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Heiko Maas May Need to Belatedly Answer Complaint About Illegal Spying on Staff at the EPO

Posted in Europe, Patents at 4:19 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Heiko Maas and the use of keyloggers at the EPO a subject which deserves to be revisited now that the practice is officially ruled illegal in Germany

THE subject of illegal surveillance at the EPO was mostly covered here 2 years ago. We have no reason to believe anything has improved since then. Keyloggers and hidden cameras are something to be expected from the Stasi and in fact the EPO hired a firm with connections to the Stasi (through Desa).

As we noted here yesterday, the subject was brought back from the dead or naturally arose in light of a German ruling.

“Here is a report in English about the recent judgment from the Federal Labour Court,” one reader told us. We already linked to various English articles about it last week (in our daily links under the privacy section).

This reader sent us what s/he called a “copy of the letter sent to Heiko Maas in 2015 complaining amongst other things about the use of keyloggers at the EPO (original in German plus English translation). [EN, DE]

“No response was ever received from the Ministry of Justice.”

Here is the German version:

Ortssektion München . Local Section Munich . Section locale de Munich

12.06.2015

su15060ml – 0.2.2/0.4.2/5.3/
Herrn
Heiko Maas, MdB
Bundesminister der Justiz und für Verbraucherschutz
Mohrenstraße 37
10117 Berlin

Betreff: Resolution des Personals des Europäischen Patentamtes in München

München, 12. Juni 2015

Sehr geehrter Herr Bundesminister,

das Personal des Europäischen Patentamtes (EPA) in München ist gestern zu einer Generalversammlung zusammengetreten. Dabei wurde – immerhin einstimmig – eine Resolution verabschiedet, welche sich an Sie richtet. Sie ist diesem Schreiben angefügt.

Die Zustände im EPA sind weiterhin weit davon entfernt, normal oder gar entspannt zu sein. Die Zeichen der Entspannung, die kürzlich sichtbar wurden, haben sich leider nach kurzer Zeit bereits als Augenwischerei entpuppt.

Der Verwaltungsrat der Europäischen Patentorganisation (EPO) hat den Präsidenten des Amtes zwar dazu gedrängt, sich mit den Gewerkschaften an einen Tisch zu setzen; dennoch laufen die Gespräche in den zugehörigen Arbeitsgruppen so, wie sie immer laufen: sie stagnieren. Während die Gewerkschaften bereits mehrere Vorschläge eingebracht haben, kamen dazu amtsseitig immer wieder klare Absagen. Unser Eindruck ist daher auch, dass die Existenz dieser Gespräche wohl doch nur den Anschein der Gesprächsbereitschaft erwecken sollen, die in Wahrheit aber gar nicht existiert.

Wir sehen uns in dieser Auffassung weiter bestärkt, weil der Herr Präsident zwar in die Gespräche eingewilligt hat, aber zeitgleich gegen Mitglieder der Personalvertretung Ermittlungen und Verhöre anstrengen ließ. Diese werden von einer externen Ermittlerfirma, Control Risks [1], durchgeführt. Control Risks war bereits bei der Deutschen Telekom, der Deutschen Post, der Lufthansa, der Deutschen Bank und etlichen anderen Unternehmen in Bespitzelungsskandalen [2] aufgefallen. Auch „Der Spiegel“ berichtete [3], dass Control Risks bei seinen Ermittlungstätigkeiten mitunter sogar auf ehemalige Inoffizielle Mitarbeiter des Ministeriums für Staatssicherheit der früheren DDR zurückgegriffen hat. Wir können derzeit nicht sagen, ob ehemalige IMs nun im EPA ermitteln: entsprechende Nachfragen bei Control Risks blieben inhaltlich unbeantwortet.

