Inside the EPO During Corona: António Campinos Running Europe’s Monopolies-Granting Monopoly Like a Shop With Essentials While Crushing Those Who ‘Stock the Shelves’

Posted in Europe, Patents at 2:23 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

He didn’t come from a patents background; he doesn’t know what the heck he’s doing

António Campinos patents cash

Summary: The EPO’s very own ‘Orange Dictator’ (who isn’t leaving the helm in January 2021) has been weaponising the deadly virus to undermine the election process and crush not only constituents (staff) but also their local representatives

THE patients in Europe rapidly grow in number, but who cares, right? More patents. MOAR and MOAR patents, everybody!

Patents are like food and medicine. If EPO staff dies in the process of granting them, so be it! It’s the cost of war. Nurses and doctors only treat patients, they don’t grant patents, do they?

When did a patent last save a life? No, not a drug with a patent on it but the patent itself…

“Let them eat patents!”As it turns out, neither Benoît Battistelli nor António Campinos ever cared to understand patents. Battistelli was only introduced to that domain some time in his fifties. Campinos used to do trademarks, but somehow he’s a patenting expert now (never mind if patent law and trademark law are inherently different). No wonder he’s advocating software patents in Europe even if European software developers say “No!” to such patents. Who cares… MOAR food! More patents. Let them eat patents!

“Campinos was apparently exploiting COVID-19 as an excuse for curtailing activity of staff representatives…”This kind of misguided attitude is what led to the collapse of quality and morale at the EPO. Examiners who are actually scientists (unlike Battistelli and Campinos) cannot stand the ignorance of their bosses, who surround themselves with old colleagues and friends rather than competent people.

Half a year ago the people who actually do all the work at the EPO (examiners, scientists) sought to alert their so-called ‘president’ (who was ‘elected’ by nepotism through his old friend and compatriot Battistelli) about a growing issue.

Campinos was apparently exploiting COVID-19 as an excuse for curtailing activity of staff representatives:

Campinos letter to CSC 2020, page 1

Campinos letter to CSC 2020, page 2

A week later a response was sent:


From: Joachim Michels On Behalf Of centralstcom
Sent: 28 April 2020 17:27
To: PRESIDENT <president@epo.org>

Subject: RE: Future means of communication for the Staff Committee and organisation of the Staff Committee election

Dear Mr President, dear António,

Thank you for your letter of 22 April 2020. We understand the concerns you express about the forthcoming elections of the Staff Committee under the current exceptional circumstances. Indeed, candidates and staff would ideally expect adequate campaign and election processes.

At this time a postponement would imply the extension of our mandate. We feel it is not within our remit to request such an extension beyond the term laid down in the Service Regulations.

Thank you for your kind understanding,

Joachim Michels
On behalf of all Staff Committees

The following polite (if not almost cordial) letter was sent:

Letter Campinos election

On the surface it may seem harmless and amicable, but privately the staff representatives (the Central Staff Committee) explained the ramifications as follows:

Forthcoming Staff Committee elections

Mr Campinos maintains the elections in June despite current pandemic

On 22 April, Mr Campinos wrote a letter to the CSC where he stated the following:
“In light of the above, please send me your position in writing by 28 April at latest, on whether you are in favour of holding the election in June, or if you prefer to request a postponement. If this written indication does not reach my secretariat by this date, please be aware that it will be understood you are in favour of holding the Staff Committee election in June 2020, as foreseen.”

The local and central Staff Committees replied to Mr Campinos by email on 28 April, stating: “At this time a postponement would imply the extension of our mandate. We feel it is not within our remit to request such an extension beyond the term laid down in the Service Regulations.”

The President sent another letter to the CSC on 30 April where he stated: “I would like to confirm that I have received your reply on 28 April. As you know, your reply did not request a postponement of the staff elections and it is therefore understood that you wish the elections to take place in June.”

We are strongly disappointed that Mr Campinos tries to present his own decision as being ours, and that he took his decision without consulting EPO staff. We recall that, before the “social democracy” framework was imposed on EPO Staff in 2014, it was the Electoral Committee composed exclusively of staff members directly elected by staff, which was in charge of organising the Staff Committee elections.

So here again we see a public health crisis being ‘weaponised’ against EPO staff. The ‘nice’ and ‘polite’ (ignore all the shouting) new President is proving to be no better than his predecessor.

EPO Staff Representatives Explain Why the Appeals Committee is Flawed and Transparency is Lacking

Posted in Europe, Patents at 1:42 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

António Campinos fair trial

Summary: The Administrative Tribunal of the International Labour Organisation (ILOAT) is still as toothless as ever, so workers are basically at the mercy of a dictator (António Campinos); EPO staff has been trying to correct this for a very long time and Joachim Michels (Chairman of the Central Staff Committee) explained one year after Campinos had joined the Office that “independent committees who play an important role in the Office, namely the Appeals Committee (ApC) and the Disciplinary Committee (DC), the same level of transparency does not currently apply.”

SIX months ago the Central Staff Committee of the EPO released a chain of letters/correspondence about the “functioning of the ApC” (Appeals Committee), taking note of several issues that persist since the Benoît Battistelli era. Of course, as usual, António Campinos does nothing to address such issues. He is to Battistelli what Fanta was to Cola.

Here’s an introduction to the chain of letters:

Letter to the President indicating five key elements for the Appeals Committee

The proper functioning of the Appeals Committee (ApC) has been a recurring topic in discussions with the President, both orally and in writing. Among others we have insisted to be involved in the “Appointment of the Chair and two Vice-Chairs of the ApC” (see our letter of 31 January and our reminder of 3 April 2020 ) to be made before 5 October 2020. However, until now we have not received any real commitment from the President.

In his recent letter of 22 April 2020, the President refers once again only to his commitment to keep us informed on the round of appointments in 2020 (see his letter of 12 November in reply to our request letter of 24 July 2019 on “Transparency in duty allowances and appointing procedures for the ApC”). He mentions then further the necessity of discussions with all stakeholders to improve the functioning of the ApC before submitting proposals to the Administrative Council.
To this end, we listed five key elements for the neutrality and good functioning of the ApC:

  • The nominations of the Chair and the Vice-Chairs of the ApC should be based on mutual agreement between the President and the Central Staff Committee and should respect diversity;

  • All staff members should be eligible to function as members of the ApC;

  • The independence of the members should be protected by the Service Regulations;

  • The procedure before the ApC should be guided at all stages by the principles of fairness and equal treatment. Proper fact finding and the right to be heard are mandatory principles, in line with the case law of the Tribunal;

  • Members of the ApC should be given enough time in order to perform their duties properly.

We informed the President that we are ready to embark immediately into discussions in a small working group and nominated our representatives.

We look forward to being invited soon to a kick-off meeting.

We’ve decided that now, after 6 months, it would be worthwhile reproducing those letters as HTML rather than plain text/images (where OCR/text isn’t available).

Here’s the correspondence from January (sent to Campinos):

Reference: sc20015cl-0.3.1/5.2
Date: 31.01.2020

European Patent Office | 80298 MUNICH | GERMANY
Mr António Campinos
President of the EPO

ISAR – R.1081

Appointment of the chair and two vice-chairs of the Internal Appeals Committee pursuant to Article 111(2) ServRegs

Dear Mr. President,

You will appoint the chair and two vice-chairs of the Internal Appeals Committee before 5 October 2020. The Administrative Council will also make appointments for their Appeals Committee pursuant to Article 111(1) of the Service Regulations.

The CSC is convinced that the good functioning of the Appeals Committee is of particular importance in order to ensure social peace and legal certainty in the Office and to avoid further litigation before the Administrative Tribunal of the International Labour Organisation. This requires that staff must trust and accept the proceedings and the opinions delivered by the Appeals Committee. This is why the persons whom you will appoint will have a very important role to play.

The CSC is willing to play its part constructively and therefore asks for participation in the forthcoming selection of the chair and vice-chairs. In view of the time remaining, the CSC would very much welcome an early start of the selection process and in particular an early publication of the vacancy notices for the positions of chair and vice-chairs.

Yours sincerely,

Joachim Michels

Chairman of the Central Staff Committee

Annex.: Letter to Mr J. Kratochvíl, Chairman of the Administrative Council

And the annexed letter to the person who is supposed (in theory) to oversee Campinos:

Date: 31.01.2020

European Patent Office | 80298 MUNICH | GERMANY

Chairman Administrative Council
Mr Josef Kratochvíl

Room – R. 1041

Appointment of the chair and two vice-chairs of the Appeals Committee pursuant to Article 111(1) ServRegs

Dear Mr Kratochvíl,

The appointment of the chair and two vice-chairs of the Appeals Committee pursuant to Article 111(1) ServRegs dealing with appeals against decisions taken by the Administrative Council must be made by 5 October at the latest.

The President of the Office will also have to make appointments pursuant to Article 111(2) ServRegs. We have informed him of our willingness to play a constructive role in the selection process (see attachment) because we consider the involvement of the Staff Committee in the selection of chairpersons to be highly desirable in order to ensure a high level of acceptance of the appeals system by staff.

We would very much welcome the earliest possible start of the selection procedure, in particular the early publication of the vacancy notices. We hope to receive positive notification and we thank you for your kind consideration.

Yours sincerely,

Chairman of the Central Staff Committee

Annex.: letter to Mr A. Campinos; President of the EPO

That was a month or two before Europe was overrun by COVID-19 and the European Patent Office shut its doors. Campinos had to be remined yet again to bother replying (instead of shouting at people who actually care about the institution and have worked in this institution more than 10 times longer than he has):

Reference: sc20057cl – 0.3.1/5.2
Date: 03.04.2020

European Patent Office | 80298 MUNICH | GERMANY

Mr António Campinos
President of the EPO

ISAR – Room 1081

Appointment of the chair and two vice-chairs of the Appeals Committee pursuant to Article 111(2) ServRegs (gentle reminder)

Dear Mr President, dear António,

Two months ago, the Central Staff Committee addressed a letter (see attachment) to you concerning the appointments of the chair and two vice-chairs of the Appeals Committee. These appointments should be made before 5 October 2020. The selection procedure should therefore take place as soon as possible. We then briefly discussed this issue with you in our face-to-face meeting on 13 February 2020. In that meeting you stated that you would come back to us soon regarding the appointments. Further discussions took place in the GCC meeting on 2 March 2020.

