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03.03.17

Dutch Foreign Minister Reads the Riot Act to EPO Vice-President Willy/Guillaume Minnoye

Posted in Europe, Patents at 7:25 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Letter from the Dutch Foreign Minister

Dutch Foreign Minister letter's screenshot

Summary: The Dutch Foreign Minister is not tolerating the abuses of the EPO and seems eager to remove the immunity unless things miraculously improve (which is very unlikely)

MR. Minnoye loves secrecy (he has repeatedly failed at that) and he will flee the EPO in a few months as first rumoured about half a year ago (last summer, before a confirmation that came just before Christmas). Minnoye also became rather infamous for asserting that he would ignore/disregard (or put another way: disobey) the highest court’s ruling. He was referring to the Dutch High Court and said this on Dutch television! How foolish. How arrogant. As we noted earlier today, there is a growing possibility right now that the EPO will soon lose its immunity. Minnoye will probably have retired by then.

Before Minnoye is out the door, however, there is a score to settle and the above letter reached us today. People who comprehend Dutch explained it to us as follows:

The document recently appeared on the website of the Dutch Parliament.

The letter is dated February 23 and is from the Dutch Minister for Foreign Affairs, Bert Koenders, to the Chairman of the Dutch House of Representatives (Tweede Kamer).

In the letter Mr. Koenders is reporting to the Parliament on his discussion with the EPO Vice-President Minnoye which took place on January 30, 2017.

According to Mr. Koenders, part of the discussion related to the verdict of the Supreme Court of January 20, 2017, in which the EPO’s immunity was confirmed.

Mr. Koenders goes on to note that:
“This immunity does not prevent the host country from entering into discussion with the management of the EPO about the continuing conflict between management and staff of the EPO. Especially now that this conflict has become part of the public and political debate.”

The letter continues:
“In this context, I have communicated to Mr Minnoye that the internal conflict has been going on for too long and that the situation now demands rapid improvement.”

Apparently Minnoye came out with the usual official EPO management line about how progress was been made. He referred to the recent social conference – which was described by the French Senator Richard Yung as “Potemkinite” – and he expressed the hope that the EPO was moving into calmer waters.

The letter from Mr. Koenders concludes with the following statement:
“I indicated that I share this hope, but have noted an important caveat: if no visible improvements take place in the short term in the relations within the EPO, I see no other option but to discuss the situation at a high political level with the Member States of the European Patent Organisation.
I continue to monitor this matter closely having regard to responsibility of the host state and will press Vice President Minnoye for normalization of the situation within the EPO.”

Bearing in mind that this letter is from the Foreign Minister of the Netherlands and is couched in diplomatic language it can safely be said that it is “strong stuff”.

In plain language: it looks like the Foreign Minister has just “read the riot act” to Minnoye and the EPO’s senior management.

We also have this letter as text, for those who can read the Dutch:

Aan de Voorzitter van de
Tweede Kamer der Staten-Generaal
Binnenhof 4
Den Haag

Datum 23 februari 2017
Betreft Gesprek Vice President Europees Octrooi Bureau

Geachte voorzitter,

Hierbij informeer ik uw Kamer, conform mijn toezegging in het algemeen overleg van de vaste commissie voor Buitenlandse Zaken over diplomatieke immuniteit van 14 december 2016, over mijn gesprek met de heer Minnoye, Vice President van het Europees Octrooi Bureau (EOB), dat op 30 januari 2017 plaatsvond.

Onderdeel van dit gesprek was de uitspraak van de Hoge Raad van 20 januari 2017, waarin de immuniteit van de organisatie werd bevestigd. Nederland respecteert de immuniteit van het EOB, net als die van de andere intergouvernementele organisaties die zich hier hebben gevestigd. Deze immuniteit laat onverlet dat het gastland met het management van het EOB in gesprek kan gaan over de voortdurende onrust tussen het management en het personeel van het EOB. Zeker nu deze onrust onderdeel is geworden van publiek en politiek debat.

In dit kader heb ik de heer Minnoye meegegeven dat de interne onrust te lang voortduurt en dat de situatie nu snel verbetering behoeft. Om met spoed een begin te maken aan herstel van vertrouwen tussen het management en het personeel, is voorgesteld de sociale dialoog constructief te hervatten en daarbij op zeer korte termijn een aantal vertrouwenwekkende maatregelen, onder andere gebaseerd op de Social Study, door te voeren:

- Externen betrekken in de interne bezwaarprocedure, zodat deze procedure door het personeel als onpartijdig en onafhankelijk wordt ervaren;

- Heroverweging van disciplinaire maatregelen die ten aanzien van enkele vakbondsleden zijn ingezet.

Tot slot heb ik vanuit mijn gastlandverantwoordelijkheid aangegeven dat het EOB een beroep op het gastland kan doen als het gaat om steun voor initiatieven die bijdragen aan normalisering van de huidige situatie van onrust.


De heer Minnoye heeft aangegeven dat op dit moment op verschillende manieren wordt geprobeerd een positieve dialoog met het personeel op te starten. Als voorbeeld noemde hij de townhall meetings die recentelijk plaatsvonden. Vice President Minnoye sprak de hoop en verwachting uit dat de organisatie binnenkort in rustiger vaarwater komt.

Ik heb aangegeven dat ik deze hoop deel, maar heb daarbij een belangrijke kanttekening geplaatst: indien op korte termijn geen zichtbare verbeteringen plaatsvinden in de arbeidsverhoudingen binnen het EOB, zie ik geen andere mogelijkheid dan het bespreken van de situatie op hoog politiek niveau met de andere lidstaten van de Europese Octrooi Organisatie.

Ik blijf dit dossier vanuit de gastlandverantwoordelijkheid nauwlettend volgen en bij Vice President Minnoye aandringen op normalisering van de situatie binnen het EOB.

De Minister van Buitenlandse Zaken,

Bert Koenders

This is likely to be the basis for future and perhaps imminent political debates in the Netherlands. We previously wrote about the subject in articles published earlier this year; among them (there are more):

  1. Battistelli is an Autocrat Above the Law and It’s OK, Holland’s High Council Says
  2. EPO Abuses Now Make the Netherlands Look Like a Facilitator of Human/Labour Rights Abuses
  3. Media Blasts EPO Over Immunity Amid Suicides, Battistelli’s Behaviour Compared to Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s
  4. Leaked: Team Battistelli, Exploiting a Controversial Decision From the Netherlands, is Trying to Squash SUEPO
  5. The EPO’s Freedom to Disregard the Law and Abuse Employees is “Being Taken up by the Council of Europe”
  6. The Netherlands With Its Bizarre Decision to Let the EPO Violate Dutch Law, Now in English
  7. “Team Battistelli Continues With Intimidation Tactics”
  8. The European Patent Office Officially Dishonours Justice, So It’s Time for SUEPO to Become Clandestine
  9. Culture of Terror at The European Patent Office Escalates Thanks to Dutch Government’s Complicity
  10. Lack of Justice in and Around the EPO Drawing Scrutiny

When will this madness end? We have a lot more material to publish about the EPO, probably this weekend and next week. Things are about to get worse — definitely not better — for the EPO. Bert Koenders deserves to know that and we hope he will pay attention to some abuses we’ll show happening on Dutch territory.

If Dutch politicians wish to maintain the perception of their country being a leader in international law, then they must act now on the EPO.

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