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10.11.18

Friend Brings a Friend, Boss Becomes Subordinate: the EPO Under António Campinos is Starting to Look a Lot Like Team Battistelli 2.0

Posted in Europe, Patents at 12:27 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Original: English [PDF]

Jesper Kongstad and Battistelli working together

Summary: The new President of the EPO contributes to the perception that the Office is a rogue institution. Governance is all in reverse at the Office because it still seems like the Office President bosses the Council rather than be bossed by it (as intended, as per the EPC)

THE DAWN of the destructive Battistelli era at the EPO is well documented. Kongstad and Battistelli were arranging the roles among themselves. They undermined the structural basis of the EPO, thwarting any sense of reasonable governance in the institution which grants millions of monopolies in Europe. This later contributed to Battistelli’s ability to pretty much select his successor, his compatriot António Campinos.

The EPO nowadays looks like some African dictatorship or a Mafia family, where bodyguards are picked whose behaviour resembles that of terror groups.

“Some are renowned if not notorious for publicly denying that the EPO suffers a patent quality crisis (even though EPO examiners do say so).”With the EPC gone down the shredders, the same old patterns carry on. The EPO’s Administrative Council is nowadays a joke. It’s so incredibly toothless. Ernst, the ‘boss’ of the President (head or Chairman of the EPO’s Administrative Council), is becoming his deputy. Overnight!

Let’s start with yesterday’s EPO tweet which said: “A decision by the EPO’s Administrative Council in 1988 remains the cornerstone of European patent information today. >From that day on, the EPO has worked hard to increase & to harmonise patent information dissemination in Europe. [] 1988 was the year the European patent information policy came to life.”

Now they try to do the same to enforcement/litigation (UPC), but they have thus far failed miserably. Patents as a form of information would be benign; with patent maximalists in charge, however, patent litigation can kill innovation and depress progress.

People whose appreciation of patent quality is rather poor have been put in charge by Battistelli and now Campinos puts people with background in trademarks… in charge of patents. Some are renowned if not notorious for publicly denying that the EPO suffers a patent quality crisis (even though EPO examiners do say so). So what hope is there for imminent improvements at the Office?

“Nellie Simon has been appointed as EPO Vice President Corporate Services by the Administrative Council of the EPO, replacing the controversial predecessor Željko Topić,” one person wrote in Twitter some hours ago. “Criminal or crooked perhaps,” I responded, “not “controversial”. Wrong C word.”

It’s an understatement to call him “controversial” given all he has done even outside the EPO, especially in his home country. We wrote about Nellie Simon earlier this month because we heard that the job had been secured by her if not reserved for her (and the job description tailored for her background/skills, as some people allege). Era dawns for nepotism of Campinos? He is bringing a former colleague, just like Battistelli (EUIPO and INPI, respectively). The EPO tweeted about it after publishing this page (warning: epo.org link) titled “Nellie Simon appointed as next EPO Vice-President for Corporate Services.” (same text as the tweet)

To quote:

The Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation has appointed Nellie Simon Vice-President of the European Patent Office’s Directorate-General Corporate Services. Ms Simon, an Austrian national, will succeed Željko Topić of Croatia. The appointment takes effect on 1 January 2019 and is for five years.

Ms Simon is currently Head of Cabinet and Acting Director of the Academy at the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO).

The EPO’s Directorate-General Corporate Services is responsible for delivering support services including Human Resources, Information Management, Finance, General Administration, and Central Procurement.

Campinos brings with him former colleagues rather than people best suited for the job, just like Battistelli did.

Next in line? Christoph Ernst, a king of nepotism. The EPO tweeted about it. So Campinos turns his boss into his assistant. Just when you thought that the EPO is a joke it tries hard to prove it. From the corresponding page: (warning: epo.org link)

The Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation, in a meeting chaired by the Council’s Deputy Chairman, Josef Kratochvíl, has appointed Christoph Ernst Vice-President of the European Patent Office’s (EPO) Directorate-General Legal and International Affairs. Mr Ernst will succeed fellow German Raimund Lutz. The appointment is for five years starting on 1 January 2019.

Christoph Ernst is currently head of directorate at the German Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection, and has served as Chairman of the Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation since 1 October 2017.

The EPO’s Directorate-General Legal and International Affairs is in charge of European and international co-operation, patent law and multilateral affairs, legal services, patent information and the European Patent Academy.

As Chairman of the Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation he ‘bossed’ Campinos; now he’ll take instructions or orders from Campinos. Makes a lot of sense, right? Maybe if he was tougher on Campinos (or even Battistelli) he would not be ‘awarded’ this full-time job.

Welcome to African dictatorship-type ethical standards at the very heart of Europe. EPO-connected publishers wrote about the next appointment: “The European Patent Office appointed a UK Intellectual Property Office director as the vice president for its patent granting process today.”

Here is the original: (warning: epo.org link) [via Twitter]

The Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation, the Organisation’s legislative body, has appointed Stephen Rowan Vice-President of the European Patent Office Directorate-General Patent Granting Process. The appointment will take effect on 1 January 2019 and is for five years. He will succeed Alberto Casado Cerviño of Spain, who will retire at the end of 2018.

Mr Rowan is currently Director of Patents, Trade Marks, Designs and Tribunals at the UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO).