However, as of today we have still not received a response to our request to participate in the forthcoming selection of the chair and vice-chairs. We are therefore now reiterating our request with the hope that we can resolve this matter soon.

We understand that during the current pandemic holding interviews will be rather difficult. Still, we believe that early publication of the vacancy notices for the positions of chair and vice-chairs is appropriate as that will attract a larger pool of suitable candidates. We also believe that our involvement at the beginning of the appointment process would be appropriate, so that issues such as gender equality can be discussed before the vacancy notices are published. By us playing a constructive role in the selection process the level of confidence that staff has in the internal appeals procedure will also be improved.

Sincerely yours,

Joachim Michels
Chairman of the Central Staff Committee

CSC letter of 31 January 2020 (sc20015cl)

This stonewalling or snubbing is surprisingly similar to what we got accustomed to in the days of Battistelli and chinchillas slaughterer Kongstad. They just don’t bother replying to whatever makes them uncomfortable. What kind of leadership is that?

Almost 3 months later, after repeated nags, Campinos finally bothered replying as follows:

Mr Joachim Michels
Chairman of the Central Staff Committee
By email: centralSTCOM@epo.org

Your letter dated 3 April 2020

Dear Mr Chair,

I thank you for your letter dated 3 April 2020 regarding the appointment of the Chair and two Vice-Chairs of the Appeals Committee pursuant to Article 111 (2) ServRegs.

In my letter of 12 November 2019, I already committed to keep you informed about the upcoming round of appointments in 2020 and to provide the CSC updates on the selection procedure, including advance information on the names of the considered appointees prior to public announcement.

As announced in the meantime, the Office is also exploring the possibility of extending the pool of potential appointees to the Appeals Committee. This question, together with further ways to improve the functioning of the Appeals Committee (such as adequate safeguards related notably to conflict of interest, rules of replacement, possible rotation policy, creation of 4th chamber, gender diversity, etc.) needs to be analysed thoroughly and discussed with the different stakeholders before proposals are submitted to the Administrative Council.

Unfortunately, as you have rightly mentioned, due to the current situation that we are facing with the Coronavirus, the feedback expected from the Chair and Vice-Chairs on these elements take more time than initially expected. I will, of course, inform you once I have more information and would in any event welcome that we discuss the topic during our upcoming meeting.

Yours sincerely,

Antonio Campinos

It’s not entirely clear how an issue from January ended up being cast in light of “Coronavirus” and something about “gender diversity, etc.” (as if the staff’s interest is to be conflated with those other non-professional aspects).

Either way, previously it took him four months to respond. Here’s the July 2019 letter from staff:

Reference: sc19100cl -0.3.1/1.3.1
Date: 24.07.2019

European Patent Office | 80298 MUNICH | GERMANY

Mr António Campinos
President of the EPO
ISAR – Room 1081

Transparency of duty allowances and appointing procedures

Dear Mr President,

Independence requires accountability, and accountability requires transparency. Transparency therefore makes a claim of independence more credible. This is why your joint May 2019 submission to the Budget and Finance Committee (BFC) on the “Workload of the Board of Auditors and related duty allowance” (CA/F 8/19) was much appreciated by the Central Staff Committee (CSC).

In this document you provided details of the workload and paid duty allowance of the members of the Board of Auditors, emphasising both the importance of their tasks as well as their independent status. The BFC endorsed your recommendation that this important document be publicly available.

However, for other independent committees who play an important role in the Office, namely the Appeals Committee (ApC) and the Disciplinary Committee (DC), the same level of transparency does not currently apply. Indeed, the duty allowances of the Chair and Vice-Chairs of the ApC and DC are not yet clearly defined in the Service Regulations.

As the independence of these committees is of utmost importance, the CSC hereby requests that said duty allowances also be a matter of public record.

The CSC is furthermore of the opinion that a redesign of the appointment process for the Chairs, Alternate Chairs and Vice-Chairs of the ApC and DC is needed, so that the appointments are made with the assent of the CSC.

We remain at your disposal for further discussion of this important topic.

Sincerely yours,

Joachim Michels
Chairman of the Central Staff Committee

It wasn’t until winter that Campinos bothered replying to this summer letter as follows:

Mr Joachim Michels
Chairman Central Staff Committee

Dear Mr Chair,

Reference is made to your letter dated 24 July 2019 in which you expressed requests concerning the duty allowances and appointing procedures of the Chairs, Alternate Chair and Vice-Chairs of the Appeals Committee and Disciplinary Committee.

First, I am glad to inform you that, in accordance with your first request and as jointly agreed with the Chairs, Alternate Chair and Vice-Chairs of both Committees, the rates of duty allowances of the latter will be made public. Hence, said rates will be subject to a publication on the intranet page dedicated to Social Dialogue in the upcoming days.

I have also taken note of your request to “redesign” the procedures of appointment of the Chairs, Vice-Chairs and Alternate Chair. I would however like to emphasise that the current external Chairs have been appointed in accordance with the applicable provisions as recently adopted by the Administrative Council in June 2017. Nonetheless, in the spirit of openness and co-operation, I propose to keep you informed throughout the process with regard to the next round of appointments in 2020. The CSC will thus receive updates on the selection procedure, including advance information on the names of the considered appointees prior to public announcement.

I am confident that this will address your concerns.

Yours sincerely,

Antonio Campinos

And finally, here’s the letter tying together the above and raising concerns about the process, almost a year later:

Date: 07.05.2020

European Patent Office | 80298 MUNICH | GERMANY

Mr António Campinos
President of the EPO

ISAR – R.1081

Appeals Committee – Your letter of 22 April 2020

Dear Mr President,

The functioning of the Appeals Committee (ApC) has been a recurring topic in our discussions, both orally and in writing. In your recent letter of 22 April 2020, you mentioned the necessity of discussions with all stakeholders before submitting proposals to the Administrative Council. We share the opinion that a discussion with the Central Staff Committee is both necessary and urgent.

We would like to re-iterate our understanding of the role of the ApC. While fully supporting the idea of a change of culture from litigation to dialogue in the EPO, we believe that a properly functioning ApC is indispensable for the smooth running of the Office and – as confirmed by the ILOAT – an important element of the judicial system as a whole. Properly functioning means that the ApC can deliver opinions in short time and in a neutral manner.

The opinions should reflect basic principles of law and the case law of the Tribunal. Well-founded and clearly elaborated opinions allow the President to make decisions following the (unanimous) opinions of the ApC. This gives staff members confidence in the ApC. As a consequence, conflicts are more often than not solved internally and without subsequent escalation to the ILOAT. It is unfortunate that many appellants currently perceive the ApC as being just an intermediate step which is necessary before they can lodge a complaint in Geneva.

Five elements are key for the neutrality and good functioning of the ApC:

- The nominations of the Chair and the Vice-Chairs of the ApC should be based on mutual agreement between the President and the Central Staff Committee and should respect diversity;
- All staff members should be eligible to function as members of the ApC;
- The independence of the members should be protected by the Service Regulations;
- The procedure before the ApC should be guided at all stages by the principles of fairness and equal treatment. Proper fact finding and the right to be heard are mandatory principles, in line with the case law of the Tribunal;
- Members of the ApC should be given enough time in order to perform their duties properly.

The swift delivery of opinions can be achieved by adequate staffing of the Secretariat of the ApC.

We are ready to embark immediately into discussions with you. A small working group with motivated members from both sides would be appreciated. We therefore nominate Frédérique Chambonnet and Michael Sampels (alternate: Thomas Franchitti) from our side, and look forward to being invited by you soon to a kick-off meeting.

Yours sincerely,

Joachim Michels
Chairman of the Central Staff Committee

Ms Nellie Simon; Vice-President DG4
Mr Christoph Ernst; Vice-President DG5
Ms Karin Seegert; Chief of Staff

There are several noteworthy points other than procrastination and stonewalling. But we’ll come to them at a later stage when dealing with more recent letters/correspondence. Basically, there’s still no access to justice at the Office and it’s mostly about cover-up (covering up the abuses of management). ILOAT is still as toothless as ever, so workers are basically at the mercy of a dictator.

Inside the EPO During Corona: COVID-in-the-Head António Campinos Acts Like a Maniac and Starts Shouting at Meetings (Refusing to Listen to Anybody or Accept Reality)

Posted in Europe, Patents at 12:35 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Jorge Campinos and António CampinosBad boy, António. Very bad boy.

Summary: Jorge Campinos fought what he called dictatorship — the very thing that his son António is nowadays doing in Europe’s second-largest institution (run like a monarchy uncaring about the law and the safety of its ‘peasants’)

THE EPO‘s Staff Representation (SR) quickly found out that António Campinos is just another Benoît Battistelli (including temper tantrums and shouting, read the details below), parroting a bunch of meaningless junk like “social dialogue” or “democracy” while stubbornly persisting with monologues, autocracy, and endless lies. The lying is rather shameless; it’s not accidental dishonesty but malicious propaganda intended to oppress staff, mislead the media, pacify politicians and give patent stakeholders a really bad service.

Half a year ago when people were ‘locked up’ in their homes the Staff Representatives (SRs) wrote: “The President claims himself to be the main interlocutor in social dialogue. Two hours once every few month is simply not enough. Items on the agenda were cut short and mainly used to present the position of Management.”

Here’s the statement in full.

