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12.19.16

EPO President Benoît Battistelli “Should Be in Prison”

Posted in Europe, Patents at 7:30 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Benoît Battistelli prisonSummary: A roundup of takes on the latest situation at the EPO, which is disintegrating before people’s eyes because the Administrative Council cares more about “carrots” (money) from Battistelli than about justice, integrity and the long-term sustainability of the European Patent Organisation

THE EPO is a total catastrophe that only keeps getting worse over time. Somehow the German media continues to ignore all the scandals and instead just covers talking points of the EPO’s management. We could use an English translation of this article by the way, especially parts of it that add new information (if any)…

Skipping the hogwash and the nonsense that Battistelli paid for dearly (not from his own pocket but the EPO’s), let’s look at what insiders and outsiders (like attorneys around Munich) say about the latest terrible exodus, which impacts a lot of people, not just a handful.

“After all,” one person wrote in relation to a comment about Haar being unsuitable for appellants or workers with wheelchairs, “the Isartor S-Bahn station does not have a lift either!”

The original commenter (mentioned here previously) responded with “not if you want to leave the exit on the northern side, only steps there.”

“An ever so slight amount of googling,” another person wrote, “will reveal that there IS a lift at the Haar S-Bahn station. Never let truth get in the way of a good rumor/story… Anybody remember Neuperlach and oral proceedings there…? Big fuss for nothing…”

As if the main question is whether or not the Boards of Appeal will have a lift (elevator) at the building and the nearby public transportation station. What a distraction from the bigger problem.

“True gentlemen are not so easily bought,” noted one person, alluding to delegates whom Battistelli is unable to ‘buy’ (he typically targets corruptible nations whose votes are cheaper to 'buy').

Here is the full comment:

That was a “gentlemen’s agreement”.

But for such an agreement you need to have gentlemen and they seem to be in short supply in the current ranks of the AC.

True gentlemen are not so easily bought.

Here is another:

As I already posted in a comment which hasn’t appeared, that was a “gentlemen’s agreement”.

For a gentlemen’s agreement you need to have gentlemen and they now seem to be in short supply.

True gentlemen are guided by principles not expediency.

Because the 'Mafioso' in chief (or Don), Battistelli, wants nobody but himself left with any power or independence, it seems clear that there’s no room for “gentlemen” anymore. Not even an Irish judge. “We are offering a limited number of one‑month internships with our boards of appeal,” the EPO wrote today. And no full-time jobs? After years of the boards being seriously understaffed? We wrote about this before.

Therein lie the truly alarming developments. The crushing of the boards is an ongoing process and the relocation (exile) to Haar is just one among several methods, such as price hikes that discourage appeals. Battistelli’s ‘bulldog’ used similar tactics in Croatia, in order to render people whom he feared redundant and shut them out.

“Now they are complicit too,” wrote a person about nations that let Battistelli trash the boards, sending them out of Munich to unfamiliar territory and all sorts of other issues:

If the big ones complain about being outvoted by the small countries, why did neither UK, FR,… request a weighted vote?
This has a financial impact, so they have a right to request it…

Now they are complicit too. Referring to “we voted no and lost” is not sufficient anymore!

A plethora of other comments continues to appear in a month-old two-part series from Merpel, who has not mentioned the EPO since.

“Possibly they discussed it behind closed doors,” wrote another person about the suspended judge (on “house ban”). To quote:

…as far as I know, the case of the suspended BoA member was not put on the agenda (which is proposed by the President of the Office). Possibly they discussed it behind closed doors, but I assume not.

Poor guy, I’ll be very interested to see what ILO-AT has to say about this case, once it gets there….

When are decisions about Battistelli’s abuses to be made? When will they discuss him grossly defying orders? Is that off the chapters/script now? All they have accomplished is growing uncertainty for the boards.

Despicable! Since a vacuum is now (at least temporarily) left in administration of the boards we suppose Battistelli can step in and make more of a mess of them, having recently lowered (reportedly halved) the salary of the judge whom he had illegally suspended more than 2 years ago.

What about Prunier (LP), whom Battistelli fired in defiance of clear, direct orders from the Council? Battistelli gets away with everything:

to be clear : IL and LP both NEED to be funded over a long period of time since they are both affected (eg their health condition suffered and they cannot seek for work in their situation) plus they have to organise their defense which will last for years whilst keeping them busy with the EPO, before to perhaps (or not) see their dismissal revoqued and get back at their EPO desk.

According to my information they both welcome small (one-off or monthly) donations which secure their future needs and give them also what they lost : a feeling of stability and material security.

