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06.13.17

Battistelli to Leave the European Patent Office Without the Unitary Patent He Repeatedly Promised in Vain Over the Years

Posted in Europe, Patents at 10:17 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Benoît Battistelli has accomplished nothing but rapid destruction of the world’s leading patent office

Battistelli and Putin-Medvedev double act
Will Battistelli try to emulate the Putin-Medvedev double act?

Summary: Report about the expected departure of Benoît Battistelli, based on an Administrative Council document, seems to suggest that it’s really going to happen

THINGS are going to change at the EPO. Jesper Kongstad is leaving in a few months, Minnoye is leaving right about this time, and Battistelli has at most one year left. We have been hearing rumours and speculations about him attempting to prolong his regime (or appointing some crony of his), but we are no longer quite so convinced.

“Candidates must have an above-average capacity to establish and promote a social dialogue,” says the job description for Battistelli’s successor. It says quite a lot, does it not? The autocrat was utterly incapable of anything like this. He probably won’t stick around to even face the music from the courts, having probably violated the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

SUEPO has just updated its site for the first time in quite a while. It published a translation of this report from last week, as we had hoped (even a translation in French). Here is what it says:

European Patent Office: Successor sought for embattled boss Battistelli

06.06.2017

16:47 hours Stefan Krempl

The European Patent Office (EPO) in Munich.

(Picture: dpa, Frank Leonhardt)

The Administrative Council of the European Patent Office has taken the first steps towards replacing Benoît Battistelli as President of the Office when his contract expires at the end of June 2018. During his time in power social unrest has been grievous – and still is.

The days and hours for Benoît Battistelli to occupy the top job at the European Patent Office (EPO) may well be numbered. The Administrative Council of the European Patent Organization, which monitors the activities of the Munich-based authority started preparations on Friday aimed at replacing the bitterly embattled President when his contract expires on 30 June 2018, and finding a new incumbent for the powerful position. There have been repeated arguments in the past, ranging from getting the Frenchman out of office ahead of time to extending his contract at least for a transitional period in the light of the crisis situation in the Office.

According to an Administrative Council document posted on heise online, the search for a successor is supposed to begin officially on 3 July, after the next meeting of the Council at The Hague at the end of June, and reference to the position becoming vacant will be published on the EPO Website. Applications can then be made until 14 September, before Battistelli’s successor can be chosen. The job description will stipulate, among other things, that: “Candidates must have an above-average capacity to establish and promote a social dialogue.” At the moment, the Office is in an uproar. The dispute over the efficiency line adopted by the Frenchman, who has been nicknamed the “Sun King” escalated at the end of 2015, after he suspended the top leadership of the institution’s international staff union (SUEPO), and made loud accusations of “Mafia-like” structures and “institutional violence”. Since then the feud has been getting steadily worse, with the staff repeatedly going on strike. The next phase is planned for the coming meeting of the Administrative Council, following the most recent warning from the central staff council that Battistelli is aiming to make things tougher yet with regard to the already strict options for disciplinary measures. In parallel with this, it seems apparent that the top job at the Danish Patent Office is also up for replacement. This has up to now been held by Jesper Kongstad, who heads up the European Patent Organization, but who also wants to step down from the Administrative Council. The Dane is regarded as a supporter of the Battistelli line, so the watcher can hardly afford to fall out with the EPO boss. (axk)

Has it happened too late? Was too much damage done already? The lax/lenient examination (perhaps with foresight of UPC as arbiter) may lead to a lot of layoffs and the reputation of the EPO is harmed to the point where the number of applications is declining and talented staff is leaving.

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