Social dialogue is not we agree to disagree leading to no real agreements

Mr Campinos had invited us to a two-hour meeting by video conference. Meetings with the President are always a little tense, as there is no equality of arms in the social dialogue.

The President claims himself to be the main interlocutor in social dialogue. Two hours once every few month is simply not enough. Items on the agenda were cut short and mainly used to present the position of Management. As you might imagine no real tangible results or compromises e.g. on the new Salary Adjustment Procedure can be reported.

Items on the agenda:
1. Social agenda
2. Covid-19: “Take care of your health” vs “Take care of your production”
3. Financial bundle and salary adjustment method
4. Rewards and catching up mechanism
5. Staff Committee elections and ApC situation

Here’s the corresponding report from that ‘meeting’ (basically webchat on Microsoft’s (US) network, as data protection laws are disregarded with impunity):

Munich, 29.04.2020
sc20075cp – 02.1/4.2.2/4.3

Report on the meeting of the Central Staff Committee (CSC) with the President on 23 April 2020

Setting the scene

Mr Campinos had invited the CSC and the LSC chairs to a two-hour meeting by video conference. We all have experience with Skype meetings by now. For reducing the bandwidth used, most cameras were switched off, thereby cutting out body language and making the exchange already cumbersome by design. Meetings with the President are always a little tense, as there is no equality of arms in the social dialogue. This time the atmosphere was very charged, which we attributed to the pandemic working on everybody’s nerves by now.

1. Social agenda

The CSC reminded Mr Campinos of the call for strike of 8 November 2019 which sent the clear signal that staff expects a change in policies. Two years into his mandate and after numerous reminders and pleas, Mr Campinos still refuses to address the three remaining cases of abusive and politically motivated sanctions of staff representatives and Union officials by his predecessor. Aurélien Pétiaud and Michael Lund were nominated by the CSC into the quasi-judicial body of the Appeals Committee. The President uses res judicata as reason for not acting in these two cases, whilst on other issues such as the education allowance he does exercise discretion and deviates from judgments.

There has been little dialogue on the respective – or hopefully even mutual – priorities in the social agenda. Our request for putting staff health at the top of the priorities list has not been honoured. The career system is still not repaired, the production pressure is maintained and continues to lower quality. The working conditions of staff employed after 2009 still need to be improved whilst a further deterioration of the working conditions (salary adjustment method and education allowance) is being pursued despite the on-going Covid-19 pandemic.

In meetings Mr Campinos can be emotional. This meeting was no exception, only that he overdid it by interrupting our interventions, shouting and complaining that we only express dissatisfaction and never acknowledge his positive steps. With the continuation of the meeting at risk under those conditions, we requested a timeout. Thereafter the meeting continued.

2. Covid-19: “Take care of your health” vs “Take care of your production”

The CSC once again requested that Mr Campinos stops denying the impact of Covid-19 on the operation of the EPO, its production and services. Staff should neither be held responsible nor asked to compensate for these unavoidable effects. To that end, we asked for

i) adjusting the production target downwards by at least 10% from what was originally
ii) 40 hours of time deduction for parents of young children,
iii) a reduction in individual targets in production and productivity,
iv) special leave for families (as parental leave is meant to cover school holidays, not force majeure long-term school closures and certainly not to compensate for pandemic-induced production loss), and
v) an unconditional carry-over of leave of 2020 to next year.

For Mr Campinos adapting objectives was out of the question and he claimed to have already reduced production over the past two years. We countered that productivity requirements and therefore the pressure on staff had increased as recruitment failed to compensate for staff departures. Mr Rowan (VP1) attempted to assure us that each individual situation would be taken into account when assessing performance and that health should be a priority. In his view, Line Managers should not exert pressure on staff and, if observed, it should be reported directly to him. Ms Simon (VP4) expressed her disappointment that the possibility to now take parental leave also on a daily basis was
not considered sufficient.

Mr Campinos promised to study our other proposals.

Ms De Greiff (H&S) posited that in its dealing with the pandemic, the EPOrg was perceived as a model amongst International Organisations. We requested that this benchmark be provided to us. When benchmarking it is worthy of note that the EPO still has the worst competition based career system, fostering harsh behaviour in line management which in turn detrimentally affects staff health. Team Managers were seen pushing parents to work during evenings and weekend, and the extra day-off of 22 May might well be used by those to compensate for production losses. For parents and staff members in the high risk group, we requested specific operational measures, including the possibility for other staff, who do not need that day, to transfer it to those who need it most. We also pointed out the inconsistencies in the communication of management pretending unity with the campaign “Strong Together” (on Covid-19) while at the same time letting Directorate Employment Law in the Intranet celebrate its success against staff in front of ILOAT.

Ms Seegert stopped our intervention there, claiming that it would not lead anywhere. We therefore could not address how the special situation of Covid-19 could be taken into account in incompetence procedures and probation periods.

3. Financial bundle and salary adjustment method

For the June meeting of the Administrative Council Mr Campinos still intends to table a bundle of financial measures based on the flawed Financial Study from Oliver Wyman & Mercer. We explained our expectation that the administration would abandon or at least postpone the introduction of further reforms that will have a negative impact on staff working conditions during a pandemic. The current proposal foresees a severe cut in purchasing power for staff and pensioners. His previous promises no longer hold true.

Implementation was to be gradual (with not everything needing to be done at once), reversibility is not foreseen and all his talk on proportionality, fairness or shared effort fell by the wayside with the biggest burden being placed on staff. His latest financial measure of moving the date of the application of any salary adjustment half a year back without any pensionable compensation but only a lump-sum all goes on the staff’s account, too.

On this topic Mr Campinos again lost his contenance when he shouted that in the outside world people are currently losing their jobs and we should feel lucky if the Administrative Council accepted the proposed changes as they stand.

But reducing production pressure in challenging pandemic-times is nothing he will consider. The desire to save money obviously always has to be satisfied at the expense of staff and it will never be enough.

4. Rewards and catching up mechanism

Given the lack of progress on the former items, our expectations were low on that one and we were not disappointed.

Yes, Mr Campinos intends to slightly increase the budget for rewards thereby slightly raising the chances in the annual reward-lottery.

But it remains a fundamentally flawed career system, aggravated by flawed implementation each year and the fact that it relies on arbitrariness. It requires a radical new design, aligned with EU staff regulation, which provide for regular step advancements.

We reiterated the claim for transitional measures from the previous to the NCS (step advancement in grade were guaranteed) as well as retroactive correction backdated to the introduction of the NCS.

The administration intends to resurrect the Working Group on Performance Management (WGPM) as the appropriate panel for discussing such mechanisms. And a meeting was announced for May in which the issue of PhD-recognition for calculation of experience upon recruitment will apparently be discussed.

5. Staff Committee elections and ApC situation

The night before the meeting management had sent two letters on these topics, indicating some scope for discussion, but at the end of the meeting there was little time to raise these. After a first cursory read we appreciate management’s readiness to discuss the possibility of appointing also non-elected members to the Appeals Committee (ApC), which is a long-standing claim of ours.

Your Staff Representation

Of note: “Mr Campinos [was] shouting and complaining [...] lost his contenance when he shouted…”

“…it’s not accidental dishonesty but malicious propaganda intended to oppress staff, mislead the media, pacify politicians and give patent stakeholders a really bad service.”Yeah, and the Council kept reassuring us that this man was unlike Battistelli. This isn’t the first time he’s reported to have temper issues. The EPO is run by psychopaths who are compensated far too much (for their skill level; MBA is similarly overrated) to front for oligarchs and multinational corporations while they bully people a lot smarter, more competent and experienced than themselves.

Someone should remind Mr. Campinos that examiners aren’t just ordinary people from the streets trained at stocking shelves (not that there’s anything wrong with such jobs); maybe he lies to himself about being ‘charitable’ for employing people with Ph.D.-level education (often experts in their scientific field). They can speak about more than meaningless buzzwords like “Hey Hi” (AI) and “innovation”…

Inside the EPO During Corona: Letter to Stephen Rowan About EPO Management Exploiting the Pandemic to Demand Harder Work (Instead of Loosening and Lowering Expectations/Workload)

Posted in Europe, Law, Patents at 11:51 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Examiners stranded with children (sometimes babies/toddlers) at home are expected to act as though it’s “business as usual”

Face of baby/toddler

Summary: The EPO’s management is plundering or taking away very basic rights of labourers, capitalising on a crisis that drives many businesses underground to pretend/act as though it’s “business as usual” and set expectations accordingly

SOME days ago we wrote about how EPO management illegally used leave quotas to basically force people to never rest from work, even inside their own homes where they’re spied on by António Campinos and his American surveillance partners (whom he gives EPO money to help with all the spying). Even Benoît Battistelli didn’t go that far, albeit he took away from staff lots of public holidays.

“The EPO is a rogue institution, looking to not only lay off many examiners; their salaries too (as noted as recently as days ago) are being cut at a time of growing inflation.”The following letter is half a year old and it’s likely old enough to be put in the public domain without any consequences (for anyone in a sensitive position). Notice the parts we’ve highlighted below:

Reference: sc20074cl – 0.3.1/1.3.3
Date: 27.04.2020

European Patent Office | 80298 MUNICH | GERMANY
Mr Stephen Rowan
Vice-President DG1

Room 211 Isar

Production pressure in time of pandemic

Dear Mr Rowan,

We appreciate your repeated words of empathy and your acknowledgement that this is not business as usual.

We also believe that, in this moment, the health of staff, their families and the society around us is more important than ever.

This is why we want to draw your attention to the situation of many colleagues. As we are a large, diverse organisation the circumstances our colleagues find themselves in vary, and at this time some are suffering more than others. Some colleagues are coping well with work, others not. Many colleagues have children at home, some are completely isolated from family and friends. Others have elderly parents in badly-affected countries. Some colleagues are extremely worried because they have health problems or are older. For these colleagues it is far from easy to keep working normally.

