Inside the EPO During Corona: There’s No Rule of Law Anymore and That Takes Its Toll on ‘Low-Level’ Staff

Posted in Deception, Europe, Finance, Patents at 6:58 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The staff representatives are barely allowed to speak to staff, never mind the media (due to typical harassment by Elodie Bergot)

Hush up

Summary: The EPO continues to assault its sole real asset (highly knowledgeable staff on the payroll), dooming any prospects of recovery during or after the crisis; to make matters worse, nobody holds the EPO accountable anymore (at least staff representatives are trying to)

TODAY we continue our ongoing series about the actions and inactions of António Campinos as Office President at the EPO. He’s no better than Benoît Battistelli, but Web sites connected to patent maximalists groomed him and glorified him as though he was a saviour. It got so bad that the people who took over IP Kat started mass-deleting comments about Campinos — as if to guard his image/reputation from critics. Remember that those aren’t the same people who exposed EPO abuses at IP Kat; all those people have left the blog, including the blog’s founder. I know this because I used to routinely speak to them.

Urban rain to comeWhen we speak of “Web sites connected to patent maximalists” we speak about sites like IAM, Managing IP, Watchtroll and so on. They don’t even pretend to be objective (not successfully anyway). They constantly talk to patent maximalists with the aim of promoting software patents in Europe and in the United States. Earlier this week Managing IP did a softball ‘interview’ with the people who try to undermine 35 U.S.C. § 101 in the United States, in effect using politics (with bribes from law firms) in an effort to undo Alice (SCOTUS), allowing the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to just grant loads of patents that patent trolls use the most. We’ve also just noticed, over at Managing IP, that Max Walters writes about the EPO’s “virtual policy”; he overlooks the vastly more important aspect, e.g. that all those hearings are unlawful. Does it bother them? No. More litigation, more lawyers’ time (bills). We know who sponsors this site all along…

“The EPO is not run by scientists; barely even one in management!”The decay of the EPO is of real concern to us; it’s becoming a patent-printing machine (of low-quality and invalid patents). The examiners rightly complain about it; they’re scientists, not printers. They joined to do the job of examination (studying specialised fields), not producing so-called ‘products’ by ‘googling’ some ‘closest prior art’ and then signing a box.

The EPO is not run by scientists; barely even one in management! This week, as one can predict, the management of the EPO reconnects with its corruption scandals (warning: epo.org link) in the Balkans. As we noted over a decade ago, Serbia doesn’t even have a standards body, but here they go about writing: “The Intellectual Property Office of the Republic of Serbia celebrated its centenary on 17 November 2020. To mark the occasion, the Serbian IPO hosted a special virtual conference on intellectual property which was attended by representatives from the areas of politics and IP.”

What they mean by “virtual conference” isn’t even remotely a conference, it’s just a bunch of people having a webchat from home. But this is the kind of thing today’s EPO is proud to do. They even sign agreements with countries which have not a single European Patent! Showmanship and PR is all that boils down to and yesterday we wrote about the exploitation of disabled people.

Suffice to say, many workers continue to leave the Office, some by taking early retirement, never to be replaced. Some have pointed out that the EPO's branch in Vienna is being drained out of staff. They can’t shut it down (EPC is strict about it), but they can suck the life out of it, as they gradually did in Berlin (we wrote about that years ago).

Back in June the Central Staff Committee wrote about departing workers:

Expatriation allowance – When transferring between places of employment

You may look for opportunities to support the Office to fulfil its mission with a transfer to a different place of employment.

We have recently become aware of some confusion and possibly unequal treatment between colleagues. The Office might also have changed to a stricter practice recently, so that entitlement to the expatriation allowance is becoming increasingly a tricky issue. You might lose it when transferring to a new place of employment. Or you might not receive it although you think you should have.

In order to avoid any unpleasant surprise, we recommend that you get written confirmation from your HR partner about the status of your expatriation allowance before you decide to transfer to a different place of employment.

Of course you may contact us and/or the Union to get further advice, or for any feedback you deem useful.

The EPO is hoarding billions of euros (money it’s not actually allowed to have), then gambling this money away. And in the process it robs the staff which was meant to be rewarded to maintain a high skills level. EPC out the door!

Here’s the full publication published back then to highlight what had been happening:

Munich, 19.06.2020
sc20098cp – 0.2.1/4.2.1/4.4

Changing place of employment and expatriation allowance

As a staff member, you might want or need to transfer to another place of employment.

The initiative in DG1: job fairs

Around mid-2019, VP1 Steve Rowan announced that job fairs would be conducted on a regular basis for DG1 staff1 , as more and more technical fields are running out of work in search & examination primarily due to the productivity surge of the last years. We always did and continue to encourage you to participate in these job fairs and look for opportunities to support the Office to fulfil its mission before it runs out of work in certain areas. Working in a different technical field might come with the necessity to move to a different place of employment, e.g. moving from the Netherlands/The Hague to Germany/Munich.

What about the expatriation allowance?

We have recently become aware of some confusion and possibly unequal treatment relating to very similar or even factually equal cases. The Office might also have changed to a more strict practice recently, so that entitlement to the expatriation allowance is becoming increasingly a tricky issue. You might lose it when transferring to a new place of employment. Or you might not receive it although you think you should have.

The relevant legal basis can be found in Article 72(1) ServRegs and in Circular 392 which entered into force in May 2018, without retroactive effect.

In order to avoid any unpleasant surprise, we recommend that you get written confirmation from your HR partner about the status of your expatriation allowance before you decide to transfer to a different place of employment.

Of course you may contact us and/or the Union to get further advice, or for any feedback you deem useful.

The Central Staff Committee

1 http://my.internal.epo.org/portal/private/epo/work/jobmarket/?WCM_GLOBAL_CONTEXT=/epo/intranet/work/jobMarket/jobfairs

If “entitlement to the expatriation allowance is becoming increasingly a tricky issue,” then that’s yet another example of the EPO’s staff being robbed while Office management does illegal things with money it is quietly (and meanwhile lying about) hoarding. Under ordinary and saner circumstances, the people who do this would be sentenced to prison, but instead they're being defended by their mates inside the Commission.

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