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EPO Robbery Under the Shadow of Pandemic Sweeping Across Europe

Posted in Europe, Finance, Patents at 10:55 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Old Icelandic Cashiers

Old cash drawSummary: The EPO is being looted by corrupt management which gaslights the staff and turns the Office into somewhat of a laughing stock (even stakeholders have grown impatient, seeing that justice itself ceased to exist in EPOnia)

The Central Staff Committee of the EPO has just circulated the following document. It shows that António Campinos isn’t more credible than Benoît Battistelli and the money only flows outwards to a financial scam, rather than to staff which does all the actual work (under exceptional circumstances).

Here’s what it says:

Zentraler Personalausschuss
Central Staff Committee
Le Comité Central du Personnel

Munich 22.03.2021
sc21040cp – 0.2.1/4.2.1

Reward exercise for pandemic year 2020
“Strong Together” but 30% of staff excluded

In a meeting with the Central Staff Committee on 24 February 2021, Mr Campinos announced that “in view of the efforts of staff to ensure business continuity under the challenging pandemic conditions, up to 70% of staff will be able to receive a pensionable reward” and confirmed his intention in an Intranet publication the following day. Mr Campinos has now tabled to the General Consultative Committee his “President’s Instructions on Rewards 2021” effectively confirming that 30% of eligible staff will be excluded. The document also reveals that Mr Campinos has even downsized the budget available for rewards despite massive savings made on the salary adjustment procedure.

2020, the first Covid-19 year…
The year 2020 was a challenge for all staff. When the Covid-19 pandemic broke out, EPO management put the focus on ensuring business continuity at all costs. Home-working, paperless and home-schooling became the rule. Constantly changing new digital procedures and tools were introduced. Thanks to the dedication of EPO staff, by the end of 2020 the EPO annual cash surplus amounted to at least EUR 310m (CA/56/20). When presenting1 the February 2021 analysis2 “Intellectual property rights and firm performance in the European Union”, Mr Campinos explained that “[t]he stronger your IPR portfolio, the better your business performs. And IPR-owning businesses don’t just generate more revenue, their employees earn more too.” Likewise, EPO staff should be thanked for making such achievements possible even during the pandemic.

… but downsizing the available budget
Mr Campinos presented in the Budget and Finance Committee (BFC) and the Administrative Council (AC) a draft budget 2021(CA/50/20) foreseeing:

- a salary adjustment of 2,2% bringing the basic salary mass3 to EUR 1.020.395.000;
- a budget for pensionable rewards4 of EUR 13.400.000 and of EUR 12.856.9775 for bonuses.
1 EPO post of 19 February 2021 on LinkedIn
2 “According to this analysis, firms that own IPRs generate 20% higher revenues per employee than their counterparts without an IP portfolio. The highest revenue-per-employee gains are linked to bundles of trademarks, with performance premiums of 63% for trade mark and design owners, and 60% for combined patent, trade mark and design owners. Firms that own IPRs also pay on average 19% higher wages than firms that do not.”
3 CA/50/20 page 67
4 CA/50/20 page 168
5 CA/50/20 page 169

However, Mr Campinos’ disastrous reform of the salary adjustment procedure capping the increase of global salary mass at Eurozone inflation (0,3%) + 0.2% had a massive impact in the final budget (CA/D 1/20):

- the salary adjustment of 0,5% decreased the expected salary mass6 to EUR
- the budget for pensionable rewards almost remained almost unchanged EUR 13.490.000 and the budget for bonuses was reduced at EUR 12.626.145

As a result of the new salary adjustment procedure, Mr Campinos made between the two documents savings of EUR 18.320.000 at the expense of staff without making any compensation effort on the budget for rewards.

Doubling down against staff, Mr Campinos has now tabled to the General Consultative Committee (GCC) his “President’s Instructions on Rewards 2021” (GCC/DOC 1/2021) which reduce the budget for rewards even further:

Pensionable Bonuses Rewards Total
Draft Budget 2021 (CA/50/20) 13.400.000 12.856.977 26.256.977
Annual Budget 2021 (CA/D 1/20) 13.490.000 12.626.145 26.116.145
President‘s Instructions (GCC/DOC 1/2021) 12.100.000 10.500.000 22.600.000
Downsizing of rewards budget -1.300.000 -2.356.977 -3.656.977

“Strong Together”?
How companies treat employees during a crisis reveal their true values. The way they reward them is one of them. Even when making at least EUR 310m surplus and unexpected savings of EUR 18 million, Mr Campinos cuts the budget for rewards by a further EUR -3.6 million. It shows that, contrary to what Mr Campinos promised after the Financial Study 2019, when the Organisation makes more savings than expected, these are not redistributed to staff.

We are still in a pandemic situation and with different pressures on each of us. It is morally questionable to maintain a competition-based system that goes blatantly against the values of cooperation that the administration propagates, thereby excluding 30% of eligible staff. Such a regressive and non-inclusive policy is impossible to reconcile with the “Strong Together” message the Office is trying to convey.

Mr Campinos has still full room for manoeuvre to show his recognition of the efforts of EPO staff by rewarding each staff member with a pensionable reward, especially during a pandemic. Not to do so will be his decision.

The Central Staff Committee

6 CA/D 1/20 page 57

The EPO has become so rogue that it cares neither about Europe nor its very own staff (people who do all the acual work). As we noted the other day, stakeholders are starting to notice that this whole thing is coming down, even justice itself. They’ve accused the EPO of likely spying on IP Kat comments and putting some of their own there. Weeks after a besieged panel said “OK” to some European software patents (dubious decision tainted by Campinos intervening) we now see EPO management crucified for meddling in another case or stacking the panel. Hours ago somebody wrote: “A question. The deemed date of receipt of the summons is Saturday 27th March. Does the two month period under Rule 115 EPC start on the 27th or the 29th March?”

“As we noted the other day, stakeholders are starting to notice that this whole thing is coming down, even justice itself.”The more interesting comments are above that one, but we still don’t know if Rose (AstraZeneca) deletes some of the better comments (we just know she deleted quite a few) and whether EPO management is pressuring them behind the scenes, as they did before…

Interesting times for sure.

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