Although nice words are appreciated, they mean nothing if not backed up by concrete actions. Please do not forget that, even before the pandemic, staff members in DG1 have been coping with enormous pressure. We are therefore afraid that any extra stress at this troubling time might be enough to start to endanger their health.

Our staff members deserve, more than ever, that the Office shares the effort and the consequences of this crisis.

On 23 April 2020, in our meeting with the President, when we raised our concerns on this topic, you reassured us that “…on production I have been very clear – this is a best effort [situation]…. production is not the main issue…”.

Unfortunately, our colleagues in DG1 do not seem to have received this message.
Since the crisis began production targets have not been revised at any level, and staff members have been encouraged to use their own leave to compensate for production loss.

We therefore now ask you to reassure them by announcing, explicitly, that they will not be personally blamed for any loss in production due to this pandemic. We ask you to encourage staff to focus less on production targets that, and simply do what they are able to do given the situation. We also ask you to assure staff that this year’s targets will be revised to take into account the extraordinary circumstances.

We also ask you to instruct your Directors and Team Leaders to refrain from pressurising their Examiners to achieve targets that were set before this pandemic occurred.

We are convinced that such a statement will not only help our colleagues but also management, by clarifying exactly what your position is.

Yours sincerely,

Joachim Michels
Chairman of the Central Staff Committee

Readers can guess what happened next. Just about nothing. The EPO doesn’t care about its workforce. It doesn’t value examiners. It might as well just grant millions of ludicrous, bogus, worthless, illegitimate patents. The examiners are an obstruction to it; and the more time they’re given to work on applications/searches, the more likely they are to torpedo a so-called ‘product’.

The EPO is a rogue institution, looking to not only lay off many examiners; their salaries too (as noted as recently as days ago) are being cut at a time of growing inflation. This is contrary to international standards and law. But EPO management is unaccountable, unanswerable, and basically above the law.

Nobody Was Ever Punished for Bullying Laurent Prunier (Bergot and Others Kept Their EPO Jobs and They Continue to Oppress and Silence Staff Representatives)

Posted in Europe, Patents at 11:18 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Ever wondered why so little is reported in the media? Look at internal documents, only to find there’s a suppression campaign worse and more draconian than Battistelli’s.

Laurent Prunier (EPO) talking about the scandal at the EPO with Suzette Saint-Marc (Council of Europe)
EPO ‘soft power’ is killing people ‘softly’

Summary: Europe’s most autocratic institution, the EPO, is still muzzling its staff; Mr. Prunier (above) may have reached a settlement after years of unjust suffering, but that settlement does not correct or serve to eliminate the broader pattern, which prevents staff from reporting corruption and other serious abuses

THE Staff Union of the European Patent Office (SUEPO) is a lot more competent — professionally speaking — than EPO management. The former are scientists, the latter is just a bunch of buddies who loot the organisation and don’t even know how to run it. Few of them even understand patents. They just look at the EPO as little but a financial instrument through which to enrich themselves and give themselves an ego boost.

IsolationBack in May we wrote about the settlement with Laurent Prunier (later we'd bemoan lack of media coverage about this). Others had beaten us to it and SUEPO circulated a number of publications/updates. “The ordeal is finally over,” it said, but so was Mr. Prunier’s EPO career. After what he had gone through he no longer wanted to be at the Office. And seeing how bad things still are at the Office, who can blame him? This isn’t the patent office he originally joined. Not anymore…

Now, 6 months down the line, we’d like to put in the public record documents related to this settlement. We wrote about Mr. Prunier more than half a dozen times. Benoît Battistelli smeared him in IAM and elsewhere, so Mr. Prunier is quite courageous, taking on this “Mafia” and the Mafia’s media partners (which is what IAM is).

First of all, here is the announcement from SUEPO:

28 April 2020

Dear SUEPO Members,
Dear colleagues,

As you remember, numerous union officials and staff representatives were harshly targeted under Mr Battistelli’s tenure. Following the mandate received from the Administrative Council, Mr Campinos has taken steps to provide relief to these colleagues.

The latest in the series is Laurent Prunier, former Secretary of SUEPO The Hague and elected member of the Central Staff Committee, who was dismissed in 2016. He has just informed us that an amicable settlement was finally reached with the Office. We are not privy to the settlement details, since strict confidentiality regulates it.

Laurent wholeheartedly thanks all of you who supported him. Without your solidarity, he would never have been able to keep afloat. You can now stop your donations.

The ordeal, which has lasted more than 3 years, has severely impacted Laurent’s life and health. In light of this impact, and in spite of having been a truly committed and valuable EPO colleague, Laurent chose not to return to the Office to be able to properly recover. We sincerely hope he will be able to heal his trauma and rebuild a new future. We wish him the very best.

We take this opportunity to recall that two former Staff Committee experts remain abusively sanctioned: Aurélien Pétiaud in Munich and Michael Lund (now on pension) in The Hague. We hope that the President will finally provide relief to them, too. An amnesty is, as Dr Bausch reminded the IP community in one of his blogposts on Kluwer Patent Blog1, well within his discretionary power.


1 Es gibt nichts Gutes. Außer man tut es

“Regrettably,” SUEPO added (alluding to the likes of Bergot), “the managers that were instrumental in this witch hunt are still working at the EPO – unpunished and continuing as if nothing ever happened. The President will need to undertake several more actions if he ever wants to start to restore trust in the administration, and taking a careful look at his advisers – still the same team as under Battistelli’s tenure – is an urgently needed first step.”

The settlement documents (original) are all in German, but Mr. Prunier issued the following letter in English.

Laurent Prunier letter

“Laurent’s ordeal, which has lasted for more than 3 years, is over,” SUEPO wrote. But health isn’t coming back; those take a great toll on one’s mental and physical health, so recovery can only ever be partial. I’ve known people to whom such things happened; the chilling, strong impact of the experience or the shock has a long-lasting cost. Nobody was ever punished for all the unwarranted bollocking against Laurent and his colleagues. Nobody.

Links 15/11/2020: The LibreOffice Calc Guide 7.0 and PinePhone KDE Community Edition

Posted in News Roundup at 10:05 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

  • GNU/Linux

    • Desktop/Laptop

      • Linux vs. macOS: 15 Key Differences You Need to Know

        The tug of war between Linux and macOS continues to go through the test of time. The internet meme world concludes their major differences in the usual humorous manner. In their opinion, macOS is for the rich, and Linux is for the skilled. If we add the Windows operating system to this debate, then patience as an attribute would also be a highlight of discussion. However, no operating system is perfect, but there is a perfect being for each operating system.

        The individual superiority in both Linux and macOS comes at a cost. This article is here to shed some light on the matter and, at the same time, remove the skeletons hiding in the two OS’s closets.

        Linux vs. macOS

        Since we are here to neither shame Linux nor macOS, we will look at the preference each operating system brings to the table when comparatively analyzed. However, the preferences might favor one operating system over the other. The final verdict will be in regards to performance flexibility and stability. It’s time to roll the dice on the first comparative topic.

    • Audiocasts/Shows

      • New KDE Plasma Theme In 5.21, GNOME Extensions Rebooted, GIMP 2.99.2 | This Week in Linux 125 – TuxDigital

        On this episode of This Week in Linux, we’ve got a bunch of new releases from a variety of projects. We’re also going to be looking into the future with my magic crystal ball to discuss what is coming in the next versions of GIMP, GNOME and KDE Plasma . . . and by Crystal Ball I mean the projects issued roadmaps on their blogs. We’ve got a couple distro releases to discuss with Feren OS, Clonezilla, and a new offering from the Proxmox team. Then we’ll discuss a Call For Help issued by the FSF to update their high priority list. All that and much more coming up right now on Your Weekly Source for Linux GNews!

      • The Top Five Linux Distros Of 2020 – YouTube

        In 2020, I took a look at many Linux distributions. Some of them really impressed me. So as the year nears the end, what are my “Top Five” distros for 2020? The answers may surprise you.

    • Kernel Space

      • A Specification Is Being Discussed For Passing Firmware/Bootloader Logs To The OS – Phoronix

        Stemming from a GRUB bootloader inquiry and discussion that started over one year ago, a new specification is being proposed for possible adoption by the Linux kernel in being able to pass bootloader or system firmware logs to the operating system kernel for in turn exposing them to user-space.

        An Akamai engineer inquired over a year ago to the GRUB development community about being able to debug remote hardware without a KVM. The desire arose for being able to read GRUB bootloader messages from within the running Linux environment. After discussing among GRUB developers and an early specification they began debating earlier this year, Oracle’s Daniel Kiper has taken to the Linux kernel mailing list to gauge upstream kernel interest in such a specification and ultimately supporting it.

        The goal would be to allow the OS kernel to either process such firmware/boot logs and where relevant to expose them to user-space. The specification is designed to be platform agnostic and self-contained.

    • Applications

      • 4 Best Free and Open Source Linux FTP Servers

        File Transfer Protocol (FTP) is a time-honored method of transferring files to and from a remote network site. FTP is built on a client-server architecture and uses separate control and data connections between the client and server applications. The FTP client connects to the FTP server, and enables the user to send and retrieves files from that server.

        FTP is one of many different file transfer protocols that are used. Other examples include the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP), BitTorrent, the SSH File Transfer Protocol (SFTP), and Secure Copy (SCP).

        In recent years, FTP’s popularity for general downloading files has declined. Linux distributions and software are now often downloaded by using direct downloads using a web browser, by BitTorrent, metalink, or by using a download utility. FTP is often tucked away as a download option even if it is available. While FTP can cause bandwidth problems it nevertheless remains a great way of moving large files.

        The downside to using FTP is that it doesn’t necessarily take internet security risks into account. SFTP, the more advanced version of the same technology, enables you to manage files on your server just like FTP does. However, it uses a previously-established Secure Shell (SSH) connection to maintain the safety of your files and the site as a whole.

