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06.27.18

SUEPO and EPO Staff Respond to Yesterday’s ILO-AT Rulings on Malika Weaver, Ion Brumme, and Elizabeth Hardon

Posted in Europe, Patents at 11:01 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Fair trial

Summary: Some of the latest statements on Battistelli’s botched union-busting activities, including an official publication from SUEPO (Staff Union of the EPO) itself

TODAY is a busy day because Battistelli inaugurates a construction site and national delegates reconvene to debate — among other things (at least in the hallway) — yesterday’s major news from ILO. We covered that 2 hours after the live session (with crucial updates later in the evening) and then again this morning (focusing on the corruption aspect Battistelli attempted to squash discussions about). Will there be time (or even a point) for the Council to reprimand Battistelli for this utter fiasco? Many comments today say that the EPO is in “tatters” (see all the comments in Kluwer Patent Blog for example).

There are lots of capital letters at SUEPO’s Web site today. Updates were posted only hours ago, titled “SUEPO NEWSFLASH” and “THE ATILO SETS ASIDE THE DISCIPLINARY MEASURES WHICH BATTISTELLI INFLICTED ON ELS HARDON, ION BRUMME & MALIKA WEAVER”. It’s a three-page document [PDF]. We have made a local copy just in case [PDF].

SUEPO’s words about it were also mentioned in this new article, listed by SUEPO some hours ago. Here’s what it said:

The International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) Administrative Tribunal has exonerated several European Patent Office (EPO) staff who were in disputes with the office.
Specifically, the tribunal set aside three decisions by the EPO’s disciplinary committee and president Benoît Battistelli against EPO staff members Malika Weaver, Ion Brumme, and Elizabeth Hardon.

[...]

Commenting on the resolutions to these cases, SUEPO said: “We are grateful for the clear signals from the tribunal in respect of egregious abuses, but we feel caution is in order.”

“More cases are pending, most prominently that of Laurent Prunier, dismissed in 2016 and whose case is not yet up for being treated by the tribunal (it will be at the earliest in Q4 2018, possibly later).”

“Also we are not happy with the results of the cases of Aurélien Pétiaud and Michael Lund to whom go our thoughts.”

Prunier was reportedly dismissed against the will of the EPO’s Administrative Council in 2016.

The council requested that Battistelli ensure that disciplinary sanctions and proceedings were not only fair, but also seen to be so, under the possibility of an external reviewer or of arbitration and mediation, according to SUEPO.

Further, it requested that the president notify the Administrative Council before further decisions in disciplinary cases were taken.

One source told us: “Only a few days are left before the lodger of the 10th floor apartment in the Isar Building of the EPO will take flight to another institution where he can rule unhampered and serve himself to benefits with the same disregard for law as in his previous post. A dark period in the history of international institutions will hopefully close and a slight ray of hope will flicker among the staff and everybody else concerned about the EPO.

“The official Gazette together with all the cronies and sycophants will, and have already started to, sing songs of praise to his leadership, but seen from down in the lower floors, from the offices of those who kept the EPO working throughout its years, the assessment is, unsurprisingly, a different one. We in the West tend to look down upon less developed countries in Africa or Central Asia and apply terms like “tribalism” or “clanism” [but in] supposedly wonderful examples of unselfish cooperation between European states in international institutions. But if there is one word that best describes Mr. Battistelli’s management style, this is “tribalism”/”clanism” or, closer to Mr. Battistelli’s Sicilian roots, Mafia. This French “énarque” brought to the EPO culture of nepotism, corruption and sycophancy unheard of in the history of the EPO and leaves behind a management [in ruins] He took over the top management level as by a coup and installed a dozen of his French friends in key positions, at least once by a blatant bending of the promotion rules. The scandalous appointment of Elodie Bergot, wife of Gilles Requena, director and head of the President’s Office, as Principal Director of Human Resources, was the first sign of disregard for rules and appearances and this was only the beginning. With Elodie Bergot as the main actor Mr. Battistelli started a campaign against the Staff Representation culminating with firing three of its representatives and punishing several others. Megalomaniac, he surrounded himself by bodyguards and established an investigation unit more commonly known inside the EPO as “Stasi”.

“One can imagine his fury and vengefulness when he discovered that he couldn’t fire Patrick Corcoran, the Board of Appeal judge whose life he turned into a nightmare. With the help of the complicit Administrative Council he prolonged the maximum suspension period from 4 months to 24 months, only to see the judge exonerated by ILOAT, the international labour tribunal otherwise not known for a friendly stance towards EPO employees.

“Although enjoying immunity and thus not being liable for being sued himself, Mr. Battistelli, together with his vice-president Topic, another bizarre choice of top manager involved in pending criminal and civil lawsuits in Croatia, sued Mr. Corcoran privately for defamation. Mr. Corcoran was acquitted of all charges both by the Local Court (Amtsgericht München) and on appeal by the Regional Court of Munich (Landgericht München). Mrs. Bergot continued their persecution of Mr. Corcoran. Ignoring that the reputation of the EPO is based on its superior quality Mr. Battistelli ordered a continuous target raise which led to a remarkable 40% increase of granted patents in one year (2016 vs 2015) but also to complaints regarding the consequent decreasing quality.

“Not entirely unselfish, Mr. Battistelli and his right hand, Mrs. Bergot, implemented a system of bonuses such that the deserving examiners got 3000 EUR at the end of the year while the top management (directors excluded) got a three-month bonus (60,000-75,000 EUR). Vengeful, megalomaniac, paranoid, power and money greedy, corrupt and lacking any management skills, Mr. Battistelli leaves behind a toxic culture of management by fear, incompetence, cronyism, nepotism and an office where the depressed examiners and directors despise the top managers and hope, maybe in vain, that the axe will soon fall upon Mr. Battistelli’s minions still left behind after his departure (with Elodie Bergot as a manager involved in the institutional harrassment of the staff representatives). An office once highly respected, now a shade of itself, marred by institutional abuses and in the crossfire of its users for its declining quality. Let’s hope Mr. Campinos will remove the critical Battistelli appointments and restore the EPO to the respectable office which it once was.

“PS The latest ILOAT decisions are a slap in the face of the “Battistelli system”. In imperial Japan Battistelli, Bergot and the rest involved in the harassment of the staff representatives would’ve committed, or would’ve been asked to commit, seppuku.

“That’s it. A goodbye to Battistelli.”

There are even harsher comments in Kluwer Patent Blog (no doubt with more to come in various other forums)

In light of the ongoing meeting of the Administrative Council this one was interesting:

According to ILOAT Judgment No. 4052 considerations 13 and 14 “the President did not consider the instruction referred to in Administrative Council Resolution CA/26/16” regarding arbitration or mediation. It will be interesting if the Administrative Council will react in its upcoming meeting.

Any more input on this? Get in touch. Surely there will be some information trickling out of the Council quite soon. António Campinos starts his job next week.

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