“When asked by Ars, the EPO’s spokesperson mentioned the imminent arrival of the unitary patent system as an important reason for revising the EPO’s internal rules…”
–Dr. Glyn Moody
Summary: The chaotic transition at the EPO — a transition from something which has been workable to something intolerable — and the role of the Unitary Patent (UPC), which lurks in the shadows and threatens to harm the whole of Europe
Laurent Prunier is the latest victim of the brutal regime at the EPO, where many suicides have been reported (and some not publicly reported). A unions group which is familiar with and outspoken about union-busting activities at the EPO showed “L. Prunier (SUEPO) talking about the scandal at the EPO with S. Saint-Marc (Council of Europe) at the USF meeting during break in Brussels.” (the link is seemingly broken and is connected to a surveillance Web site (Facebook), so the photo at hand got uploaded).
“Laurent Prunier is the latest victim of the brutal regime at the EPO, where many suicides have been reported (and some not publicly reported).”Staff representatives at the EPO, notably but not exclusively SUEPO, have raised legitimate concerns for a long time, but it wasn’t until Battistelli and his crooked regime gained a foothold that they (and staff ‘downstream’, i.e. people they represent and protect) had their rights trampled on. Patent Administration members of staff are suffering the most (intense pressure), some people who are familiar with internal EPO affairs argue, and it’s also where workers occasionally resort to suicide. 6 years ago concerns were raised by staff representatives
[PDF], noting that PAs “have a day-job. Change is not the night-job” (that was the title). This long document said that “[t]here are intensive discussions going on about PA-staff’s future – so far without PA staff.”
It also said that “complete reliance on electronic tools for treating applications may offer savings, but it also entails risks. The users must see their concerns addressed to avoid frustration if system failure and bugs put even more pressure onto the daily work in future.”
“Patent Administration members of staff are suffering the most (intense pressure), some people who are familiar with internal EPO affairs argue, and it’s also where workers occasionally resort to suicide.”The EPO is already trying to replace examiners with computers, which leads to all sorts of integrity and quality issues.
A lot of the above is often being justified — however poorly — by saying that there is an ongoing “reform” and all the complaints are just a symptom of resistance/antagonism to change. Based on the quote at the top, the UPC has a lot to do with it. We have therefore been writing a great deal about the UPC recently.
The following new comment explains why the UPC cannot quite happen (or become a reality) unless there’s cheating:
Revisiting the Gordon and Pascoe opinion, I am struck by the following passage.
“If the UPC were truly part of the Union legal order, it would already be subject to these obligations without them needing to be spelled out in the Agreement. Whilst Article 1 of the UPCA and Article 71a of the Brussels Regulation designate the UPC as a “court common to a number of Member States”, we do not consider that such secondary legislation is capable of converting the UPC’s fundamental status as an international court into that of a court which is part of the national legal order”
Upon reflection, I struggle to understand the argument that is being put forward here. In what way is Article 1 of the UPCA “secondary” legislation? The UPCA is, after all, the very instrument that establishes the UPC. Are Gordon and Pascoe therefore suggesting that we should view Article 1 of the UPCA as mere “window dressing”, for the sake of appearances (ie the appearance of complying with Opinion 1/09)?
This was followed by another comment:
I forgot to add that Article 21 UPCA is also relevant.
“As a court common to the Contracting Member States and as part of their judicial system, the Court shall cooperate with the Court of Justice of the European Union to ensure the correct application and uniform interpretation of Union law, as any national court, in accordance with Article 267 TFEU in particular. Decisions of the Court of Justice of the European Union shall be binding on the Court”.
This seems to at least try to place the UPCA firmly within the Union legal order. It is a shame, therefore, that Gordon and Pascoe did not explain why, in their view, Article 21 UPCA also represents mere “window dressing”.
We invite people across Europe, EPO staff included, to help us combat the misguided and possibly illegal (or unconstitutional) ‘reform’ which is UPC. This is a war of occupation by special interests against everyone in Europe including patent examiners. Nobody wants the UPC except prosecutors, patent bullies, and patent trolls (not even European). █
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Summary: The US patent system is becoming ever more hostile towards patent trolls, owing in part to reforms introduced under Michelle Lee’s tenure, but people are still not certain that she will maintain her job and continue to fix the system
THE phones that are being made in east Asia are attracting many patent parasites and patent trolls, as we last noted yesterday. The same goes for tablets, wristbands, watches etc. albeit their overall worth (or market size) is relatively small. Qualcomm has been one among the top parasites in this area (harming both Android OEMs and Apple) and its behaviour is belatedly getting the attention of the FTC, not too long after it published a study about PAEs (a sort/type of patent trolls). The corporate media including Reuters is still writing about it:
Apple files $1 billion lawsuit against chip supplier Qualcomm
Apple Inc filed a $1 billion lawsuit against supplier Qualcomm Inc on Friday, days after the U.S. government filed a lawsuit that accused the chip maker of resorting to anticompetitive tactics to maintain a monopoly over a key semiconductor in mobile phones.
Qualcomm is a major supplier to both Apple and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd for “modem” chips that help phones connect to wireless networks. The two companies together accounted for 40 percent of Qualcomm’s $23.5 billion in revenue in its most recent fiscal year.
