06.27.18

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Corruption at the EPO Should be a Subject Anybody Can Speak About, Even Insiders

Posted in Europe, Patents at 3:59 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Certainly the independent (in principle) judges at the Boards of Appeal

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan at EPO

Summary: The latest ILO-AT rulings, which included the cases of at least three staff representatives, as analysed/interpreted by longtime EPO observers

RECENTLY, in light of some truly dodgy moves from EPO management, we became a lot less reluctant to refer to the EPO and Battistelli as “corrupt”. That’s just what it has come to. We’re not even talking about merely ethical problems, such as abject lack of 'diversity' at the Office, with French Presidents for almost 17 years in a period of just two decades (yes, António Campinos is French).

Here’s a reminder (visual):

French EPO

SUEPO spoke about these issues several times over the years. It’s a lot worse when one looks at the top-level management (beyond Presidents), not just based on nationality but past employment and sometimes family connections.

“The SUEPO Web site (including the former “forums”) is publicly-accessible and SUEPO officials are well known to EPO management (the structure of SUEPO and the underlying functions).”This kind of entryism at the Office is a real issue; it’s not an entirely unique issue, as it appears to have happened (to a lesser degree) in the US. There’s one anonymous account writing about USPTO appointments by nepotism — a subject many USPTO insiders are well aware of. Yesterday this account said: “Rumors are flying that Pam Isom, an infamous hire of John Ownes and Tony Chiles, is leaving. Reportedly going to DOE, we give her 6 months. No news of the new CIO but we are expecting an announcement any day now. CIO staff seems to be embracing the arrival of Debbie Stephens. GL [] Confirmed: Pam Isom is leaving PTO. Now to get rid of some of the idiots she promoted or hired. Hopefully Debbie Stephens can help with this duty. We are pretty sure David Chiles will keep everything in place if selected as CIO.”

“Thankfully, however, assuming Campinos obeys ILO-AT rulings (the EPO did not do this for Judge Corcoran), SUEPO will get a shot of adrenaline; not only will it get some representation back but the record will show that SUEPO was right…”Perhaps SUEPO’s mistake isn’t that it said something wrong (it didn’t!) but that it wasn’t anonymous or ‘undercover’ enough. The SUEPO Web site (including the former “forums”) is publicly-accessible and SUEPO officials are well known to EPO management (the structure of SUEPO and the underlying functions).

So Battistelli, seeing that people were talking about his nepotists and his corrupt hires, decided to destroy SUEPO. Over the past few months SUEPO has barely been active and recent reports say that SUEPO officials nowadays operate in a rather clandestine fashion/nature (for fear of reprisals/retributions).

Thankfully, however, assuming Campinos obeys ILO-AT rulings (the EPO did not do this for Judge Corcoran), SUEPO will get a shot of adrenaline; not only will it get some representation back but the record will show that SUEPO was right (as Techrights covered last night, with an update about the staff representation added later).

This morning Kluwer Patent Blog wrote the following:

In the last week of his term as president of the European Patent Office and a day before the official opening of the new EPO building in The Netherlands, president Benoit Battistelli lost three high-profile cases at the Administrative Tribunal of the International Labour Organisation (ILOAT). The tribunal said Battistelli’s decisions to dismiss SUEPO leaders Elizabeth Hardon and Ion Brumme and to downgrade their colleague Malika Weaver were wrong and must be set aside.

The ILOAT ordered the reinstatement of Brumme ‘to the position he held immediately before his dismissal’ and the restoration of Weaver ‘with retroactive effect to the grade and step she would have held but for the imposition of the disciplinary sanction’, payment of interest on the resulting remuneration arrears ‘at the rate of 5 per cent per annum from due dates until the date of payment’, payment of moral damages in the sum of 30.000 (Brumme) and 25.000 (Weaver) euros and the payment of costs in the sum of 8.000 euros (cases 4042 and 4043, published on 26 June 2018).

Both SUEPO leaders had been charged with breaching their duties under the Service Regulations – in the case of Ion Brumme inciting Malika Weaver to do so – by unduly pressuring an EPO employee to continue litigation against the EPO and by disclosing confidential information. But the ILOAT concluded they did nothing wrong.

Märpel too posted some quick remarks:

Märpel is delighted to hear that Mr Ion Brumme, former SUEPO Munich chairperson, has been fully reinstated by ILOAT…

And of course IP Kat (or Merpel) has said absolutely nothing about it. It’s nowadays on the same side as Battistelli; its people even do photo ops with him. How things have changed since the blog’s founder left…

Here’s one reader’s personal analysis, which was shared with it today:

Malika, Ion and Elizabeth have won their cases.

The Tribunal pointed out that Malika’s and Ion’s actions were appropriate and irreproachable. Ion is to be reinstated and Malika’s downgrading to be reversed.

The disciplinary committee and the president have not handled the case of Elizabeth correctly. They have not established any of the alleged wrongdoings beyond any reasonable doubt, the required standard for disciplinary proceedings. Since the proceedings were flawed, the case is sent back to the Organisation. If the Office wants to pursue the matter further, the entire disciplinary procedure will need to be repeated – by a new disciplinary committee while taking account of the Council’s March 2016 Resolution.
Since Elizabeth retired in the meantime, as mentioned in the judgment, it is rather speculative whether the new administration has interest in pursuing her case further.

All in all, a clear victory for the staff and a clear defeat for the dictator.

Later today this dictator will inaugurate a construction site! Don’t forget to wear your helmets, people.

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