Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs Bert Koenders: Rapid Improvements in European Patent Office or Else ‘High Level’ Action
Summary: The growing political pressure to subject the EPO to the Rule of Law, as the Administrative Council became so complicit that it is demonstrably incapable of functioning rationally, e.g. so as to repair the broken institution
THE EPO‘s management is trying to come across as confident with its bogus 'results' (and bogus conclusions inferred from these, as we shall explain again later this week), but it’s actually rather sweaty under the necktie. Pyrrhic victories such as these (enormous damage to all EPs ever granted and untold damage to the EPO’s reputation) have already led to a decrease in applications, a recruitment crisis, and perhaps even an existential threat to the EPO (as a patent examination office). EPO management is on the run, it is not at all victorious. It’s just trying to have one last “hurrah!” using many years’ worth of backlog, which merely deepens the crisis (examiners are smart enough to know what this entails). Everyone at the EPO knows about it, probably even the clueless management. Maybe the new recruits, having signed short-term contracts, are still not “in the know”…
“Pyrrhic victories such as these (enormous damage to all EPs ever granted and untold damage to the EPO’s reputation) have already led to a decrease in applications, a recruitment crisis, and perhaps even an existential threat to the EPO…”AS SUEPO has already noticed, Dutch media caught up with the latest major development (ignore all the UPC fake news, which we shall tackle later this week and in the weekend).
The “Dutch media report about EPO intervention by Foreign Minister,” a reader told us, is finally out. There may be more like it (to come or already published but overlooked) and it follows some coverage here in Britain. We were the first to write about it if not ‘scoop’ it.
“They finally published a report about it on 7 March,” the reader noted, “four days after Techrights broke the news. Well done Techrights!”
We’ve noticed that as well. The Register covered this too and explicitly gave credit to us.
We have meanwhile ‘taken advantage’ of fluent Dutch speakers whose English is also strong and produced the following translation, which helps shed further light and contains some new quotes, especially in the last paragraph about FNV.
Tuesday, 7th March 2017
Koenders: rapid improvements in Patent Office or else ‘high level’ action
THE HAGUE – The European Patent Office (EPO) in Rijswijk must show “visible improvements in labour relations” in the short term. Unless that happens the Minister for Foreign Affairs Bert Koenders intends to discuss the situation “at a high political level” with the other member countries of the European Patent Organisation.
“I will monitor the matter closely having regard to the responsibilities of the host country,” wrote Koenders in a letter to the Parliament. Moreover, he intends to keep after the management to “push for normalization of the situation within the EPO”.
At the insistence of the House of Representatives, the Minister recently spoke to the Vice-President of the EPO, Willy Minnoye, about the ongoing discontent among staff. He also mentions in his letter to the House that the Supreme Court has upheld the immunity of the EPO. That means the Organisation is not subject to Dutch law. According to Mr Koenders, this does not preclude the Netherlands as a host country from entering into a discussion of the situation “especially now that the conflict has become part of public and political debate”.
The internal conflict has persisted for too long
During the discussion the Minister is said to have informed Minnoye that “the internal conflict has persisted for too long and the situation now requires rapid improvement.” As far as he was concerned “the social dialogue needs to be resumed in a constructive manner” and a number of measures designed to inspire confidence must be implemented within a very short time.
The Vice-President of the EPO is reported to have said that “efforts were being made in various ways to initiate a positive dialogue with the staff.” He also claimed that the Organisation would soon move into calmer waters.
A reign of terror
For a long time now there has been conflict inside the EPO. Recently the staff have held protest rallies and work stoppages on several occasions. Under the leadership of the director Benoît Battistelli the management is said to conduct a reign of terror.
“Battistelli rules with an iron fist and tolerates no participation or opposition on the part of staff. He dismisses people at will, demotes them, unilaterally forces through changes to working conditions thereby demotivating the whole organisation,” according to the trade union FNV in a previous statement about the situation.
“We’re dealing with quite a beast here and if tamed or brought down (or pacified, so to speak) the EPO can once again return/revert back to a more-or-less tolerable workplace — one that would serve Europe’s interests rather than a cabal of sociopaths.”For those who may be wondering what’s to come next, we have a lot to write about the UPC (rebuttals to lobbyists), much to write about the demise of patent quality, and our two long series (“The Sickness of the EPO” and the much older ongoing series) are far, far from over. We’re trying to tackle and get out of the way the most important/relevant topics first, based on what time permits (I have been at work many days this week) and based on the timing or strategy of EPO taking points. To say that they lie every day is an understatement; in Twitter, for instance, they lie once every few hours. I have never in my entire life come across anything quite so embarrassing or an institution so eager to receive positive publicity that it pays publications for it and hires fracking lobbyists as a PR company (at the expense of over a million Euros per year!). We’re dealing with quite a beast here and if tamed or brought down (or pacified, so to speak) the EPO can once again return/revert back to a more-or-less tolerable workplace — one that would serve Europe’s interests rather than a cabal of sociopaths. █