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03.21.17

“Then They Came For Me—And There Was No One Left To Speak For Me.”

Posted in Europe, Patents at 6:34 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The EPO’s campaign of censorship (removal of essential information) must stop

Joseph Goebbels
“My Party is my church, and I believe I serve the Lord best if I do his will, and liberate my oppressed people from the fetters of slavery. That is my gospel.” (he spoke of the Nazi party, not Team Battistelli)

Summary: The decreasing number of people who cover EPO scandals (partly due to fear, or Battistelli's notorious "reign of terror") and a cause for hope, as well as a call for help

THE EPO successfully neutered and muted the cat (or Kat) after it had attempted to do the same thing to me (at the time, people said the Kat would be next in line and last year the Kat too was sanctioned by the Office). Here are just two of the legal threats that the EPO sent to me [1, 2]; they ought to be in the public domain. Invoking something like state secrets to suppress journalism is a very old trick.

“The new quality standards have been specifically designed to allow management to hide any drops in quality.”
      –Kieren McCarthy
Judging by El Reg comments — and we don’t need to quote them as there’s not much new information there (no EPO insiders among them, or very few based on the tone and the content of messages*) — the 'pampered' party line (borderline trolling) is spreading. The only ‘defense’ of the EPO right now is a bunch of accusations against ‘spoiled’ examiners.

The original author of the article, Kieren McCarthy, weighed in to clarify (amid distractions/diversions) as follows:

I don’t understand why you would imagine that the number of patents approved in any way diminishes the fact that the EPO management is mistreating its employees.

That’s what the stories and the strikes and the public rebukes and the critical reports have all been about: the president is trying to force through changes that he believes will make the EPO more efficient and when he’s met with anything but compliance, he reacts very aggressively.

Battistelli created an investigation team that carried out surveillance of union workers that is illegal under the laws in the countries where they are based. He has run disciplinary hearings that have been criticized by all arms of the EPO and by politicians, and other staff unions and even the ILO. His own administrative council ordered him to stop – and he ignored it.

Each time the EPO’s checks and balances have been invoked, Battistelli has responded by changing the rules to award himself greater power. And when he is faced with increasingly angry people around him, he responds by diminishing them and by using the EPO’s resources against them. Or, in the case of his personal bodyguards, using the EPO’s funds to benefit himself.

The EPO management team is well aware that increasingly the number of patents processed is likely to result in lower quality but rather than work hard on making that work, or facing up to the issue and recognizing a likely drop but arguing it will rebound (and providing targets and metrics for recover), it has done what every bad management team in history has done: fixed the results.

The new quality standards have been specifically designed to allow management to hide any drops in quality.

Now if, after all that, you feel you can simply point at the number of patents granted and say: wow, they’re doing a terrific job, then you are either willfully ignorant or painfully short-sighted. Unfortunately you would not be alone: a large number of the administrative council members also appeared to be persuaded that so long as the numbers look good, you can ignore the day-to-day workings of the organization.

Someone later highlighted a point that we had made last year regarding the way EPO counts applications. To quote: “Number of applications is a dodgy statistic which includes some formal applications in China which never proceed due to no fee being paid. You need the lower figure of applications which ever come to the EPO. Granting more doesn’t mean better performance. The Americans used to grant almost all and that was criticised (rightly) for being too easy. There is a balance between rejecting some and granting some based on whether they meet the criteria. The danger is to too easily drop standards to grant more.”

“We are gratified to know that Britain’s largest news site for techies is now regularly covering the EPO conflict and is being cited even by politicians in Parliamentary sessions (e.g. recently in Dutch Parliament).”We don’t want to waste too much space and time quoting provocations against EPO staff (examiners that is). Instead, in the coming days/weeks, IP Kat comments will be quoted, along with anonymous sources of ours who know the system from the inside. ‘Radical’ transparency is well overdue as the more people know, the worst things become for EPO management.

We are gratified to know that Britain’s largest news site for techies is now regularly covering the EPO conflict and is being cited even by politicians in Parliamentary sessions (e.g. recently in Dutch Parliament).

“…writing about the EPO’s management sometimes feel like covering Mexican drug gangs, Russian elites, or the Sicilian Mafia.”The important thing right now is to help defend, support and encourage the few who are left to cover EPO scandals. Team Battistelli is suffering (it's afraid of information/reporting, as opposed to its paid puff pieces that are easily refuted) and it is attempting to silence — sometimes by scare tactics — those who persist and actually understand the system well enough to highlight the abuses and explain these to a wider audience (as the El Reg did, even in that long followup comment).

In Russia, as per today’s news, a lawyer has been thrown out of a building (sounds like a familiar story because it happens to journalists too, but media reports frame it somewhat differently now [1, 2]) and writing about the EPO’s management sometimes feel like covering Mexican drug gangs, Russian elites, or the Sicilian Mafia. We don’t think Merpel is a coward; in fact, people should be thankful to her for covering EPO scandals for as long as she had.
_________
* “Granting patents is easy – it’s rejecting patents that’s hard,” one noteworthy comment has noted.

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