IAM’s slant on the news wants us to think that Trump is going to change it all, even though there are no indications of any imminent changes at the USPTO. The article starts as follows:
After an investigation lasting more than two years, the Federal Trade Commission filed a complaint against Qualcomm on Tuesday over what it alleges are the chipmaker’s anti-competitive practices in the supply of its baseband processors and the licensing of its patent portfolio. The lawsuit, which was filed in the Northern District of California, is the latest example of Qualcomm’s licensing practices being placed under the microscope by regulators around the world.
The FTC’s case is framed around three main points: first, that Qualcomm adopted a “no licence, no chips” policy, whereby it refused to sell its chips to those companies that declined to take a licence to its patent portfolio; second, that the tech giant refused to license its competitors; and, finally, that Qualcomm put in place a deal with Apple in which the iPhone maker was precluded from sourcing baseband processors from competitors from 2011 to 2016.
IAM then veers off into seemingly irrelevant spin involving Trump. According to this short update, confusion over the vocation of the USPTO remains. To quote Patently-O:
Folks are having fun today with Federal Government web page conversions.
We still do not have confirmation that Michelle Lee will stay-on as Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and USPTO Director. The newly updated COMMERCE.GOV website shows the position vacant while other positions remain filled.
It should all be figured out by Monday.
Lee’s roots in east Asia and Trump’s rhetoric against China (unlike Taiwan, which he uses as a sort of provocative weapon where he also has business investment) is something which we mentioned before in relation to this. As mentioned by many people before, Trump’s appointments are predominantly white, male, straight, and old (sometimes also corrupt). Someone like Rader seems like he fits the bill.
It will be interesting to see what happens this coming week and we shall watch it closely.
There are meanwhile some developments in the patent world that are worth noting. In Taiwan, for example, according to this new article, invalidity of a patent can have a ripple effect. “In patent infringement civil lawsuits,” it says, “the accused party cannot only claim invalidity of the patent with the civil court, but can also initiate a cancellation action with the Taiwan Intellectual Property Office (TIPO) for the invalidation of the patent. Such a two-track mechanism may lead to a difference of opinion between the civil court and TIPO.”
A lot of US patents are being invalidated these days,
“Visually negligible” is another type of subject which is being explored. We covered it earlier this month.
Right now we are eager to see an unambiguous confirmation of Lee’s (re)appointment. █
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Not what Dutch people would wish to be associated with or known for…
Reference: Milošević and the ICC
Summary: Rather than crack down on human rights abuses, the Dutch government now sends out the signal that it’s an island for those wish to violate human rights whilst enjoying immunity (EPO)
UPLOADED by SUEPO early in the day yesterday was this presentation of Prof. Zegveld
[PDF], who represents SUEPO and others who are witch-hunted at the EPO. They uploaded this having probably seen press coverage, some of it in English, some of translated into English (from Dutch), and most if it just in Dutch [1, 2, 3] (it’s everywhere in the press and even television in the Netherlands).
Dutch News, a high-profile English-speaking site in the Netherlands, wrote:
The Dutch Supreme Court has ruled that the Dutch courts cannot intervene in problems at the European Patent Office in Rijswijk because the organisation enjoys immunity as an international organisation.
The patent office approves patents for all 38 countries which are members and has a workforce of 7,000 spread between the Netherlands, Germany, Austria and Belgium.
Glyn Moody quoted from this that “the only option now open is to sue the Dutch state.” The EPO is now being protected by the state. What an embarrassment both to Holland and the EPO.
The EPO is proud to be above the law (and actually BREAK Dutch laws), based on its new statement about it (warning:
epo.org link). These villains don’t actually speak about what they did, they just say: “The Supreme Court of the Netherlands has today issued a ruling in a legal case related to a dispute generated by one trade union present at the EPO, SUEPO, against the Office. We welcome this decision by which the Court considers the Dutch courts as not competent to deal with this case, in application of the principle of immunity which is essential for the independence and functioning of any international organisation.”
There are serious, truly serious ramifications for ICC and other institutions on Dutch territories. The ICC, which can now itself commit crimes, won’t even be punished or reprimanded by the government. What kind of signal of low credibility does that send out? It’s like countries that bolster their economy by helping large multinational corporations flagrantly evade tax (Ireland or Luxembourg), or nations that let rich people hide their money from tax authorities (e.g. Switzerland for taxation). Do the Dutch want to be viewed as a safe haven for human rights violators? We previously heard a lot from sources inside the UN (specifically in Switzerland), from those who were close to suicide due to institutional abuse (in WIPO, which is connected to the UN, there have already been suicides due to that). The documents were in French, which is why we never covered/leaked that.
Accompanying the newly-released PDF, SUEPO posted the following message:
Presentation of Prof. Zegveld at the Council of Europe on 13 December 2016 on Jurisdictional Immunity Of International Organisations And Rights Of Their Staff
The use and abuse of immunity by international organisations is apparently a topic not limited to the EPO – although we may have the dubious honour of holding the worst record so far.
On 13 December 2016, the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe tackled the issue in agenda point 9.
SUEPO’s attorney, Prof. Zegveld, was one of the people invited to make a presentation.
We hope that the debate will trigger a (re-)confirmation of the boundaries of immunity, and lead to a strengthening of the enforcement of staff rights.
What is at stake here right now isn’t just the EPO but over 50 international bodies which are based in the Netherlands. The Netherlands wants to be viewed as a guardian of international law (e.g. with ICC), but right now it facilitates human rights abuses. This will certainly be debated by Dutch politicians in the coming days or weeks. Certain political parties in the county rightly deem it a disgrace. █
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