Auch die Pressemeldungen in der „Süddeutschen Zeitung“ der vergangenen Tage zeigen [4], dass bei den Verantwortlichen im EPA das Gespür für die Grenzen ihrer Befugnisse völlig fehlt. So wurden im EPA-Hauptgebäude öffentlich zugängliche Rechner mit sogenannten Keyloggern versehen, also verwanzt. Da diese Rechner auch von Patentanwälten in den Verhandlungspausen vor den Beschwerdekammern genutzt wurden, kann nicht ausgeschlossen werden, dass vertrauliche Kommunikation über E-Mail zwischen Anwälten und ihren jeweiligen Mandanten vom Amt überwacht wurde. Darüber hinaus tagten, während diese Rechner verwanzt waren, die höchsten Gremien der EPOunter anderem der Verwaltungsrat. Es ist ebenfalls nicht ausgeschlossen, dass zahlreiche Delegierte der 38 Vertragsstaaten diese Rechner nutzten. Der Vertrauensverlust der Öffentlichkeit in das EPA ist unerträglich.

Wir sind der Auffassung, dass Herr Battistelli nicht mehr in der Lage ist, dieses selbsterzeugte Chaos zu kontrollieren, geschweige denn, wieder in Ordnung zu bringen. So hatte er zunächst vom Verwaltungsrat ein neues Karrieresystem beschließen lassen, in das er – wohl aus Versehen – eine Probezeit und finanzielle Boni für Richter vorgesehen hat. Nun rudert er zurück, legt dem Verwaltungsrat das Dokument CA/49/15 (nicht öffentlich) vor und hofft, dass es damit getan ist. Aber auch dieses Dokument musste er am Vorabend der Pflichtkonsultation des Personalausschusses zurückziehen und revidieren, ohne die revidierte Fassung zu den Beratungen vorlegen zu können. So kommen wir auch zu dem Schluss, dass CA/49/15 ein schriftlicher Beleg für die gescheiterte Politik eines gescheiterten Präsidenten ist. Wir legen seine Ablösung nahe.

Sehr geehrter Herr Bundesminister, wir bitten Sie, im Rahmen der angehängten Resolution tätig zu werden.

Mit freundlichen Grüßen,

Elizabeth M. Hardon
IGEPA München
Vorsitzende

Referenzen:
[1] Control Risks: https://www.controlrisks.com/
[2] Spiegel, “The Dark Side of Power: German Corporate Spying Scandal Widens”

http://www.spiegel.de/international/business/the-dark-side-of-power-german-corporate-spying-scandal-widens-a-558510.html

[3] Spiegel, “Attack on Customer Data: Lufthansa Admits Spying on Journalist”

http://www.spiegel.de/international/business/attack-on-customer-data-lufthansa-admits-spying-on-journalist-a-558312.html

[4] Süddeutsche Zeitung, “Späh-Skandal – Europäisches Patentamt überwachte
Mitarbeiter mit Keyloggern”, 8 Juni 2015

http://www.sueddeutsche.de/muenchen/internes-schreiben-patente-ueberwacher-1.2511405


Ortssektion München . Local Section Munich . Section locale de Munich

11.06.2015
su15058mpd – 0.2.2/0.3.1/0.3.2/5.1

RESOLUTION

Das Personal des Europäischen Patentamtes in München, das in einer Generalversammlung zusammengetreten ist,

stellt fest, dass

- der angebliche Versuch, den „Sozialen Dialog“ wieder aufleben zu lassen, auf die sogenannten ‘trilateralen’1 Gespräche zur Anerkennung der Gewerkschaften beschränkt ist, während die tatsächlichen, aktuellen Probleme des EPA (wie Vetternwirtschaft, der vergiftete Führungsstil und der Machtmissbrauch von Herrn Battistelli, sowie das Einführen von Reformen, welche die verfassungsmäßigen Grundrechte des Personals des EPA, die allen freien Bürgern zustehen, verletzen), nicht einmal ansatzweise gelöst werden;
- Herr Battistelli zwar öffentlich vorgibt, den „Sozialen Dialog“ zu fördern, im Verborgenen aber die private Ermittlerfirma (Control Risks) engagiert hat, um gegen Mitglieder der
Personalvertretung des EPA zu ermitteln, wodurch er einmal mehr seine Glaubwürdigkeit bezüglich seiner Bemühungen um den sozialen Frieden in Frage stellt;
- der Verwaltungsrat des EPA, der die fragwürdigen Reformen trotz Kenntnis über die massiven Unzulänglichkeiten dennoch beschlossen hat; der in Vergangenheit und Gegenwart konsequent den Präsidenten unterstützt; der in Vergangenheit und Gegenwart konsequent daran gescheitert ist, das Unrecht, einschließlich der Angriffe auf die Personalvertretung, zu unterbinden, ein Teil des Problems ist,