        An FTP server is a software application which enables the transfer of files from one computer to another. Here’s our recommendations.

    • Instructionals/Technical

      • Decrypting OpenSSH sessions for fun and profit

        A while ago we had a forensics case in which a Linux server was compromised and a modified OpenSSH binary was loaded into the memory of a webserver. The modified OpenSSH binary was used as a backdoor to the system for the attackers. The customer had pcaps and a hypervisor snapshot of the system on the moment it was compromised. We started wondering if it was possible to decrypt the SSH session and gain knowledge of it by recovering key material from the memory snapshot. In this blogpost I will cover the research I have done into OpenSSH and release some tools to dump OpenSSH session keys from memory and decrypt and parse sessions in combinarion with pcaps. I have also submitted my research to the 2020 Volatility framework plugin contest.

      • Zero-Touch Provisioning for Juniper ⁕ Vincent Bernat

        Juniper’s official documentation on ZTP explains how to configure the ISC DHCP Server to automatically upgrade and configure on first boot a Juniper device. However, the proposed configuration could be a bit more elegant. This note explains how.

      • Using Buypass card readers in Linux

        If you want to know the result of your corona test in Norway (or really, any other health information), you’ll need to either get an electronic ID with a confidential spec where your bank holds the secret key, can use it towards other banks with no oversight, and allows whoever has that key to take up huge loans and other binding agreements in your name in a matter of minutes (also known as “BankID”)… or you can get a smart card from Buypass, where you hold the private key yourself.

      • The LibreOffice Calc Guide 7.0 Just Arrived! – The Document Foundation Blog

        The LibreOffice Documentation Team is happy to announce the availability of the LibreOffice Calc Guide 7.0, the most comprehensive guide for the Calc module, updated to the latest version of LibreOffice.

        The Guide is available in PDF format and contains 545 pages, covering all basic and advanced features of the spreadsheet module of LibreOffice, and is a must-read book for exploiting the maximum of LibreOffice Calc.

      • 15 Ways to Use the Linux Watch Command for Everyday Activities

        The Linux watch command provides a useful means of executing commands periodically. Many system admins use this simple tool to get live feedback from frequently used Linux terminal commands. Moreover, it also allows us to locate changes in command outputs in real-time. In this guide, we have discussed the various use cases of the watch utility and illustrate several useful usages of this tool for our readers. So, if you were looking for a way to run commands repeatedly, continue reading with us. You will learn to use one of the most useful yet often overlooked Linux commands.

      • Setting up graphical login into KDE Plasma via SDDM on CentOS 8.2
      • How To Install Cinnamon on Ubuntu 20.04 LTS – idroot

        In this tutorial, we will show you how to install Cinnamon on Ubuntu 20.04 LTS. For those of you who didn’t know, Cinnamon is a desktop environment like GNOME and It is a simple and clean desktop environment, looks similar to the Windows desktop. It’s usually deployed on the Linux Mint distribution.

        This article assumes you have at least basic knowledge of Linux, know how to use the shell, and most importantly, you host your site on your own VPS. The installation is quite simple and assumes you are running in the root account, if not you may need to add ‘sudo‘ to the commands to get root privileges. I will show you through the step by step installation of Cinnamon on Ubuntu 20.04 (Focal Fossa). You can follow the same instructions for Ubuntu 18.04, 16.04, and any other Debian based distribution like Linux Mint.

      • Show contents of all git objects in a git repo
    • Games

      • Go sight seeing in the American Truck Simulator – Colorado expansion out now | GamingOnLinux

        SCS Software continue to expand where we can go trucking with the American Truck Simulator – Colorado expansion out now and it looks like it has some good sights to see.

        This is probably one of the bigger DLCs that has been released, which includes tons of areas to drive through like the Million Dollar Highway. A rather special bit of road the stretches around 25 miles, often said to be one of the most beautiful drives in the states where you get views of mountains, valleys and gorges and more. For many of us stuck at home during the COVID19 pandemic, it sounds like something worth exploring.

      • Warhammer 40,000: Gladius – Craftworld Aeldari expansion is out now | GamingOnLinux

        Warhammer 40,000: Gladius – Craftworld Aeldari is the latest expansion to the first turn-based 4x strategy game in the Warhammer universe. As the name suggests, the Craftworld Aeldari expansion brings in another new race that you can control or fight again.

        “In the base game, the player could face the conquest and the exploration of Gladius with the heroic Space Marines, the brutal Orks, the brave Imperium and the relentless Necrons. With the additional DLCs, the player can lead the new factions such as the ravenous Tyranids, the corrupted Chaos Space Marines and the ambitious T’au. Now another faction join the fight with the swift and deadly Craftworld Aeldari, one of the most ancient races in the Warhammer 40,000 universe, having turned war into a fine art.”

      • Valve dev clarifies what some of their upcoming and recent Linux work is actually for | GamingOnLinux

        Valve are committed to Linux and Linux gaming with Steam, that much is currently clear. They’re working with so many contractors on various things, and it seems not everything is as people think.

        Recently, Collabora, one of the companies they’re contracting with went over a bunch of details like their upcoming Linix Kernel work coming to Linux 5.11 and then a quick overview of everything. Many people thought that a lot of the ongoing work, like the Kernel work was to help things like anti-cheat with Steam Play Proton and it was mentioned by Collabora however it seems that’s not exactly the case. Valve developer Pierre-Loup Griffais commented on Reddit to clear up on some speculation, mentioning that Collabora did some speculating of their own.

    • Desktop Environments/WMs

      • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

        • PinePhone KDE Community Edition Launches with Plasma Mobile UI, Convergence

          After PinePhone UBports Community Edition, PinePhone postmarketOS Community Edition, and PinePhone Manjaro Community Edition, here comes the PinePhone KDE Community Edition using the Plasma Mobile UI developed by the KDE Project.

          If you love the KDE Plasma desktop environment, you’ll adore the Plasma Mobile-powered PinePhone Linux phone, which promises to offer you the same underlying technologies `and apps that you’re already using on your personal computer.

        • PinePhone KDE Community Edition up for preorder in December

          The PinePhone is an inexpensive smartphone capable of running a variety of different Linux-based operating systems. But the folks at Pine64 have been partnering with developers to ship a series of Community Edition phones with a specific OS pre-installed, and a custom logo on the back of the phone.

          Pine64 had previously offered PinePhone UBports (Ubuntu Touch) and postmarketOS Community Edition phones, and the company is currently shipping PinePhone Manjaro Community Edition phones to customers.

          Up next? The PinePhone KDE Community Edition.


          The convergence dock is a USB-C hub that allows you to connect a display, ethernet cable, and usb accessories to the PinePhone and use it like a desktop computer.

        • KDE Announces PinePhone KDE Community Edition with Plasma Mobile

          The KDE project and Pine64 announce the availability of PinePhone KDE Community Edition with the Plasma Mobile operating system.

    • Distributions

      • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandriva/OpenMandriva Family

        • Calibre updated to 5.5.0 » PCLinuxOS

          Calibre is primarily a ebook cataloging program. It manages your ebook collection for you. It is designed around the concept of the logical book, i.e. a single entry in the database that may correspond to ebooks in several formats. It also supports conversion to and from a dozen different ebook formats.

        • Freetube updated to 0.9.2 » PCLinuxOS

          Freetube is a native youtube client for using youtube with privacy in mind.

      • IBM/Red Hat/Fedora

        • Fedora’s Qt-Based Media Writer Seeing Improvements

          Fedora Media Writer is the project’s cross-platform utility for deploying Fedora install images to USB drives in an easy-to-user manner and for selecting from the various Fedora spins. One of Red Hat’s engineers has recently been working on some modernization improvements to this Fedora image writer.

          While Fedora Workstation continues to be GNOME/GTK-focused, with macOS and Windows being supported alongside Linux for the Fedora Media Writer, it’s understandably written using a Qt5 interface for greater cross-platform compatibility. Jan Grulich of Red Hat has been working to modernize this C++ program since it has been relying on the deprecated Qt Quick Controls 1.

          Grulich has been working to move off the Qt Quick Controls 1 code to using Qt Quick Controls 2.

    • Devices/Embedded

    • Free, Libre, and Open Source Software

      • PANTS: a progressive web-based open-source nutrition ingredients and calories manager

        PriceAndNutritionTrackingSystem (PANTS for short) is an open-source web-based application and self-hosted built to help users track their nutrition with its composed tool for nutritional data analysis of ingredients and recipes.


        PANTS is released under Apache License 2.0, which guarantees the permissions to use it for commercial use, modification, distribution and more, with condition of license and copyright notice and state changes notification.

      • Web Browsers

        • Mozilla

          • Clippings for Thunderbird replacement: Quicktext – Chris Ilias

            I was a long time user of Clippings in Thunderbird. I used it for canned responses in the support newsgroups and more. Now that the Clippings is not being updated for Thunderbird 78, it’s time to look for a replacement.

            I found a great replacement, called Quicktext.

            With Quicktext, I create a TXT file for each response and put them in a designated directory. Quicktext has the option to paste from a TXT file or an HTML file. When composing a message, there are two buttons to the far-right above the text area.

          • TenFourFox Development: TenFourFox FPR29 available

            TenFourFox Feature Parity Release 29 final is now available for testing (downloads, hashes, release notes). There are no additional changes from the beta except for outstanding security patches. Locale langpacks will accompany this release and should be available simultaneously on or about Monday or Tuesday (November 17 or 18) parallel to mainline Firefox.