Some time this morning SUEPO linked to this article from Ben Wodecki in Munich. To quote:

Rowan, who succeeds the retiring Alberto Casado Cerviño, is currently the director of patents, trademarks, designs and tribunals at the UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO). He will take up his new role on 1 January 2019.

Rowan’s tenure as vice-president for patent granting process will last five years, and he will responsible for the entire patent granting process from end to end.

Examination, publication and opposition, along with all other patent-related formalities will be undertaken by Rowan.

Observers aren’t missing any of this. Some are very critical of these appointments, some of which were predictable (at the very least based on rumours). After a relatively soft piece about Campinos came 5 comments, one of which accused the EPO of “pretending towards staff they would care about quality when, at the same time, they instruct their managers to keep production pressure to reach non-sensical targets.”

By “More of the same?” comes this long comment:

Very good article: indeed during the past 3 months nothing concrete has happened under Campinos

All those responsible for the mess are still comfortably seating at their positions (eg Mrs Bergot in HR, her husband at the Presidential Cabinet).

As shown by IPPropatents recently (see http://www.ippropatents.com/ippropatentsnews/article.php?article_id=6101) principal directors in DG1 practice a double language: pretending towards staff they would care about quality when, at the same time, they instruct their managers to keep production pressure to reach non-sensical targets.

Campinos meets staff directly? Don’t be fooled: this means nothing else but him circumventing the statutory (elected) staff representation (please keep in mind that Campinos has not met yet with the SUEPO Central (which represents only about half of EPO staff).

The abusively sanctioned staff reps whose case are still on-going (eg Els Hardon, Laurent Prunier and others) have not yet been redressed. Several who won their cases at ATILO are still shamelessly mistreated by DG4 despite their case clearly won.

Worse: Campinos even fired an examiner despite the Staff Representatives having asked to postpone the decision since it is very likely that the legal provisions are illegal (more dismissal are in sight since DG4 wants to continue its mad carpet bombing towards the workfloor).

For someone (Campinos) who is said to have a positive track record when it comes to social matters, sorry but his first 3 months are really disappointing!

As a comparison see Air France: a new CEO arrives and within 2 weeks he has met ALL unions and the HR boss (largely responsible for the social mess) leaves the company…

WAKE UP Antonio Campinos

“Cautiously positive” then wrote about “crazy production targets”:

Yes, we are all patiently waiting for his next moves.
For the time being, as you wrote, not much has happened.
Good news is that from 2019 we will enjoy again two days of national holidays (such as the 15th of August) that BB had boldly decided to take away from us (yes, he did that as well). Rumor says that fresh fruits and water (?!) will also be made available for free to EPO employees.

Well, I am afraid that much more than that is expected by Mr Campinos to get the EPO back in track, starting from IMMEDIATE lowering of today’s crazy production targets. Also, several “promotions” are urgently needed for us to get rid of those people who – all of them – are still around “poisoning the working atmosphere” every single day.
Things will become much clearer already after the administrative council next week, featuring the production targets for 2019 and the nomination of three new vicepresidents. Many say that both the targets and the winners were decided (by BB) long time ago. Let’s see whether Mr Campinos is willing to surprise us.
Good luck Mr President. We are watching you, cautiously positively.

“David Dickinson” complained about censorship by the EPO:

With regards to once again allowing comments to be posted on the President’s blog, something President Brimelow had introduced and then President Battistelli had suppressed, for the moment the “facility” remains on the website, but it has not been restored. Always the optimist, I understand that this “normal” channel will be opened again soon.

However, for the moment, submitting a comment just leads you nowhere. I tried in early July and didn’t even get an acknowledgement, let alone a posting or a rejection (all postings are subject to screening). A follow-up enquiry to Internal Communications went similarly unanswered, as did an e-mail to the President’s Office. Finally, it was even brought up in a personal face-to-face meeting with the President, where it was acknowledged that things would (have to) change (hence my optimism above), but until now I have neither seen nor received one iota of follow-up.

I accept this is probably not the highest priority on the Presidential agenda, but I would have appreciated some acknowledgment of receipt of my comment, if only out of common courtesy. I certainly do not blame the President, but I do wonder whether it ever received serious consideration for publication or was simply “filtered out” by some over-zealous bureaucrat.

By the way, the content of my posting was not at all critical, rather complimentary. Acknowledging the apparent opening up of the blog, it wished the (then brand-new) President well and hoped that it was his intention to try and realise his goals through collaboration and openness with staff rather than intimidation and Diktat …

Tamara wrote: “Mr Campinos is following a well-worn path in having “face -to-face” meetings with individual staff. We have been here before, times out of mind. There was the “Broad Consultation” and other similar initiatives by newly-arrived Presidents and Vice-Presidents. I can’t remember the names of all of them, but they had in common an attempt to seem to be addressing staff’s concerns, whilst studiously avoiding the staff’s elected representatives. You will not get an honest picture from a group of staff that either self-selects with a view to ingratiating themselves with the new powers that be, or is selected against for known unpalatable views. On one occasion there was even written proof that the management planned to falsely claim that performance -related pay had been demanded by staff in one such “consultation”.”

Battistelli used the same tricks, which SUEPO complained about. Team Battistelli cherry-picked which staff it can speak to in order to construct propaganda about the working atmosphere. Campinos and his sheep clothing are getting rather thin and people start to see that Campinos is to Battistelli what Fanta is to Coca Cola (Fanta is owned by Coca Cola, but the branding can confuse some people).

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