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06.17.17

European Patent Office (EPO) Whistleblowing Guidelines

Posted in Europe, Patents at 2:59 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Because the consequences can be dire if it’s not done right

Reality Winner

Summary: The first part of a series which offers tips for sending us material/evidence, specifically from the European Patent Office (EPO)

THE EPO has become both secretive and abusive. Toxic mix. “Dangerous cocktail,” one might call it. Even the salary of the boss is no longer known (predecessors’ used to be publicly disclosed). The combination of secrecy and immunity is outright unacceptable and the only way to assure accountability (e.g. public scrutiny) is to leak documents pertaining to the operations of the Office and the Council/Board. We welcome submissions of information about the EPO and as always we are deeply committed to protecting our sources. We have a perfect record after 11 years (of never compromising a source). Security and privacy is something we are intimately familiar with (professionally too).

In the words of an insider, “some people at the EPO decided that they can no longer look away and tacitly/passively accept that some EPO managers, above all managers at the very top of the organization and their cronies, can enjoy the doubtful benefits of an intransparent system which fosters bribing and corruption and is self-stabilizing, if not self-intensifying – mainly due to a total lack of accountability of the persons in charge. I am one of these people.”

Here is the first part of a series, in which tips shall be given to insiders for (1) the safe acquisition of material and (2) secure passage of this material (with additional/contextual information) to us, preferably without leaving a personally-identifying trail at any level.

We can make up or compensate for imperfect transmission (e.g. metadata, lack of obfuscation), but if it’s done the wrong way by the source (e.g. printing pages without awareness of something we have warned about for years), then it limits our capacity to protect the source.

Unofficial EPO Circular no. 001

Whistleblowing Guidelines

for the staff of the European Patent Office

- part 1 -

Misconduct by EPO Management and Administrative Council

Are you an employee of the European Patent Office (EPO), its Boards of Appeals Unit or the secretariat of the Administrative Council? Then you won’t need to think long before you can come up with several severe cases of abuse of power1,2, misconduct and negligence2, ruthlessness1,2, a ‘reign of terror’3 – even leading to staff suicides4,5, slander6, nepotism7,8, corruption9, greed10, recent or ongoing, by EPO senior management and the representatives of the Administrative Council2(AC).

Several documents and numerous allegations have been leaked to the public during the Battistelli presidency. A more focused approach may be useful in the interests of staff and the Organisation. This document is intended to complement the legal and pseudolegal framework of the EPO, by providing, for the first time in the history of the EPO, guidelines advising EPO staff when and how to blow the whistle.

Conflict Resolution within a Model Organisation

In a model organisation, most problems would be resolved within the usual hierarchic procedures. A reliable internal system for whistleblowing or conflict mediation would also be available for bypassing the hierarchy. Furthermore, for certain cases, National law enforcement mechanisms would be available.

The EPO, on the contrary, has opted for a reign of terror. Hierarchy is used to protect superiors from subordinates. The oversight body of the EPO, the Administrative Council, regularly fails to take interest in the pleas of staff and users of the European patent system. Internal conflict resolution systems have been twisted to deny access to justice by stretching procedures to endless length and by denying basic rights to members of staff. Denunciation and self-censorship are encouraged. Social dialogue and collective bargaining through official staff representation or trade unions have been brutally crushed. Internal regulations are perverted to be used as weapons against employees11 instead of respecting their rights. The Office even overstretches the Protocol on Privileges and Immunities to hide from National authorities, which results in a legal vacuum and islands of lawlessness within the borders of the Organisation’s democratic host states.

As a consequence, external whistleblowing is not an option, it’s a must.
____
1 https://ipkitten.blogspot.com/2016/11/firings-will-continue-until-morale.html
2 https://ipkitten.blogspot.com/2016/11/remember-house-ban-how-two-years-flies.html
3 http://www.dutchnews.nl/news/archives/2015/03/european-patent-office-under-fire-over-reign-of-terror/
4 https://www.suepo.org/public/ex15152cp.pdf, https://www.suepo.org/public/ex15350cp.pdf
5 http://www.politico.eu/article/labor-relations-turn-toxic-in-the-european-patent-office/
6 http://www.iam-media.com/blog/detail.aspx?g=2141acfb-0254-48ab-a380-31fee0da7f97
7 https://www.suepo.org/documents/42912/54300.pdf
8 http://techrights.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/epo-people.pdf
9 http://www.fosspatents.com/2014/12/european-patent-office-pays-for-health.html
10 http://techrights.org/2017/03/11/suepo-on-the-functional-allowance/
11 https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/05/23/euro_patent_office_internal_rule_changes/

Part 2 will follow soon.

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