      • Programming/Development

  • Leftovers

    • The Tide is Turning: Change and the Coming of Maitreya

      For the issues of the day to be met and overcome a major shift in attitudes is needed, a change in consciousness allowing for the creative re-invention of civilization to take place. The current ‘way of life’ is largely unhealthy, for the individual and society, and has proved deadly for the natural environment. It is an unkind brutal construct based on ideologies that separate, setting one against the other, creating an atmosphere of fear and suspicion. Pleasure and desire are promoted as surrogates for natural happiness and love, competition and conformity insisted upon; it is an outdated construct that has no place within the positive movement of the times, which is well underway.

      The transition into the new is happening apace and as those forces obstructing change begin to be swept aside there is a sense that humanity is poised to turn a corner. Sharing, cooperation, tolerance, understanding, these are some of the keynotes of the time. Perennial principles held within the hearts of people throughout the world, and which, given the correct conditions will explode into life, sweeping aside all obstacles to freedom, justice and unity. But resistance is fierce, conditioning and attachment to the old ways, strong. And the issues are daunting, overwhelming.

    • Maupassant and America Today

      Any writer aspiring to be a literary artist must read and learn from de Maupassant. He was a master of economy of style, brisk pacing, even-tempered wit, deep insights into human psychology that remain entirely relevant to this day, and of devising imaginative plots with deliciously apt denouements (endings).

      He was superb at describing food, dining and cuisine, and also of sensory impressions like smells, with vividness. Also, he was a lyrical artist with his many passages describing natural settings: the sky at various times of the day and during various seasons, river environments, the woods, open hilly grasslands and plains, and weather day or night. The best equivalent I can recall in American literature is Mark Twain’s lyrical passage in “Huckleberry Finn,” on the early morning mists on the Mississippi River.

    • Health/Nutrition

    • Integrity/Availability

      • Proprietary

        • Security

          • Melbourne firm’s listing back on Windows REvil ransomware site

            Malicious attackers who used the Windows REvil ransomware to attack Nexia Australia and New Zealand, a network of solutions-focused accountancy and consultancy firms, have re-lsited the company on their dark web site, along with screenshots of data that has been allegedly filched during the attack.

          • Privacy/Surveillance

            • Commerce Department Remembers It Was Supposed To Ban TikTok; Says It Won’t Enforce For Now

              Yesterday we noted that TikTok had made a filing with the government asking what the fuck was going on with the supposed ban on their application that was supposed to go into effect this week. While a court had issued an injunction saying the Commerce Department couldn’t put the ban into effect, the Trump administration basically hadn’t said anything since then, and the ban was set to go into effect yesterday.

    • Defence/Aggression

    • Environment

    • Finance

    • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Censorship/Free Speech

      • Ep116: Project Censored with Andy Lee Roth – Along The Line Podcast
      • Content Moderation Case Study: GoFundMe Addresses Controversial Fundraising Efforts (2020)

        Summary: Shortly after protests began in Kenosha, Wisconsin over the killing of Jacob Blake by police officers, armed citizens began showing up ostensibly to protect businesses and homes from violent protesters. One of these citizens was Kyle Rittenhouse, an Illinois native who traveled to Kenosha as a self-appointed peacekeeping force.

      • ICE Briefly Becomes A Stranded Minor: Loses Its Twitter Account For Being Too Young

        Yesterday afternoon the Twitter account of the US’s Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) briefly disappeared from the internet. Was it… anti-conservative bias? Nope. Was it ICE doing more stupid shit in locking up children and separating them from their parents? Nope. Was it ICE’s willingness to seize domain names with no evidence, claiming “counterfeit”? Nope. It was that ICE had changed the “birthday” on its account to make it so that its “age” was less than 13. Thanks to the ridiculousness of the Child Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which has basically served only to have parents teach their kids it’s okay to lie online in order to use any internet service, most websites say you can’t use the service if you’re under 13 years old. ICE changed its “birthdate” to be less than 13, thereby making it… shall we say, something of a “stranded minor” and Twitter automatically, well, “separated it” from its account.

    • Civil Rights/Policing

      • Jurists Shocked by Justice Alito’s ‘Wildly Inappropriate’ Attack on LGBTQ Equality, Reproductive Rights, and More

        “How can litigants with claims on these issues now believe they can get a fair hearing from Alito?” wondered one legal reporter. 

      • Hologram Daddies and Posthumous Molestation

        Human beings can find it hard to part with their dead.  The departed and gathered are revisited, reconstituted and even repurposed.  In some particularly disturbing instances, their bodies are dug up again, subjected to trial, and punished.  Oliver Cromwell, responsible for the execution of the Stuart king Charles I in 1649, was exhumed and posthumously executed, along with several regicides, in 1661.  By then, the Sceptred Isle had been re-sceptred with the return of Charles I’s son.  In monarchical restoration, revenge was sought by disgruntled royalists.

        The famed diarist Samuel Pepys notes the wish to revisit these bodies of perpetration in an entry from December 4, 1660.  “This day the Parliament voted that the bodies of Oliver, [Henry] Ireton, [John] Bradshaw, &c., should be taken up out of their graves in [Westminster] Abbey, and drawn to the gallows, and there hanged and buried under it: which (methinks) do trouble me that a man of so great courage as he was, should have that dishonour, though otherwise he might deserve it enough.”

    • Monopolies

      • Patents

        • The plausibility battleground at the EPO

          Plausibility in the context of the inventive step and sufficiency requirements can be a contentious issue before the European Patent Office. Markus Grammel of Grünecker reports.

          The European Patent Office (EPO), as the central organ of the European patent system, rewards inventors or their legal successors for their technical contribution to art with patent monopolies, fostering and stimulating innovation.

          It is therefore a central pillar of the EPO’s practice to weed out purely speculative patents that do not make a technical contribution at the filing date.

          To assess whether an invention is purely speculative, the Boards of Appeal of the EPO have developed the doctrine of “plausibility” in the context of sufficiency of disclosure/enablement as well as inventive step/non-obviousness. Plausibility is also sometimes applied when considering industrial applicability.

        • How to protect a user interface with a patent

          Any features of a user interface that specify a mechanism to enable user input are usually considered to provide a technical effect. However, features that rely more on the subjective preferences of a user tend to be treated as non-technical.

          In a world where everything from your car to your fridge has a user interface, features can often be considered mundane and technically uninteresting. It’s the dismissal of these features by patent offices that can provide interesting guidance as to where the lines are between non-technical and technical user interface features.

          In the case T277/16 (Google), the question of patentability for an access method was considered and accepted as being technical. The concept, in short, was to control access by requiring less complex and less burdensome security rules in areas which are defined as ‘familiar’. Put simply, if a user was accessing a device at home, they could gain access using a shorter passcode than they would if they were accessing the device in a non-familiar area, such as a shopping centre.

        • Patent Rules amended again, major changes in fee structure for small enterprises; WIPO launches new patent information tool – WIPO INSPIRE and more

          On 4th November 2020, The EPO signed a ‘Reinforced Partnership agreement’ with the Superintendent of Industry and Commerce of Colombia with the objective of strengthening co-operation. According to the official notification on the EPO website, the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed by the President of EPO, António Campinos and Colombia’s Superintendent of Industry and Commerce, Andrés Barreto, during a virtual meeting. The MoU allows the Superintendence to use EPO’s products, tools and practices, for the next five years, when granting national patents. The EPO President said “This agreement will not only improve the quality and efficiency of handling patent applications, which is key as Colombia moves to strengthen its knowledge economy, but will also help align our patent systems to better support the global technology market.”

        • The cnipa-EPO pilot: a direct access to efficient and cost-effective patent prosecution in Europe for nationals and residents of p.R. China

          The CNIPA-EPO pilot will start on December 1st 2020 and will allow nationals and residents of P.R. China new strategic options as well as substantive cost reductions.

          Starting on December 1st 2020, and for a period of two years at least, nationals and residents of P.R. China will be able to participate in the CNIPA-EPO pilot.

          When filing an international application in English, nationals and residents of P.R. China will thus be able to select the European Patent Office (EPO) as International Search Authority. They will thus benefit from the opinion of the EPO long before entry into national phase, enabling them to save costs, and to have in advance of the entry into Europe a very good knowledge of chances to obtain a European patent.

        • Achilles Therapeutics Announces Grant of European Patent Covering Use of Selectively Expanded T cells Targeting Clonal Neoantigens for the Treatment of Cancer

          Achilles Therapeutics Limited (“Achilles”), a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company developing personalised cell therapies targeting clonal neoantigens, a novel class of tumour target, today announced the decision by the European Patent Office (“EPO”) to grant European patent EP3288581B, which covers the treatment of cancer using T cells that have been selectively expanded to target clonal neoantigens.

        • Patenting cleantech in Europe: A global market for Canada’s clean technology

          Because of the manner in which a single European application often leads to multiple national patents, attacking a competitor’s European patent family can be a daunting and expensive prospect. An exception to this general rule is the European opposition procedure. For a 9-month window following grant, a European patent can be challenged at the EPO by filing a so-called opposition. If successful, the European patent is deemed never to have existed, and all national rights stemming from the patent are revoked. European oppositions therefore provide a very cost-effective means of centrally attacking a recently granted European patent.

        • Software Patents

          • Soar in US AI patenting activity sees applications more than double from 2002-2018 [Ed: People rebrand software patents and frame them as "Hey Hi" (AI)]

            Artificial intelligence (“AI”) and intellectual property (“IP”), have been under the proverbial microscope in recent times. One debate has focused on how AI should be accommodated in IP law in the UK (see The Lens post here), the EU (here) and on the international stage (here). Another debate previously discussed on The Lens has considered whether an AI machine can be an inventor for patent purposes in the UK (here), the EU (here) and the US (here). These are important, real-time, practical questions, as a recent USPTO report titled “Inventing AI: Tracing the diffusion of artificial intelligence with U.S. patents” highlights.