stellt weiter fest, dass
- die Bundesrepublik Deutschland, (i) deren Staatsbürger ein Viertel des Personals des EPA stellen, (ii) deren Staatsgebiet zwei Drittel des Personals des EPA beherbergt, und (iii) die am meisten von den Vorteilen des EPA profitiert, sowohl in Bezug auf die Jahresgebühren als auch andere Einnahmen, auf ihrem Staatsgebiet die oben genannte Vetternwirtschaft, den vergifteten Führungsstil, den Machtmissbrauch und die Verletzung von Grundrechten, bisher geduldet hat,

FORDERT
Herrn Heiko Maas, MdB, Bundesminister der Justiz und somit höchster Amtsträger seiner Regierung in der Europäischen Patentorganisation AUF,
- alle Maßnahmen zu ergreifen, die geeignet sind, den sozialen Frieden im EPA wieder herzustellen indem die Rechtsstaatlichkeit garantiert wird;
- dem Herrn Präsidenten im Verwaltungsrat die Vertrauensfrage stellen zu lassen;
- sicherzustellen, dass die Grundrechte, die jedermann in Deutschland genießt, auch für die Bediensteten des EPA gelten.

München, 10. Juni 2015
_________
1 Mit dem Präsident des Amts, Mitgliedern des Verwaltungsrats und EPA Gewerkschaften

Here is the English translation:

Ortssektion München . Local Section Munich . Section locale de Munich

12.06.2015
su15060mle – 0.2.2/0.4.2/5.3/

Mr Heiko Maas, MdB
Federal Minister of Justice and Consumer Protection
Mohrenstrasse 37
D – 10117 Berlin

Re: Resolution by the Personnel of the European Patent Office in Munich

Munich, 12 June 2015

Dear Minister,

The personnel of the European Patent Office (EPO) in Munich convened yesterday at a General Meeting. A resolution was then adopted, unanimously, which is directed to yourself. It is appended to this letter.

The conditions at the EPO continue to be far from normal or in any way relaxed. The signs of easing of tension which were more recently evident have regrettably transpired, after only a brief period, to be mere window-dressing.

The Administrative Council of the European Patent Organization (EPOrg) has indeed been urging the President to sit down with the staff unions. Nevertheless, the discussions in the relevant working groups have progressed as they have always done; they do not – they stagnate. While the unions have already introduced numerous proposals, there has repeatedly been nothing but clear rejection on the part of the Office. It is also our impression that the very existence of these talks was intended to give an appearance of readiness to enter in to dialogue, which in reality simply does not exist.

We see our view in this matter further reinforced by the fact that the President, while approving the talks, has at the same time been arranging for investigations and eavesdropping targeted at members of the staff representation body. These actions are being undertaken by an outside firm of investigators, Control Risks [1]. Control Risks have already been embroiled in informant scandals [2] at Deutsche Telekom, Deutsche Post, Lufthansa, Deutsche Bank, and numerous other concerns. “Der Spiegel” [3] has also reported that Control Risks have even made recourse, in their investigation activities, to former unofficial personnel from the Ministry of State Security of the former GDR. We cannot say at present whether former IM members are now conducting investigations at the EPO. Enquiries made to Control Risks in this respect remain unanswered.

The press reports in the “Süddeutsche Zeitung” in the past few days show [4] that the persons responsible at the EPO have entirely lost any sense of the limits of their powers and authority. By way of example, at the EPO main building, publicly accessible computers have been fitted with what are referred to as key loggers; in other words, they have been bugged. The possibility cannot be excluded that these computers have also been used by patent attorneys in the interludes in negotiations with the Boards of Appeals, and that confidential communications by E-mail between attorneys and their clients are being monitored by the Office. In addition to this, while these computers were being bugged, the most highly placed executive bodies of the EPO were meeting, among them the Administrative Council. The possibility is likewise not to be excluded that many of the delegates from the 38 Member States have been using these computers. The loss of trust on the part of the public with regard to the EPO is incalculable.

