03.23.17

Nepotism at the European Patent Office and Suspicious Absence of Tenders for Big Projects

Posted in Europe, Patents at 1:09 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

We know who’s laughing all the way to the bank, but we don’t know why

Man laughing

Summary: Carte blanche is a French term which now perfectly describes the symptoms encountered in the European Patent Office, more so once led by a lot of French people (Battistelli and his friends)

Battistelli has turned the EPO into a laughing stock and he too seems to realise it (albeit still trying to shift the blame for it). Comments in The Register, for instance, already joke about the EPO’s apparent transparency, saying that it’s about transparency in the windows and in the panorama sense (alluding to Battistelli's secretive palace at the top floor).

“Battistelli still seems ever so eager to yank out lots of crappy patents, demonstrating his utter lack of real understanding of the process involved.”Why was Team Battistelli trying so hard to hide what had happened there at the top floor? Why was it so concerned about photographs showing up in a Web site (concerned enough to demand that they should be taken down immediately)? See, Battistelli does not really like transparency. Battistelli just likes publishing/composing (perhaps merely signing) so-called ‘blogs’ about “transparency”. It’s like those speeches where George Bush speaks about freedom and democracy. Nobody should take these words seriously.

Battistelli, along with the docile EPO management, continues to lie to the staff (example from last night), just like he lies to journalists. It’s utterly disturbing that he keeps getting away with it. Lying is a much lesser offense than those other things Battistelli can be accused of (his immunity from prosecution notwithstanding). Battistelli still seems ever so eager to yank out lots of crappy patents, demonstrating his utter lack of real understanding of the process involved. In France they don't do any of this and he seems to believe that computers can replace humans for such a monumental, complex task.

“If Battistelli has any dignity (an unrealistic expectation, no doubt!), he would have resigned and then publicly apologised.”Due to this reckless policy of Battistelli, the EPO will probably have many layoffs and decades of great pain ahead, having to ‘clean up’ (i.e. flush down erroneously-granted EPs). Expect a growing need for oppositions/appeals; it takes a lot of work and even more resources than ordinary examination. It’s very expensive to do all this and there are ramifications like refunds after licensing deals, which may or may not have already destroyed products if not companies (injunctions, bankruptcies and so on).

If Battistelli has any dignity (an unrealistic expectation, no doubt!), he would have resigned and then publicly apologised. He should give his new penthouse to the Boards of Appeal (BoA), then quietly walk away to exile in some fine Haar hospital. That in its own right would not fix the Office, but it would at least be a start. Here is a sarcastic new comment which we caught yesterday:

Don’t forget that the President and his friends earn considerably more for a work which, at best, can be described as mediocre.

“But is this really what the economy needs, as the EPO claims?”

Now we know what the economy needs.
New public-private partnership construction projects to kick-start the recovery …

King Battistelli’s swish penthouse office the Euro Patent Office doesn’t want you to see

Some readers of ours seem to believe that Team Battistelli foresees its end and hence tries to claw money from the future. In any other, i.e. accountable, patent office this would be a scandal so big that the media would be all over it. But not in Europe; certainly not in Germany, which seems to be gaining by turning a blind eye to it.

“Sometimes it’s depressing to see what people like Battistelli can get away with.”For all we know, the contractors chosen to design and build Battistelli’s palace could be nothing more than old friends of Lutz or whoever else guards Team Battistelli while milking the Office. There’s no way of telling when procurement is so obscure, especially in recent years. Judging by the lack of updates in the report from the The Register*, the Office never got back with any details about the costs associated with construction, design etc. And yet, the EPO keeps bragging about tenders recently, especially in Twitter (almost half a dozen times in the past month alone). Maybe they just try to proactively distract from something.

“You’ll understand the key aspects of patent litigation better after this free online class,” the EPO wrote the other day.

“With UPC,” I responded, “the EPO wants lots of litigation using bogus patents (EPs are BS now, due to Battistelli)…”

Sometimes it’s depressing to see what people like Battistelli can get away with. All of us — myself included — will suffer from this in the long run. Battistelli will have stashed millions of Euros and probably retire peacefully in Corsica, where the name Battistelli may be already associated with a Mafia.
_____
* The article says: “We have asked the EPO if it will break out the cost of Battistelli’s office, and we will update this story if it responds.” But a day and a half later there is no update.

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7 Comments

  1. john said,

    March 24, 2017 at 9:26 am

    Gravatar

    I don’t know how much the renovation of the 10th floor was, but I know that no structural work was really needed. I know how the building is built and it was always designed to allow this kind of open floor plan. The walls separating the offices bear no structural load and can be removed easily. The building was famous amongst architects when it was built originally.

  2. Anton_P said,

    March 24, 2017 at 10:33 am

    Gravatar

    Hi, the IPKat ran a short article about EP patents being “printed” by Jouve. Didn’t you run a story about this firm a few months ago? From recollection, you pointed out that the firm which got the contract was essentially a shell company.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    I think you might be mistaking it for, e.g., Europatis. I never wrote about Jouve.

    Honest question: do you think the Jouve story merits coverage here? Didn’t look like a huge deal.

    john Reply:

    Jouve is a big fish as far as the EPO is concerned. They built the main part of the EPO database system and related systems and that is a contract that was not cheap. They are also still deeply involved and you should thank ipkat for pointing that out. Europatis is comparatively small (and indeed linked to Jacques Michel).

    The story started in 1990 and is described in that book, page 38:
    https://books.google.de/books?id=wovsCgAAQBAJ

    Other key players were active at the time, particularly Bertelsmann. How the whole European patent database activity managed to end up concentrated in the hand of a single private player would be a very interesting story, even more so when you realize that this single player is French.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    If it started in the 1990s (or prior to that), then it’s hard to demonstrate French nepotism.

    Presidents of the European Patent Office:

    1. Johannes Bob van Benthem (1 November 1977 – 30 April 1985), Dutch.
    2. Paul Braendli (1 May 1985 – 31 December 1995), Swiss.
    3. Ingo Kober (1 January 1996 – 30 June 2004), German.
    4. Alain Pompidou (1 July 2004 – 30 June 2007), French.
    5. Alison Brimelow (1 July 2007 – 30 June 2010), British.
    6. Benoît Battistelli (from 1 July 2010), French.

  3. john said,

    March 25, 2017 at 4:46 pm

    Gravatar

    About tenders and control: there is absolutely no, nada, zilch control on how Battistelli spends the EPO money. People don’t realize that and don’t even believe it when faced with the facts, but it is true:
    1: for “moderate” sums, there is a placement procedure, meaning the EPO management chooses absolutely freely. Except that the sum is not that “moderate” and that management are allowed to split a large project into smaller chunks
    2: for larger sums (think about a project like, the MOST EXPENSIVE building in the Netherlands, presently under construction), there is internal audit. Except that the head of that department is a personal friend that Battistelli hired from the INPI. That person has functional immunity and is only responsible to the EPO president.
    3: France’s minister of industry, who is responsible for Patents, aware of what is going on and of a different political side as Battistelli, instructed France’s representative to vote against the budget in 2015. Before the session, Battistelli talked to that person in private and the person did not vote. He said his voting key did not work. It is a unique event in the history of the budget committee and demonstrated that national delegations can do nothing when Battistelli can talk in private to the representative.

    I think that with all your efforts and your stream of articles you are still severely underestimating the magnitude of the EPO’s problem.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    The tendering problems were covered quite recently. If you have additional information (like the above), please do share. It helps with future articles. Evidence of some kind would help too, in the face of expected denials or the EPO taking actions in an effort to rewrite history (happened several times before, always as a reaction to something we had leaked).

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