Letter Warns of “Reform Marathon” a Few Days Before Benoît Battistelli’s Job is Offered to Someone Else

Posted in Europe, Patents at 2:16 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Will the final ‘reform’ keep him in power?

Opinion: Putin is in charge
A monarchy’s modus operandi

Summary: New letter states that “although the AC pressurised the president to halt the reform process, the Office is unilaterally proposing further reforms”

THE STAFF of the EPO is very eager to be heard, but it cannot speak out without threat of retribution. Published this week was the following letter, which warns about Battistelli’s plans. It’s a letter we were allowed to circulate here (original at epostaff4rights.org).


Reform marathon


With its March 2016 resolution1, the Administrative Council (AC), among other things, instructed the president to make a proposal for revising the investigation guidelines and the disciplinary procedures. Since then, the president has failed several times to provide a draft revision that met the expectations of the delegations. Several delegations intervened and came up with own suggestions2. While the current proposal (CA/58/17) solves some of the issues, it is still flawed. The major concern for staff lies in a lack of independence of the Disciplinary and Appeals Committees and a new fast-track procedure for judging on employee’s professional incompetence. Board 28 nevertheless signalled that they intend to support the proposal3.

And although the AC pressurised the president to halt the reform process, the Office is unilaterally proposing further reforms: a re-structuring of DG1 and DG2 (CA/65/17), and a change to the Supervisory Body of the Reserve Fund for Pension and Social Security(RFPSS).

This paper summarises the most important aspects of the planned reforms and points out the likely effects on the staff.

Standards of conduct

According to the planned reform (CA/58/17), any failure of a permanent or former employee to comply with his obligations under the Service Regulations, “whether intentionally or through negligence on his part”, may constitute misconduct (Article 21) and may make him liable to disciplinary action (Article 93). The original proposal from the “Swiss wish list” that only intentional or grossly negligent breaches of the Service Regulations should be relevant for disciplinary proceedings has not found its way into the current proposal. The current wording leaves leeway for arbitrary use of the regulation and abusive punishment.

Disciplinary and Appeals Committees

The chairman of the Disciplinary Committee (Article 97a) and the Appeals Committee (Article 111) and their alternate or vice-chairs shall “possess the qualifications required for appointment to high judicial office“ or be “lawyers with experience in the area of disciplinary law acquired at national or international level”, and they shall not be employees of the Office.

But unlike in the present system, the chair and their alternate or vice-chairs would be unilaterally appointed by the president4. The Disciplinary and Appeals Committees would therefore not be entirely paritary and thus not be independent. Moreover, the president’s final decision, i.e. the punishment imposed, may still exceed the Committee’s recommendation.5

Professional incompetence

The planned reform foresees a separation of the procedures for disciplinary matters and professional incompetence. According to the Office, “professional incompetence does not constitute per se misconduct” and the Disciplinary Committee is, for this reason, not the appropriate body to address it (CA/58/17, page 11). For dealing with professional incompetence, a new body called Joint Committee on Articles 52 and 53 will be created. The chair and alternate of the Joint Committee will be appointed by the president (Article 53a).

According to the proposed revised Article 52 “the President shall define procedures to identify, deal with and remedy cases of lack of ability and efficiency in a timely and appropriate fashion.” When these procedures are exhausted, the president may, after consulting the Joint Committee on Articles 52 and 53 take a decision on whether, on the basis of (two or more) consecutive appraisal reports, an employee shall be “dismissed, classified in a lower job group with or without downgrading or downgraded” on grounds of professional incompetence.

The new route for dealing with lack of “professional ability and efficiency” would significantly reduce the safeguards for staff.5

Investigative process

While progress has been made on the right to remain silent, the Investigative Unit (IU) will still be able to secure, access and search mobile electronic devices, including private ones.

And several other items of the “Swiss wish list” (i.e. demands of the Council) have not been dealt with: nomination of the head of the IU by the AC to secure his independence from the Office president, and duty of the IU to inform the Council when investigations are launched against staff representatives or union representatives.

Revision of presidential decisions

After exhaustion of all internal means of legal redress, (former) employees can apply to the Administrative Tribunal of the International Labour Organisation (AT-ILO).

But the ILO as the highest instance for disputes between the EPO and its employees does not hold public hearings, has no means of legal enforcement, and does not allow the filing of injunctions6. Judgments are only delivered after several years.

Worse, the ILO had several bilateral talks with the EPO administration – a party in the dispute – without informing or inviting representatives of the employees6,7.

Siegfried Broß, a former judge at the German Federal Court of Justice (DE) and later at the German Federal Constitutional Court, recently said during a lecture8 that “The legitimate, individual basic rights of the people employed by the EPO are currently not sufficiently secured by an independent judiciary.9 He does not consider the Administrative Tribunal of the ILO a “proper court9.