We are of the opinion that Mr Battistelli is no longer in a position to control this chaos which is of his own making, let alone restore order. By way of example, he had initially arranged for a new career system to be approved by the Administrative Council, in which, probably as an oversight, provision was made for a trial period and financial bonuses for judges. He is now back-pedalling, and has presented the Administrative Council with the document CA/49/15 (not for public access), and is hoping that this has resolved the matter. But even this document had to be withdrawn during the evening before the mandatory consultation with the Personnel Committee, and was revised, without it being possible for the revised version to be presented to the consultative proceedings. We therefore come to the conclusion that CA/49/15 is written proof of the failed policy of a failed President. We anticipate his departure.

Minister, we ask you to take action in the context of the appended Resolution.

Yours faithfully

Elizabeth M. Hardon
SUEPO Munich
Chair

References:
[1] Control Risks: https://www.controlrisks.com
[2] Spiegel, “The Dark Side of Power: German Corporate Spying Scandal Widens”

http://www.spiegel.de/international/business/the-dark-side-of-power-german-corporate-spying-scandal-widens-a-55851.html

[3] Spiegel, “Attack on Customer Data: Lufthansa Admits Spying on Journalist”

http://www.spiegel.de/international/business/attack-on-customer-data-lufthansa-admits-spying-on-journalist-a-558312.html

[4] Süddeutsche Zeitung, “Späh-Skandal-Europäisches Patentamt überwachte Mitarbeiter
mit Keyloggern”, 8 June 2015

http://www.sueddeutsche.de/muenchen/internes-schreiben-patente-ueberwacher-1.2511405


Ortssektion München . Local Section Munich . Section locale de Munich

11.06.2015
su15058mpe – 0.2.2/0.3.1/0.3.2/5.1

RESOLUTION

Staff of the European Patent Office in Munich, having convened at a General Meeting

determine, that
- the alleged attempt to resume “Social Dialogue” is restricted to the so-called “trilateral”1 discussion regarding the recognition of the staff union, while the actual and immediate problems of the EPO (nepotism, the toxic management style, and the abuse of power by Mr Battistelli, as well as the introduction of reforms which infringe the basic constitutional rights of EPO personnel, which all free citizens enjoy) have not been remotely addressed;
- Mr Battistelli proclaims in public that he promotes “Social Dialogue”, while he has covertly engaged the private investigator company (Control Risks) to conduct investigations against members of the staff representation bodies of the EPO, thereby once again calling into question his credibility with regard to efforts to achieve social peace;
- the Administrative Council of the EPO, which, despite being aware of massive shortcomings and deficiencies, has adopted the questionable reforms, has in the past consistently supported the President and still does so, has in the past failed, and still does fail, to redress the wrongs which have been and are being committed, including the attacks on the staff representative bodies, and is a part of the problem,

further determine that
- the Federal Republic of Germany, (i) citizens of which make up a quarter of the staff of the EPO, (ii) on the territory of which two-thirds of the staff of the EPO are resident, and (iii) which profits the most from the advantages of the EPO, both with regard to annual fees as well as other income, and on the sovereign territory of which are perpetrated the nepotism referred to, the toxic management style, the abuse of power, and the infringement of basic rights, has hitherto tolerated this situation,

DEMAND
that Mr Heiko Maas, MdB, Federal Minister of Justice and therefore holder of the highest office of his Government in the European Patent Organization,
- takes all measures suitable and appropriate to restore social peace at the EPO, such that the status of a state governed by rule of law is guaranteed;
- raises the question of confidence of the President in the Administrative Council;
- ensures that the basic rights which every person in Germany enjoys also apply to the personnel of the EPO.

Munich, 10 June 2015

_________
1 With the President of the Office, members of the Administrative Council, and EPO staff unions

We don’t expect to ever hear anything from Heiko Maas regarding the EPO. He has many reasons to turn a blind eye, including — potentially — a Lufthansa scandal that needs sweeping under the rug (more on that soon).

The author of the above letter has since then been fired — in a very Putinist fashion — by Battistelli.

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