08.16.18

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Almost Two Months After the ILO Ruling Staff Representative Brumme is Finally Back on the Job at EPO

Posted in Europe, Patents at 5:04 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

A photo of Ion Brumme

Summary: Ion Brumme (above) gets his position at the EPO back, owing to the Administrative Tribunal of the International Labour Organization (ILO-AT) ruling back in July; things, however, aren’t rosy for the Office as a whole

THE EPO‘s peculiar affairs with justice go quite some while back. Things culminated in early 2015 when the EPO’s management refused to obey a Dutch court’s ruling regarding SUEPO. Aside from that, the EPO had become notorious for its kangaroo courts — a staged notion of justice (or mere ‘theatre’) as later confirmed by ILO-AT.

“Even a petition regarding patent quality needed to be made anonymous and it did not receive sufficient press coverage (not as much as it deserved anyway).”Well, belatedly (as was the case with Judge Corcoron) the EPO is complying with court rulings from ILO-AT. It is “better late than never,” the saying goes, but they had to eventually do it, even cursorily, otherwise it would count as eternal contempt of the courts.

IPPro Patents wrote about Ion Brumme, naming Aurélien Pétiaud, Michael Lund, Laurent Prunier and Elizabeth Hardon. If someone can pass to us the full message from Brumme, that would be appreciated. The article contains many fragments from it, but not the original in its entirety. To quote a couple of portions:

European Patent Office (EPO) president António Campinos must “give back the staff their voice”, according to Ion Brumme, chairman of the Staff Union of the EPO (SUEPO) Munich section.

Brumme was speaking in a message circulated to SUEPO on the day (15 August) he returned to active duty at the EPO following his dismissal two and a half years ago.

In the message Brumme revealed he had returned to the office after the International Labour Organisation (ILO) exonerated him and his colleague Malika Weaver.

Brumme specifically addressed Campinos, asking him to “stop the persecutions of union officials and staff representatives”.

“Some are still undergoing unnecessary disciplinary procedures and ILO complaints. You can put an end to this chapter. Give back the staff their voice, their pride and their dignity.”

[...]

“At present, the staff representation still has a number of staff representative casualties such as Aurélien Pétiaud, Michael Lund, Laurent Prunier and Elizabeth Hardon. One, in particular, is Laurent Prunier, who has been dismissed in The Hague. He is awaiting trial in front of the ILO.”

“I would like to ask all of you to stop supporting me financially and if you want start supporting Laurent instead. He is in a far more precarious position than me.”

It might be too late to save the Office. ILO, the European Parliament etc. failed to act on time and union-busting goes more than 3 years back. It left the staff oppressed and unable to speak. Even a petition regarding patent quality needed to be made anonymous and it did not receive sufficient press coverage (not as much as it deserved anyway). That’s how bad things became.

Oppositions at the EPO went through the roof, but some (like IAM) are trying to spin that and yesterday Managing IP (a UPC and Battistelli proponent) said:

Data published by Haseltine Lake reveals trends in European patent oppositions in 2017, as well as data on opponents, opposed patents, IPC subclasses and decisions

The rest is behind the usual paywall, which is difficult to get around. The figures presented by Haseltine Lake were cited by SUEPO in the past in relation to declining patent quality.

The EPO is making life (career-wise) difficult to departing examiners. “Trauma will ruin the health or even the family,” Brumme warned after he had been sacked by Battistelli, having to live off donations for a number of years (he has many kids to look after). Someone told us that he was very cautious and reluctant to be seen or mentioned (e.g. by Team Battistelli), especially in relation to these donations that helped sustain him and his family.

Mind this relatively new comment about privacy issues that we wrote about before, especially three years ago (more times since):

can also reassure you that there is no confidentiality at all from the EPO part!
I used to be a patent examiner in a national patent office and applied to EPO a couple of times in the past…few days after submission my boss in the national office started mobbing as he was made aware of my job application. And “coincidentally” my boss used to be a friend of EPO’s “big boss”

They are spying in order to ‘intercept’ job seekers. This means that any career at the EPO can be a career ender.

The good news is that Brumme has a source of much-needed income again; on the downside, as he points out, the EPO staff has lost its voice. Ever since the decisions from ILO-AT (late July) SUEPO has said very little. Its site has barely been active.

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