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12.11.16

EPO ‘Reform’ Seems to Strive for Echo Chamber Mentality, Elimination of Unions, Crackdown on Experienced (Well-Paid) Employees, and Departure From Patent Quality

Posted in Europe, Patents at 11:34 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Decline in quality of patents requires decline in quality (and salary) of examiners and judges, too

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Summary: The latest observations, based on information from various sources, regarding the working conditions and strategy of the European Patent Office

THE EPO is in shambles, but the management continues to pretend that everything is rosy. In fact, continuing a trend of greenwashing (and patenting of plants) the EPO now brags about this event report (warning: epo.org link) — something about “climate change mitigation” and reputation laundering of the EPO’s French Chief Economist Yann Ménière, whom we wrote about before (also recall the former Chief Economist's negative take on the EPO's current policies). This “yes men” phenomenon at Battistelli’s French-centric EPO has shut the door on dissent, scepticism, and plurality of views. Now it’s eliminating many members of staff too. Those who haven’t left yet (e.g. early retirement) seem to be on limited time, or on a short lifeline. They are expected to produce more than they feasibly can (while providing a decent service), they are expected to not fall ill (they cannot afford loss of days), and there are other unreasonable demands that drive them away if not to illness, then to incapacity or even suicide. Battistelli is working people to death, sometimes literally. Labour rights receive nothing but scorn from Team Battistelli and new hires may struggle to join the union (SUEPO) because of Battistelli’s (and Bergot’s) shameless attacks on people wishing to sign up and those enlisting them.

“Those who haven’t left yet (e.g. early retirement) seem to be on limited time, or on a short lifeline.”Hiring of low-paid interns instead of full-time staff at the EPO is something that the EPO continues advertising this month (almost every day now). There are variations therein and the ‘job’ openings (scare quotes because these are internships, not commitments) range from external boards to internal patent assessment. Are these internships or internments? To many people the EPO feels like a prison, only a little less tolerable and inviting (but with a higher salary to almost compensate for that daily ordeal).

“Universities, research centres and technology transfer officers should have a look at this,” the EPO wrote on a separate occasion a few days ago. I responded with: “Do they know that as guests they’ll be spied on with hidden cameras and keyloggers?”

The EPO is apparently having some other guests these days; one of them, Bastian Best, habitually visits the EPO and is proud of it (he knows about the surveillance). He wrote ahead of the latest EPO event about software patents: “Looking forward to terrific speeches on #industry40, #IoT and #softwarepatents!”

“Under Battistelli, anything goes. “Production” is measured in cancerous terms. Quality is merely a nuisance. Good examiners are a nuisance. Prior art searches are a nuisance (as they lower grant rates).”It seems as though even insiders — people who actually examine patents — noticed that they are granting software patents. Some tell us about it, though it’s clearly against the instructions from the European Parliament. Pressure from the top compels them to do this. Any “methods for playing games are not patentable in Europe,” Benjamin Henrion wrote in response to this tweet seeking to associate games with patents (“Throwback Thursday patent – Monopoly game invented by C B Darrow in 1935.”)

Under Battistelli, anything goes. “Production” is measured in cancerous terms. Quality is merely a nuisance. Good examiners are a nuisance. Prior art searches are a nuisance (as they lower grant rates). In fact, judging by this new comment, there’s a plan for getting rid of people by means of a crooked justice system and some believe that the disgusting yellow union of Battistelli will help:

Having read that monsieur le President wishes to amend the ServReg once again, I wonder whether he has consulted the FFPE-EPO as per their beloved Memorandum of Understanding….

This all being so short term, I suppose not.
Has FFPE said anything yet?

Will they draw conclusions from this, or will they once again underline how important it is to sit at a table?

To quote the above: “Has FFPE said anything yet?”

No, they are about as non-existent or secretive as Battistelli himself. Their Web site is still a fossil, too. They’re like Battistelli moles, so the less they say, the better. Whenever they speak out we receive a leak and it makes FFPE-EPO look even worse.

On the prospects of FFPE-EPO being used as a weapon by Battistelli (against SUEPO) this one person wrote: “They are probably licking their lips at the prospect of being appointed by the President to the committees where they can sit in judgment on the appeals of their SUEPO colleagues…”

With a yellow FFPE-affiliated union inside the EPO it’s important to be selective and careful who to trust and speak to. Snitches and other forms of betrayal seem to have become a dirt-digging mechanism, preceding some disciplinary procedures. In the Stasi days one might have labeled the likes of FFPE-EPO “informants”.

If the above comments have substance to them, it would be classic yellow union move — fighting the unions off against one another while management supports/arms/protects only one side (the small one) to suppress the real union.

“EPO has become an experiment for wanna be fascists,” said this additional comment. “Examiners were worthy of high salaries to prevent/ avoid corruption from applicants (patents are after all serious business). Now they are being bought off by threats and Battistelli bonusses.”

Punishing many people collectively and reducing their salaries based on docility is another tool of an oppressor. Interns aside, read the following comment:

And where do you think the volunteers from staff members for this may come? I suspect even if not consulted, there may be a retrospective approval once they can get a bit more power. And more of a chance of a bonus?

Speaking of which, BB had announced his intention to give a’collective bonus’ for 2016 – but only to about 70% of staff. Particularly to those who ‘contributed significantly to the success of major office wide projects’. Mmm.

Battistelli is playing a toxic (to the reputation of the EPO) game with budget and money that’s not even his (applicants pay to maintain their EPs). He is said to have repeatedly incentivised (bribed) for votes, he definitely paid for media bias, etc. Corruption is quickly becoming synonymous with the EPO and those who will suffer most are EPO workers unless their contact only lasts a few months (like interns’).

Welcome to a brave new EPO. Maybe it should be renamed SEPO (“S” for “Sordid”) to better resemble the name “SIPO” (in China and in Croatia). After all, SIPO seems to have become Battistelli’s role model for labour/human rights and patent quality.

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