Never mind the fact that ILO recently confirmed that legal proceedings at the EPO are mock trials and have been so for years?

Kieren McCarthy, a British journalist who is becoming ever more immersed in EPO matters, wrote this morning that “States seek to limit Napoleon-like tendencies of Benoit Battistelli” (near byline) and to quote bits from his article:

In response, EPO staff again asked the Administrative Council – which is the only body that can limit the president’s powers – to take action against Battistelli. It, again, failed to do so. Not only but that it also approved the latest proposal put forward by Battistelli to move the EPO’s Boards of Appeal (BoA) away from the EPO headquarters in Munich to a new building in the outskirts of the city, and it handed Battistelli effective control of the appeals committee until June next year.

There is some consternation over the BoA move, which some see as just the latest effort by Battistelli to undermine and downplay the independent body. Regardless, the decision to move the BoA to Haar passed by 21 votes to seven, with another seven countries abstaining. Commentators have noted that the nations that voted in favor are the same ones that repeatedly block efforts to admonish or fire Battistelli. Most represent Europe’s smaller economies.

[...]

While Battistelli has the votes to continue to pass reforms that put him into a more powerful position, his self-aggrandizement and the public criticism leveled at him for waging an internal campaign against those that resist his reforms has not gone unnoticed.

In a sign that a number of powerful European states have decided that confinement of the president is the best remaining option, a key lieutenant of Battistelli, Willy Minnoye, announced after the meeting that he would be leaving his post early for “personal reasons.”

As vice president of the EPO’s general operations arm, Minnoye has repeatedly defended the disciplinary proceedings taken against five staff union members and, staff say, is representative of the bullying culture that has taken over the organization. Minnoye most famously said that the EPO would simply ignore a decision against it by the Dutch Supreme Court on whether the EPO was violating its employees’ fundamental rights in how it was conducting internal investigations.

As well as losing Minnoye, Battistelli was dealt a second political blow when Swede was elected as president of the Boards of Appeal.

[...]

Despite these small challenges to Battistelli’s authority however, it is clear despite the very public criticisms of his behavior and repeated staff protests and strikes that the EPO Administrative Council will not be taking any direct action against him.

It’s good and reassuring to see yet another confirmation that Minnoye is leaving, having infamously bragged about being above the law. This Vice-President will be remembered as a “greedy manager and a mad hatter when it comes to justice,” said the following new comment:

The VP1 is leaving the EPO in June 2017 following the New Main topping-out ceremony, no surprise at all as a site manager he knows that his production figures will be down at the moment the staff removals start. His legacy will be that of a greedy manager and a mad hatter when it comes to justice, he should leave the EPO with his head down in shame.

Looking at some comments in The Register, one person wrote: “Surely the best way to “limit the tendencies” of an unmitigated thug like Battistelli would be to sack him.

“Or do such remedial measures only apply to we peasants?”

“He [Battistelli] should be in prison,” another person replied. Well, people have been sent to prison by the millions for much lesser offences, some of which if not the majority of which victimless.

“Italy knows how to deal with Dictators,” said a third person.

“Benoit Battistelli is French hence the Napoleon reference in the article,” said a fourth person, so “we’re talking snails and frogs legs here, not pizza and spaghetti.”

A fifth person asked: “Perhaps Britain could suggest the relocation of the office of the President of the EPO to St. Helena?”

We already heard some suggestions that Britain should demand relocation of the boards to Britain, where staff’s rights might be better guarded and Britain’s participation in the EPO can grow (recruitment of Brits by the EPO is down 80%).

“This seems a bit like Sepp Blatter remaining President of Fifa,” said another person, with a mention of alleged bribes included:

This raises further questions

“the decision to move the BoA to Haar passed by 21 votes to seven, with another seven countries abstaining. Commentators have noted that the nations that voted in favor are the same ones that repeatedly block efforts to admonish or fire Battistelli. Most represent Europe’s smaller economies.”

I feel there is some comment missing in this story -

Is there any reason for smaller economies to protect Battistelli?

This seems a bit like Sepp Blatter remaining President of Fifa for so long because the smaller Fifa nations didn’t want to oust him. In that case it was because Blatter kept the gravy flowing to them.

What I can’t work out is what motivation small European economies have to keep Battistelli, this is just a Patent Office – does he provide smaller nations with something that they are worried will be stopped if he is removed?

That last question would be a rhetorical one for EPO insiders. More than once we saw how Battistelli uses EPO/EU budget as “carrots”.

One person noted that “the majority of the European countries are small countries.” The problem is that they have an equal vote; they don’t have many patents and therefore not much at stake at the EPO. Why isn’t that factor accounted for at the Council?

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