            This report states that AI-related patent applications increased by 100% over this period, from 30,000 annually in 2002 to more than 60,000 annually in 2018. During that period there was also an unprecedented growth and broad diffusion of AI across technologies, inventor-patentees, organisations, and geography, which the USPTO thinks attests to the growing importance of AI for all of those seeking IP protection. This of course makes sense, given that patents are the primary form of legal protection for inventions – patent activity can indicate how the technology is growing and diffusing.

            The authors of the report developed a machine learning AI algorithm to examine all U.S. patent applications published from 1976 through 2018. Therefore, as the report puts it, they have used AI to discover AI, building on recent AI landscaping efforts by the European Patent Office (“EPO”), the World Intellectual Property Organization, and others. This examination found that patents containing AI appeared in 9% of technologies in 1976, spreading to more than 42% of technologies by 2018. While the growth of AI patent applications came in all AI-related technologies, “planning and control” and “knowledge processing” were the two categories that recorded the greatest increase in AI use.

      • Trademarks

        • The top filers and agility in action: inside EUIPO operations | World Trademark Review

          World Trademark Review’s annual EUIPO focus assesses current office processes, reveals the most proactive filers and explores how the agency has responded to the impact of covid-19 on its employees, users and offerings

          Every year World Trademark Review (WTR) runs an used on the EUIPO, analysing the evolution of office operations and updates on key projects. This year, however, things are inevitably different. The impact of covid-19 means that it has not been business as usual – in Alicante or anywhere else. How the office responded to the unprecedented crisis is therefore a natural starting point for a review of EUIPO processes and performance.

          In early June, the office announced that the exceptional extensions granted to users by two decisions of EUIPO executive director Christian Archambeau (Decisions EX-20-3 and EX-20-4) had come to an end. The extensions were designed to support users and covered all procedural deadlines, irrespective of whether they had been set by the office or were stipulated in the regulations.

          However, on their expiration, the office provided users with further guidance on coping with time limits stipulated in the applicable regulations, recognising that many will still face operational difficulties arising from measures taken by public authorities to tackle the pandemic, as well as sickness among parties or their representatives. The end of the extensions represented a partial return to normality, albeit one with increased flexibility and relying on a remote workforce. It has been an unprecedented few months to say the least.

      • Copyrights

        • uTorrent Inventor Wins Prestigious Technology Innovation Award

          Ludvig Strigeus, the Swedish programmer who made uTorrent and also helped to create Spotify, has been awarded the prestigious Polhem Prize. Strigeus received the technology innovation award for his exemplary coding skills, which helped to create two of the most used applications in the world.

        • Unmask 25 Pirate Site Owners: ACE/MPA Piles Pressure On Tonic Registry

          This week the MPA and RIAA reported the Tonic domain registry to the USTR as a notorious pirate market. As pressure mounts, two DMCA subpoenas obtained by the Alliance For Creativity and Entertainment on behalf of the MPA and dozens of other companies now order the company to hand over all information it holds on more than two dozen ‘pirate’ sites.

Inside the EPO During Corona: The European Patent Office (EPO), in Clear Violation of the Law and the EPC, Forces Parties to Join Surveillance Sessions (American Spying Companies) to Squash False European Patents

Posted in Europe, Patents at 5:53 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Additionally, advice from EPO staff regarding the health of staff was largely disregarded, so we know health wasn’t a real factor/motivation

Grave endings

Summary: The European Patent Office (EPO) is killing people’s privacy even inside their private spaces, so the unspeakable casualty is people’s most basic dignity and all this in the name of monopoly-granting, which is obviously non-essential (aggravation like surprise visits to people’s homes may be getting ‘normalised’)

THE EPO‘s abandonment of the law isn’t news. That happened a long time ago under Benoît Battistelli, yet that trend continues with António Campinos, whom the Council said would be better. If he’s so much better, why does EPO staff trust him even less than it trusted Battistelli after 2 years at the Office?

Can of tear gasWhy is Campinos meddling in the affairs of supposedly independent judges, e.g. in advocating software patents in Europe? Why is the Campinos regime publicly boasting about illegal practices? Why isn’t European media covering any of these scandals?

To make matters worse, European media along with law firms (and especially media in the pockets of these law firms) celebrates those illegal practices. Only a couple of days ago World Intellectual Property Review (WIPR) put it like this: “The European Patent Office (EPO) has revealed that it will extend a pilot project for holding opposition hearings by videoconferencing in response to the pandemic, which will become compulsory in order to clear a substantial backlog of hearings.” (from “EPO makes videoconferencing mandatory for hearings until September 2021″ with a paywall)

Andreas Schmid (Hogan Lovells) promoted in Lexology his update that said: “By way of an update, on 10 November 2020, the EPO has decided that all oral proceedings in opposition cases shall be held by videoconference as standard. Only if there are serious reasons preventing the use of video conference (e.g. if evidence needs to be taken directly), oral proceedings will be postponed until after 15 September 2021. It is important to note that the EPO will not allow mixed proceedings where one party attends in person and the other party attends by videoconference. However, contrary to the previous practice, it is no longer required that both parties need to agree to the videoconference.”

Kilburn & Strode LLP’s Gwilym Roberts did the same (in Lexology) to say “Video killed proceedings in Haar” (pop reference). To quote: “The European Patent Office has been edging towards videoconferencing (VC) hearings for several years. The advent of coronavirus drove an almost instant shift towards compulsory VC for lower level cases, but overnight the EPO has announced that all hearings below Appeal will shift to VC for at least the majority of next year. We’ve seen this as inevitable for some time and, as early adopters and major EPO users, outline here just how vital it is to embrace this shift, and what a powerful tool VCs can be if used well.

Watchtroll (“IPWatchdog”) wrote the following:

EPO VICO Report Shows Zoom Success, Substantial Backlog in Opposition Hearings – On Tuesday, November 10, the European Patent Office (EPO) issued a progress report on the pilot program for holding opposition hearings by videoconference (VICO), which started this May, showing that the VICO program has successfully incorporated the Zoom platform for multi-party VICO opposition hearings. However, a substantial backlog in opposition hearings has developed leading the agency to announce that the VICO pilot project, as well as the postponement of in-person hearings, will be extended until September 15, 2021, and that consent from all parties for VICO hearings will no longer be necessary after January 4, 2021.

Notice how not a single one of them mentions the illegality of the practice. Meanwhile, as it turns out, even staff meetings with Campinos are held over ‘VICO’ (or ViCo) and the President justifies spying on people inside their home (“The President repeated his claim that registration of(voluntary or mandatory)teleworking in MyFIPS was merely aimed at knowing “what staff were doing”.”)

Included below is the full publication about one such meeting going half a year back (from the Central Staff Committee):

Munich, 24.04.2020
sc20068cp – 0.2.1/6.2.1

Report on the meeting of the General Consultative Committee (GCC) of 1 April 2020

For obvious reasons, the GCC meeting could not be held in person, as is intended in normal times1. The President therefore stated before the meeting that the present difficult times would allow for a departure from a strict application of the rules and that a videoconference (ViCo) would be an appropriate (and legal) alternative.

The matters on the agenda

The followings items were submitted to the agenda for consultation:

1.Revision of Circular 355 – Regulations for the Staff Committee Elections – (GCC/DOC 02/2020)

2.Revision of Circular 317 – Investment strategies and procedure for the salary savings plan (GCC/DOC 03/2020)

3.Reimbursement policy for COVID-19 related medical expenses – (GCC/DOC 04/2020 REV 2)

The ViCo went reasonably well despite the fact that for most of the time we could not see the other attendees of the meeting. The President departed from his original intention of proceeding to individual, consecutive votes on the agenda items. We think that this indeed would have been a poor replacement for the already awkward simultaneous “show of hands” foreseen in the Rules of Procedure of the GCC. Instead, he asked us to give him our opinions in writing before midnight on Monday 6 April 2020.

We gave him our opinions within the set time limit. They reflect the collective view of the CSC members in the GCC. They are also annexed to the present report.

Additional matters

We also discussed additional matters at the end of the meeting.

1 Normally at the headquarters of the European Patent Organisation according to Article 4(1) of the Rules of Procedure of the GCC.

Registration in MyFIPS

The President repeated his claim that registration of (voluntary or mandatory) teleworking in MyFIPS was merely aimed at knowing “what staff were doing”.

Alert system / personal mobile phone numbers

Data protection issues and undue intrusion into the personal life of staff members / their families might arise from the use of personal data (e.g. personal (mobile) phone numbers) by the external (American) contractor OnSolve. The President announced he would look into the matter.

Salary Adjustment Procedure (SAP)

We stressed once more that none of our four successive proposals had been properly assessed by management, who had made no attempt to meet “in the middle of the bridge”. Our proposals do indeed save enough money – also according to the analysis of the consultants – and are legally solid. In the meeting it appeared, however, that the President was not aware of this analysis. Instead management has been sticking from day one to their own claim that salaries (and pensions) should be capped for the next 20 years, regardless of the circumstances. The President was not ready to address any technical aspect of the SAP but added that staff should be happy to have a nominal guarantee. The discussion went nowhere.

The President then argued that the present health crisis and the upcoming economic and social crisis would have consequences, e.g. in the number of filings, that might require an early reconsideration of the measures. He also mentioned that other stakeholders might not be so ready to carry their share of the effort. In particular, users would be insisting on a decrease to the level of fees2. We can therefore safely bet that savings to the detriment of staff and pensioners will never be enough.


The meeting was mostly noteworthy for its “virtual” format. The President is obviously very enthusiastic about virtual meetings3. For our part we think that face-to-face meetings with senior management cannot be completely replaced when
serious problems need to be discussed. In particular, the GCC is supposed to be the highest body for social dialogue and its meetings should remain in person, the present health crisis excepted.

We would like the positive development of us providing reasoned opinions in writing instead of “showing hands” to become the rule rather than the exception. We have always pleaded that our opinions should be as nuanced as possible. Let us therefore hope that the present crisis has triggered at least one (bitterly needed) improvement in social dialogue.