Change of the governance of the Reserve Fund for Pension and Social Security (RFPSS)

The payment of pensions of former EPO staff is guaranteed by the Member States. The Pension Reserve Fund supports the EPO’s pension scheme by providing appropriate reserves (Article 38 EPC).

To avoid undue interference, the RFPSS was set up in 1991 with the aim of obtaining a de facto independent reserve fund. It therefore has a tripartite Supervisory Board (SB) with a paritary composition of representatives from the Member States, the Office and the staff (1/3-1/3-1/3). It is the only EPO body where representatives of the Office and of the staff play an equal part in decision making.

The current poposal (CA/47/17 Rev 2) will mean replacing one of the two voting staff members in the SB with a pensioners’ representative, and adding two experts with voting rights. If the proposal gets approval, the staff’s voting weight would be reduced from 1/3 to 1/8, and its representation in the Board’s meetings would be diluted to at best 1/10. The influence of the Office would be strengthened since the AC would appoint the experts based on a proposal by the president.

The representation of the stakeholders in the Board would no longer be paritary. The current proposal, if adopted, would thus weaken the independence of the SB and violate the principle of “fair representation”. The CSC considers the proposal to be “neither mature nor fit for purpose10.

DG1-DG2 reorganisation

The aim of merging Patent Administration (PA) with patent examination is to achieve a “fully digitalised end-to-end [patent grant] process in the short term“ (CA/65/17, page 2). But the necessary deliveries from the IT Roadmap have not yet materialised.

The likely effects of the thus premature DG1-DG2 reform have been analysed in an earlier publication11, and can be summarised as follows:

The planned “end-to-end patent granting process”, if implemented, is likely to have a negative effect on the quality and harmonisation of PA services delivered to external users, while increasing the work pressure for the majority of the formalities officers.

The introduction of a direct reporting line between the new COOs and the president would give him even more control over the patent examination process while marginalising the role of VP1 and VP2. This planned organisational change respects the wording of Rule 9 EPC but conflicts with its spirit.

Enjoying power – and not being accountable if anything goes wrong

We believe that the President is simply trying to shift the responsibility for these new, flawed proposals from himself to the Council,” the [CSC] letter warns. ’4

Staff voted last week for strike in great numbers. We must keep the pressure up and show the Administration and the Council that we are fed up: through a strong strike.


2eg the so-called “Swiss wish list” containing proposals of the Swiss delegation (Minutes of the 149th meeting of the AC, 12 and 13 October 2016; CA/PV 149) and the joint proposal CA/32/17 (by FR, DE, NL and CH)

3B28/6/17 “The majority sentiment was that … the proposals were now ripe for decision

5 Reform of the EPO justice system (CA/58/17); sc17098cl (16 june 2017)

6ILO-AT: 90 years old and in need of repair; su17040cp (3 May 2017)

8titled “The Patent Granting Practice under the EPC – Erosion of the Rule of Law?” (at Max Planck Institute for Innovation and Competition, Munich)

10Position of the Staff on CA/47/17 Rev 2 – Change of the RFPSS Governance; sc17096cl (16 June 2017)

11EPO-FLIER No. 30 “DG1-DG2 Reorganisation” (www.epostaff4rights.org)

Share in other sites/networks: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Reddit
  • email

This post is also available in Gemini over at:


If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

What Else is New

  1. Links 4/3/2021: Pardus 19.5 is Out and Free Software Foundation Gets Consulting Grant

    Links for the day

  2. IRC Proceedings: Wednesday, March 03, 2021

    IRC logs for Wednesday, March 03, 2021

  3. The Free Software Foundation Should Re-add Richard Stallman to the Board

    Dr. Richard Stallman is missed by many who perceive him to have been wrongly treated; putting Stallman back in the Board (at the very least) would help the image of the Free Software Foundation more than the newly-announced work with Community Consulting Teams of Boston

  4. Free Software Calling

    Fewer people are willing to "put up with the shit" given by so-called 'Big Tech', seeing that it's mostly about social control rather than enablement or emancipation

  5. Meme: EPO Management Totally Gets 'Tehc'

    The bestest patent office in the whole wide world is besting the “hey hi” (AI) cutting edge; don't worry about exam and certification integrity

  6. The EPO's Software Blunders Are Inevitable Outcome of Technically Clueless Management Which Grants Illegal Patents on Software

    The "clusterfuck" which the EPO has become is negatively affecting not only EPO staff but also stakeholders, who sink into depression and sometimes anger, even fury, at great expense to their health; this is how institutions die (for a quick but short money grab, a culmination of corruption which piggybacks half a century of goodwill gestures)

