09.15.20

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Solidarity at the EPO Means Resisting the EPO’s Management and Supporting Colleagues

Posted in Europe, Patents at 10:23 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Taking personal risk by supporting fellow workers and confronting rogue management is simply the right thing to do

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Summary: We gently issue a polite call for information about the EPO; it has sadly become somewhat of an information vacuum, likely by intention, as the management doesn’t wish to be held accountable for present and past crimes

THE situation in EPOnia is rapidly getting grimmer and grimmer. Albeit quietly/silently. As time goes by the illegal and corrupt behaviour gets ‘normalised’ (the unethical is presumed ethical). This harms people’s moral consciousness and corrodes the obligation to the mission. It destroys Europe’s largest patent office, yet nobody is allowed to speak about it (the media is even paid to lie about it or at least to look the other way).

“The worst one can do is become passive about it and let there be calm/quiet, allowing abuses to be perpetuated and extended even further.”EPO insiders talk to us regularly. They’re unhappy. Imagine being forced to switch on a webcam in your own home (with family around) or lose the job. And to face dozens of people (strangers) through that webcam, basically exposing them all to companies like Microsoft, which initiated the PRISM programme of the NSA. This isn’t just unethical but also illegal. There was recently a court ruling (outcome barely publicised) backing Snowden’s actions. He was a whistle-blower, not a criminal, and he helped raise awareness of unprecedented privacy abuses.

As we said before, we’re unable to find sufficient information about the EPO and we actively look for more. It’s difficult and we could use some help. The worst one can do is become passive about it and let there be calm/quiet, allowing abuses to be perpetuated and extended even further. Sometimes people come to assume that lack of resistance means acceptance and complacency. Union-busting tactics and techniques of authoritarian regimes boil down to that; it’s demoralising. See Belarus for a recent example.

Close chatThere’s that one saying about loose lips sinking boats (or ships); at the moment at the EPO is a sinking boat not because staff is blowing the whistle but because that staff isn’t being listened to and little changes for the better. As we noted this morning, the EPO is adding another surveillance company (working closely with the FBI on eavesdropping; this is no secret!) to the EPO’s budget. They’ll be outsourcing yet more footage to the US whilst infringing principles of due process and fair trial. For particular aspects/elements of hearings, physical presence is imperative. We won’t name all the specific examples, but when it comes to debating technical inventions it helps to have one’s full body and field of vision (not a matrix of coarse pixels). Video streaming is not a substitute. Not even temporarily; laws don’t just get temporarily suspended and patents aren’t a matter of life and death anyway (even if the EPO pretends otherwise).

We’re aware that it’s harder for staff to organise and protest because of the pandemic; we also know that between home-schooling and overnight work the staff has little time/energy to research EPO scandals and gather evidence (limited physical access), but anything we can be given to substantiate facts would help colleagues. Many of them still read this site, which became a go-to place for EPO internal affairs.

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