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05.11.17

The EPO is in Disarray and Additional Complaints to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) May Be Imminent

Posted in Europe, Patents at 8:51 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Jesper Kongstad, Battistelli's protector, is alleged to have been ousted by the Danish government; is Battistelli next?

European Court of Human Rights logo

Summary: Team Battistelli reaps what it has sown, as complaints are being made to a court with “47 member states [that] are contracting parties to the Convention,” (European Convention on Human Rights) according to Wikipedia

TECHRIGHTS is encouraged to see the USPTO (or at least courts which govern patents in the US) cracking down on software patents (we shall cover that separately). At the EPO, by rather sheer contrast, software patents are being ‘smuggled’ into Europe, in direct and clear defiance of the rules (certainly against the standards of national patent offices and against the spirit of patent law). This has long been our principal if not sole criticism of the EPO, predating by many years the union-busting débâcle of Battistelli. Our track record, as in our past coverage, makes this abundantly clear.

“Earlier this year we asserted that the EPO had become a laughing stock for being (perhaps) the first major office to grant patents on CRISPR, leading to a ‘domino effect’ that can negatively affect other patent offices.”Last year the number of patent grants soared; EPs were granted quickly and leniently, irrespective of merit, due to unreasonable pressure from management. Those who don't play along get fired (asked to resign). Earlier this year we asserted that the EPO had become a laughing stock for being (perhaps) the first major office to grant patents on CRISPR, leading to a ‘domino effect’ that can negatively affect other patent offices.

The EPO granting patents on life (seeds, plants, pigs etc.) in defiance of its own rules is not a new thing. But it now looks like a bottomless pit/slippery slope, where patent quality matters not at all and patent scope is discarded/disregarded/dismissed as a barrier to “production” (a term Battistelli loves to use). See this new press release that says “Caribou Biosciences, Inc., a leading genome engineering company, announced today that the European Patent Office (EPO) has granted a broad CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing patent to The Regents of the University of California, the University of Vienna, and Dr. Emmanuelle Charpentier. Caribou holds the exclusive license to the foundational CRISPR-Cas9 patent estate from the University of California and the University of Vienna.”

“Thankfully, staff is now taking the EPO to one of the highest courts in the entire world.”The floodgates have opened and before there is a chance for opposition or referral to the appeal boards the Office continues to grant patents on genome! This is a travesty! Ask any examiner in that area; they too should know the ramifications. But in order to keep their job they probably have to play along.

Thankfully, staff is now taking the EPO to one of the highest courts in the entire world. It has rather broad jurisdiction. Various people are noticing articles about this (e.g. in IP Kat comments; funny how IP Kat refuses to cover this major development!). It’s not just in Dutch anymore but also in German and in English (WIPR and Christian Kirsch in German media that EPO management previously censored by threatening those who linked to reports from it). Battistelli has made a disgrace of the EPO and people notice the outcome:

The Staff Union of the European Patent Office (SUEPO) has filed a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) over its dispute with the European Patent Office (EPO).

In January this year, the Dutch Supreme Court ruled that courts in the Netherlands have no jurisdiction to rule on the wrangle, in a win for the EPO.

The trade union alleged that the EPO limited the right to strike, blocked emails from SUEPO and refused to recognise the union, violating the European Convention on Human Rights.

Another British publication that wrote about this is The Register. Funny that the British media covers EPO scandals more often than the German media, in spite of the EPO being based in Germany. The German media has generally been extremely uncooperative and disinterested; I never managed to convince anyone in it to cover EPO scandals. I tried. Many times.

The latest report from The Register has few factual errors but otherwise it’s pretty accurate. There are some comments that are short and/or factually not correct (or purely sarcastic) because most readers of The Register are outsiders to all this. “I can’t imagine it’s being very productive in the past couple of years,” one person wrote, “for an EU body…”

No, the EPO is not an EU body. There are a few other comments there which we would rather skip, but here is a handful of quoteworthy ones:

vote in a suitable replacement

could interfere with plans to vote in a suitable replacement for Battistelli when his term runs out in 2018:

By which time Battistelli will have re written the rules so that only people whose surname starts with a B and have been approved by the current President can stand.

That’s what more and more people now suspect and worry about.

Here is a more ‘radical’ approach:

Time to bin the EPO and create a replacement

I think it’s clear that the EPO is horribly injured and should be humanely euthanised.

Like people on a poorly led open source project, if the staff in the EPO were given the option to move to a new organisation I imagine they would take it.

I can see the talk in capitals around Europe being along the lines of “well, whatever we do let’s not setup another supranational organisation like the EPO”.

Knowing ICANN’s scandals, one person wrote this:

Battistelli’s fallback position

If he gets ousted at EPO eventually, I’m sure he’d be welcome to join ICANN’s board.

Then there’s this:

Above the law

No organisation, and certainly no individual, should ever have that much power. It’s utterly obscene, especially given that the organisation in question is just a glorified business operation, not some life-or-death public utility.

Not only does the totalitarianism of the EPO urgently require intervention, but the whole concept of “immunity” from any sort of accountability, due to some bogus and outmoded diplomatic protocol, needs to be not just reviewed but summarily abolished.

Benjamin Henrion said, “you cannot sue the EPO for maladministration, can you?”

One cannot sue the EPO for anything, unless it lifts its own immunity. We covered this a couple of years ago when the EPO threated to sue yours truly, a blogger. WIPO does something similar right now.

“We hear that yet more complaints to ECHR might soon be made, not just by SUEPO but also individuals who are EPO staff.”Henrion responded to this tweet from Dr. Luke McDonagh, who had retweeted Abel & Imray, adding: “European Patent Office being brought before the European Court of Human Rights (p.s. law students, remember neither is an EU institution!)”

As we noted recently, ILO part of the issue at hand. ILO too is immune and it’s failing to fulfill its mission which is assuring justice in other international institutions.

We certainly hope that the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) will recognise that it has a big mess in its hands. It ought to decide to seriously take on the matter, albeit it can take up to 3 years for a final determination to be made (by which point SUEPO might be altogether squashed and EPO layoffs eliminate the remainder of the representatives). We hear that yet more complaints to ECHR might soon be made, not just by SUEPO but also individuals who are EPO staff/former staff.

As a new comment put it minutes ago: “Nice news, but comes too late. Apparently suepo is dead: there will not be enough candidates for the staff committee (deadline is the 15th and candidates are lacking). Without elected representatives in the staff committee, suepo will not be present in meetings with the president, since they are not recognized as a union. Expect the rate of reforms to accelerate. Expect the pension reform to be implemented this summer without input from the staff.”

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