  7. Links 3/3/2021: OpenSUSE Leap 15.3 Beta, GNU Denemo 2.5, and NomadBSD 1.4

    Links for the day

  8. What Free Software Organisations Can Learn From Australia's Rape Crisis

    Reprinted with permission from Daniel Pocock

  9. Microsoft Weaponises (and Further Spreads) Racism to Distract From Its Own Incompetence (and 'Five Eyes' Collusion for Back Door Access)

    Racist Microsoft is at it again; we're meant to think that China is evil for doing exactly what the United States has been doing but more importantly we're told not to blame Microsoft for shoddy code and back doors (classic blame-shifting tactics and overt distortion of facts, as we saw in the wake of SolarWinds backdoors)

  10. GNU/Linux News Sites Need to Promote Software Freedom, Not Binary and Proprietary Blobs Merely Compiled for GNU/Linux

    There has been lots of proprietary fluff in GNU/Linux 'news' sites so far this week; it merits an explanation or clarification, e.g. why we should generally reject proprietary stuff and instead promote Free/libre alternatives

  11. Links 3/3/2021: OpenSSH 8.5 and Absolute64 20210302 Released

    Links for the day

  12. IRC Proceedings: Tuesday, March 02, 2021

    IRC logs for Tuesday, March 02, 2021

  13. Links 3/3/2021: IPFire 2.25 Core Update 154, Red Hat Satellite 6.8.4, Kiwi TCMS 10.0

    Links for the day

  14. Links 2/3/2021: KDE Plasma 5.21.2, Qt 6.1 Beta, Refund of Pre-installed Windows

    Links for the day

  15. 'GatoKeeper'/IP Kat (AstraZeneca) Still Suppressing and Censoring the Public Views or Internal EPO Talks About EPO Corruption

    The suppression of comments critical of the EPO‘s administration (especially corruption scandals surrounding António Campinos and Benoît Battistelli) is a real problem; those ought not be a taboo subject in comments (where bloggers used to speak about those issues openly and regularly)

  16. Pocock on Removing Cognitive Bias Around Consent

    Reprinted with permission from Daniel Pocock

  17. IRC Proceedings: Monday, March 01, 2021

    IRC logs for Monday, March 01, 2021

  18. Links 2/3/2021: Maui 1.2.1, RSS Guard 3.9.0

    Links for the day

  19. ZDNet Really Hates Golang (Maybe Because Microsoft Does)

    The Golang programming language seems to be the target of intense FUD campaigns from sites connected to Microsoft, so it’s likely a bit of a Nemesis/endgame to Microsoft monoculture (unlike Rust, which Microsoft has already pocketed and is actively besieging to promote Microsoft monopoly and hardware monoculture)

  20. Links 1/3/2021: KStars 3.5.2, ET: Legacy 2.77, Flameshot 0.9

    Links for the day

  21. Five Years of António Campinos Coverage in Techrights (We Correctly Predicted His Presidency in March 2016)

    We've warned about António Campinos since March of 2016; well, António Campinos isn't just EPO President right now but he's also an oppressor who demonises the union of the EPO's staff

  22. In 2021 the EPO Works for Parasites Instead of Scientists (and It Cannot Even Hide That Anymore)

    Europe's second-largest institution is working for those who attack instead of create (or those who attack actual creators, with lousy and sketchy patents as ammunition)

  23. Links 1/3/2021: Manjaro ARM 21.02 and First Linux 5.12 RC Released

    Links for the day

  24. IRC Proceedings: Sunday, February 28, 2021

    IRC logs for Sunday, February 28, 2021

  25. On Gangstalking and Victim-Blaming

    Reprinted with permission from Daniel Pocock

  26. If the Web Can Be Increasingly Replaced (or Complemented) by Gemini and IPFS Etc., Then Large Monopolists Will Try to Dominate Those

    Monopolists and sociopaths won't be clapping and cheering for whatever stands a chance of replacing the Web (or Big Banks); if they ever embrace those replacements, it'll be to dominate and in turn undermine these

  27. Links 28/2/2021: Nitrux 1.3.8 and Kraft 0.96

    Links for the day

  28. Techrights Over 3 Internet Protocols and From the Command Line, Using Either Curl/Wget/Text Editor (Over WWW) or IPFS or Gemini

    A quick demo of how Techrights can be accessed without a browser, either over gemini:// or over http://

  29. The Command Line for Weather and Football Scores, Among Other Stuff

    A lot of stuff can be done from the command line and productivity (not to mention privacy) enhanced by automation and scripting over the Web (or even Gemini, as we shall show in a future video)

  30. You Know Gemini Space is Getting a Lot Bigger When You Need to Implement DDOS Protection

    Techrights is currently working on tools or programs that help detect and respond to DDOS attacks (or abusive over-consumption of pages) over gemini://

RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

Recent Posts