The Central Staff Committee

2 By not adjusting them to inflation.
3 See also his report on the successful mock e-Council of 25 March 2020 (erroneously mentioned
as having taken place on 26 March in the intranet)

Opinion of the CSC members of the GCC on GCC/DOC 02/2020: Revision of Circular 355 – Regulations for the Staff Committee Elections

The CSC members of the GCC give the following opinion on the proposal to amend the Regulations for the staff committee elections.

On the substance of this document

We appreciate the Administration’s willingness to amend the document following discussion in the GCC, namely by the clarifying of Articles 1(3) and 8(3). With regard to the new paragraph Article 1(4) (“at least one representative”), we requested having (at least) two representatives in job groups 5 or 6. Provided, of course, as is the case in Article 8(3), that elected members of any Local Staff Committee (LSC) of these job groups have stood for the (indirect) election to the Central Staff Committee (CSC). As a result, the LSC will themselves guarantee that all categories of staff (job group, gender…) will be fairly represented in the CSC, as far as possible.

In addition, we appreciate that the number of additional members for each LSC in view of the possibility for indirect election to the CSC has been taken into account for these Regulations (see Article 1(2)).

We would also like to refer on a positive note to Article 7(5), in which the number of votes per voter has been equalised to the number of seats available in the respective LSC.

Proposals for further minor amendments

Article 8(2) provides that “[i]n the event of a tie between candidates, seats shall be allocated to the persons with the longest length of service.” We propose changing this to read “In the event of a tie between candidates, seats shall be allocated to the persons with the longest length of service by drawing of lots under the supervision of the Supervisory Committee.

As regards Article 7(1) “Voting shall be conducted by electronic means”: whilst we also strongly prefer the electronic vote, in the event that it would not be possible to do so, and the Supervisory Committee would need to revert to an alternative (e.g. paper ballot), we propose that Article 7(1) be amended as follows: “Voting shall preferably be conducted by electronic means”.

Those proposals have not (as yet) been introduced into the final version.

On a general note

Whilst the above-mentioned amendments, taken in isolation, can be considered positive, they overcome only a portion of the deficiencies which were introduced in 2014 by document CA/D 2/14 (the new Social Democracy framework). Already in the last GCC meeting of 2 March 20201 we stressed that an opportunity to fundamentally reform this inadequate framework had been missed.

1 See our report: Report on the GCC meeting of 2nd March 2020

We reiterate that:

− as a general rule, management should stop interfering with staff representation matters;
− imposing rigid rules ensuring that management – instead of staff – controls the electoral process does not allow the autonomy and flexibility needed, such as for dealing with unforeseen circumstances;
− presidential decisions concerning the electoral process unnecessarily create litigation.

The phrase “Social Democracy” remains entirely inappropriate, since the current proposal does not offer true democracy – the proposed Regulations do nothing to encourage meaningful social dialogue. The Staff Committees and all forms of staff representation in the Office continue to be under the control of the President. Prior to the 2014 reforms the EPO Staff Committee was organised in a way which was similar to that of the EU. This is no longer the case.

We conclude, therefore, that the proposed Regulations will unnecessarily impede acconstructive relationship between staff and the President of the Office in a similar waycto the currently applicable Regulations.

The CSC members of the GCC

Opinion of the CSC members of the GCC on GCC/DOC 03/2020: Revision of Circular 317 – Investment strategies and procedure for the salary savings plan

The CSC members of the GCC give a positive opinion on the proposal to amend the Annex to Circular No. 317 concerning the funds available under the Salary Savings Plan.

There has been a long-standing wish to provide an alternative conservative investment option to fill the gap between the conservative Fidelity Demografiefonds and the dynamic target funds. The proposed option, a weighted average of the Fidelity World Fund (20%) and the Fidelity Euro Bond Fund (80%), appears reasonable.

The risk-reward analysis graphically presented in Annex 1 of GCC/DOC 03/2020 covers the period from 1 July 2014 to 31 May 2019. An more up-to-date analysis would have been appreciated, in particular because of recent market developments due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Still, the above weighting of 20% equity and 80% bonds justifies the conclusion that the gap has been reasonably filled. According to SC/SSP 6/20, page 24, the asset allocation of the most mature target funds was 75% cash, 21% fixed income, 4% equity (FF Target Fund 2020) and 44% fixed income, 56% equity (FF Target Fund 2025) as of December 2019. The asset allocation of the Demografiefonds was 16% equity and 84% fixed income and cash as of December 2019, see SC/SSP 6/20, page 25.

It is unfortunate that Annex 2 of GCC/DOC 03/2020 does not list the full ISIN codes for the Fidelity World Fund and the Fidelity Euro Bond Fund. It is assumed that these codes should be LU0069449576 and LU0048579097 respectively.

The CSC members of the GCC

Opinion of the CSC members of the GCC on GCC/DOC 04/2020: Reimbursement policy for COVID-19 related medical expenses

The CSC members of the GCC give the following opinion on the proposal to amend the Guide to Cover under the healthcare insurance scheme:

On the substance of this document

At the time of writing this opinion, eleven cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed among EPO staff in Munich and three cases in The Hague, with two of our colleagues currently in hospital. The pandemic is still progressing despite the containment measures applied in Germany, and the situation in The Hague is expected to become worse as long at the Netherlands continue to deviate from the recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO).

Cigna has advised its customers, including the EPO, to address the exceptional circumstances of the COVID-19 public health emergency. Following this input, the Office now proposes to adapt the internal reimbursement policy for medical expenses relating to COVID-19 by reimbursing all COVID-19 related costs at 100% with retroactive effect from 30 January 2020.

The Office initially proposed that this date be 1 March 2020. During the GCC meeting we highlighted the possibility that staff, dependents or pensioners could potentially have incurred medical expenses before this date, for example by being in Asian countries that were infected earlier than those of Europe. We therefore appreciate the willingness of the Office, following the discussion, to change the date to 30 January 2020, which is when the WHO Director-General declared the COVID-19 outbreak to be a public health emergency of international concern. We would have appreciated the addition of a sentence clarifying that potential cases that might have occurred prior to this new date would also be considered by OHS/MAU for 100% reimbursement. We hope that the Office will be flexible in practice.

On a positive note, we appreciate the amendment made after the meeting to clarify the duration of this temporary measure, namely by stating that the temporary changes to policy cover will apply “until the COVID-19 epidemic has officially been declared as contained by the WHO or the national authorities of the countries concerned”. We also fully appreciate the amendment made after the meeting that not only one COVID-19 test will be reimbursable at 100% but also all “[l]aboratory tests (e.g. COVID-19 test) for the purposes of preventing or actively treating COVID-19”.

It is to be expected that all EPO staff will make use of COVID-19 tests at some point in the future, as such tests may become a precondition imposed by governments for withdrawing the containment measures and allowing freedom of movement for individuals again.

We give a favourable opinion to the proposal.

On a general note

The proposal from the Office should be complemented with real preventive measures and a stronger focus on other treatments required by the COVID-19 crisis.

High risk groups

In an open letter dated 30 March 2020, the Central Staff Committee (CSC) drew the attention of the President to the report of the WHO-China Joint Mission on Coronavirus Disease 2019. This document identified that patients who reported no comorbid conditions had a crude fatality ratio of 1.4%, offset against the much higher rates for patients with comorbid conditions (13.2% for cardiovascular disease, 9.2% for diabetes, 8.4% for hypertension, 8.0% for chronic respiratory disease, and 7.6% for cancer).

Colleagues in the high-risk groups listed above, or living with such vulnerable people in their homes, should be discharged from any duty on Office premises, or if teleworking is not possible from all duties, so that they can stay in containment and focus on the health of both themselves and their family members.

The Office should also continue to provide EPO health benefits to high-risk dependents for the duration of the Coronavirus crisis.

Treatment outside the place of employment

In 2015, Mr Battistelli imposed a health reform requiring staff who are sick or in incapacity to request authorisation from the Office to leave the place of residence (see Circular 367, Art. 1(C)). Such measures should never have been put in place. It also de facto gives the power to the Office to decide where staff members can be treated.

There are also specific facts to consider regarding the population and work of the Office. The staff in our Office is relatively old and includes a substantial number of colleagues between 50 and 65 who are potentially at higher risk. Moreover, they are often expatriates. This situation may not be a favourable factor for access to the medical systems of our host countries, especially the Netherlands, once they have become overloaded because of the COVID-19 crisis.

The requirement for authorisation to leave the place of residence should therefore be immediately and officially quashed.

Psychotherapy treatments

Over the last few years, colleagues have reported to us that approval by Cigna for psychotherapy treatments has become more and more difficult, especially for long-term therapies. The Employee Assistance Program is not a sufficient answer to the unique crisis we are living in right now which is said to be changing the face of the world.

Colleagues are now seeing relatives and friends infected or even killed by COVID-19, leading to worry and grief. Combined with containment measures causing loss of rights and fear of the future, this will result in the need for large numbers of colleagues to have access to psychotherapy. The Office should encourage distressed colleagues to seek support, and there should be no petty penny-pinching when it comes to reimbursing the cost for such support.

Production pressure

Stress is a recognised aggravating factor for many diseases and medical conditions. Therefore, we maintain that the Office should flatten the (production) curve in order to support staff in maintaining their health.

The activity of the Office is not vital for our host countries or for Europe at the present time, and can therefore be slowed down for as long as is necessary to protect the health of staff.

The CSC members of the GCC

There’s a lot of stuff of interest above. In retrospect, the Office handled the situation very poorly, it disregarded the advice from the representatives of staff, and management failed to set a good example. As usual, it’s one set of rules for management (total impunity) and another for everybody else.

EPO hypocrites

IRC Proceedings: Saturday, November 14, 2020

Posted in IRC Logs at 2:01 am by Needs Sunlight



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