leadership.
The current court case in the Berlin labour court highlights the difficulties Transparency has in dealing with its own staff. The organisation is currently restructuring its Berlin-based international secretariat. The secretariat is the backbone of the global organisation, supporting the national chapters in their work. But over time, a number of well-paid executives have assembled near the top during the tenure of managing director Cobus de Swardt, who has been at the helm of Transparency for nearly a decade. This week, the South African national has lost some of his responsibilities to a newly-appointed second managing director, according to information obtained by correctiv.org.
To cut costs, Transparency sought to flatten hierarchies and cut staff. The organisation’s workers council attempted to strengthen employee rights by establishing a so-called finance committee (German: Wirtschaftsausschuss). Such a committee can for example demand management to disclose certain financial information. Transparency’s management is trying to prevent the formation of this committee, even filing a legal case against it.
This bodes negatively not just for the EPO but also for Germany. And it’s not all that much better in The Hague, where a Dutch speaker (speaking on behalf of the EPO) got away with saying on Dutch television that he would snub the highest court in the country!
“A disaster for the whole European Patent system is on its way, watch the soon upcoming decisions of the German Bundesverfassungsgericht on its constitutionaly [sic].”
–AnonymousNeanderthal standards in the Netherlands towards journalists and bloggers too can be tolerated? Remember that the EPO threatens me over my writings about the EPO and it also banned/blocked IP Kat to suppress access/publication. Where were Dutch politicians when the EPO threatened publishers and around the same time spoon-fed Dutch ‘journalists’ some libel to spread (publish) about an accused judge whom Battistelli does not like?
What on Earth has the EPO become and how is it allowed to get away with these actions in supposedly civilised nations that sport international courts? Many EPO insiders keep asking those same kinds of questions. In Merpel’s latest writings there is an implicit/subtle call for outside intervention. There are 20+ comments in that first comment thread (about the accused judge), but to quote a little selectively (there’s some noise among the signal there), this is “so sad” and “disaster for the whole European Patent system is on its way, watch the soon upcoming” (link to comment). The full comment says: “This is all so sad. The mere fact that the members of the boards of appeal just carry dealing with their cases instead of loudly protesting against this incredible situation demonstrates how little remains of their independence and judicial status. A disaster for the whole European Patent system is on its way, watch the soon upcoming decisions of the German Bundesverfassungsgericht on its constitutionaly [sic].”
“In case it is decided to ignore your suggestions at the next administrative council we will have all our answers and better get ready for the end of the EPO.”
–AnonymousIn reply to that latter part one person wrote: “Please note that – different from what had been envisaged in the court’s outlook for 2016 – a decision (unfortunately) does not seem to be “soon upcoming” at all. This does not change by frequently claiming that the opposite was the case. Apart from that, bearing in mind the possible political impact of the decision and the manner the German Constitutional Court recently dealt with similar matters, I would be rather sceptical that any meaningful guidance can be expected, let alone a convincing solution.”
There are also some pro-Battistelli comments there (however few) and these take up a lot time and energy from the on-topic discussions.
“How many months more before your already widely dysfunctional institutions will descend into chaos?”
–Anonymous“Thank you so much Merpel,” one reader wrote. “A most accurate and detailed summary of the deeply sad situation under this president. I hope (I am sure) that this analysis will circulate to all interested parties. In case it is decided to ignore your suggestions at the next administrative council we will have all our answers and better get ready for the end of the EPO.”
Experience suggests that politicians care about these scandals only if/when they have something to politically gain from them. Some people now compare this to US politics (and election), noting that “the 24/7 freak show doing business under the brand of “US politics” hardly gives you any ground for gloating. How many months more before your already widely dysfunctional institutions will descend into chaos?”
“Maybe someone in the new US Administration will set their sights on the EPO.”
–AnonymousOne reply to this said: “Maybe someone in the new US Administration will set their sights on the EPO. The failure to provide a truly independent judicial review instance could arguably count as a breach of TRIPS. Grounds for an action against the EPO contracting states? Let’s see…”
We sure hope that some outside intervention (ILO is too slow and TI is virtually defunct) will save the EPO. If often seems like the Office and the supine Organisation cannot be saved anymore (as it’s too late, they’ve been rendered dysfunctional from the inside, compromising the very core structure as envisioned in the EPC). █