05.16.21

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The EPO’s War on Justice and Assault on the Law — Part 9: Squeezing Out the Lifeblood of Democracy?

Posted in Europe, Law, Patents at 6:59 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Previously in this series:

EPO discourse
Not much sign of a lively Habermasian discourse at the EPO’s Boards of Appeal in Haar these days.

Summary: The lack of public discourse at the EPO (where tyrants like Benoît Battistelli and António Campinos make up the rules and then have them rubber-stamped by kangaroo courts) helps explain an atrocious policy and moral abyss, which recently led to acceptance of European software patents and mass surveillance disguised as “access to justice”

EPO sources relate that, in his capacity as the Thane of Haar, Carl Josefsson is extremely reluctant to allow any staff committee or union activities on the Boards of Appeal premises.

According to the EPO Staff Regulations, staff have the right to be represented by a local staff committee “where more than fifty staff members are in active employment in a place of employment”.

“…Carl Josefsson is extremely reluctant to allow any staff committee or union activities on the Boards of Appeal premises.”At the end of 2020 the Boards of Appeal had a total of 256 staff, comprised of 196 persons working as chairs and members of the Boards and 60 ancillary staff in various management/administrative support positions.

On this basis, EPO staff members in Haar clearly have a statutory right to be represented by a local staff committee.

But inside sources report that Josefsson has stubbornly resisted the establishment of such a local committee, despite repeated requests from the EPO’s Central Staff Committee.

In addition to this, the once highly active Association of the Members of the Boards of Appeal (AMBA) appears to have become almost completely defunct during Josefsson’s tenure.

“…inside sources report that Josefsson has stubbornly resisted the establishment of such a local committee, despite repeated requests from the EPO’s Central Staff Committee.”AMBA was formed in 1999 to protect the interests of the members of the Boards of Appeal.

According to its statute, the aims of the association include “monitoring issues of relevance for the judicial function of the members of the Boards of Appeal with a view to safeguarding their independence” and “promoting the members’ self-government as members of a judiciary”.

At the bottom of the home page on the Association’s website there is a “Timeline of Independence” which is supposed to show “the most important events in the history of the boards”.

This timeline contains a total of 45 entries starting in September 1973 with the “Travaux Préparatoires” for the European Patent Convention (scroll to the bottom of the page).

“AMBA was formed in 1999 to protect the interests of the members of the Boards of Appeal.”The timeline ends in December 2016 with “Carl Josefsson appointed President of the EPO’s Boards of Appeal” (scroll to the bottom of the page).

It seems that, as far as AMBA is concerned, the appointment of Carl Josefsson in December 2016, is the “End of History”. Francis Fukuyama, eat your heart out!

The AMBA website hasn’t been updated to register Josefsson’s reappointment in December 2020.

The most recent postings on the website are links to:

• the 2020 Annual Report of the Boards of Appeal (which was released on 12 April 2021);
• the revised Rules of Procedure of the Boards of Appeal (dated July 2019).
• a communiqué about the 159th meeting of the Administrative Council held on 27 and 28 March 2019.

All of the above relate to information that is already publicly available via the EPO’s official website, here, here and here. (Warning: epo.org links)

“The AMBA website hasn’t been updated to register Josefsson’s reappointment in December 2020.”It seems like the AMBA website has been reduced to nothing more than a selective “mirror” of the official EPO website.

As a matter of fact there haven’t been any postings originating from AMBA itself since December 2016 when it issued a statement [PDF] about a “Resolution Against the Relocation of the Boards of Appeal to Haar” which had been endorsed by the majority of its members. Here it is:

AMBA Statement on the Reform of the BoA page 1

AMBA Statement on the Reform of the BoA page 2

It’s well known inside the EPO that, during the Battistelli era, AMBA did its best to keep a low profile.

According to reliable sources, the members of its executive committee were afraid that they might end up being targeted by Battistelli’s Investigative Unit and suffer the same fate as SUEPO officials, such as Laurent Prunier.

“According to reliable sources, the members of its executive committee were afraid that they might end up being targeted by Battistelli’s Investigative Unit and suffer the same fate as SUEPO officials, such as Laurent Prunier.”But although AMBA was more or less reduced to operating underground during those days, it still continued to function and it was capable of organising petitions and resolutions to protest against Battistelli’s abuses, even if these were routinely ignored by the Administrative Council.

Nowadays, under Josefsson’s regime, AMBA seems to have been completely neutered. Indeed, if appearances are to be believed it has been effectively killed off as a functioning association representing the interests of the members of the Boards of Appeal.

“Nowadays, under Josefsson’s regime, AMBA seems to have been completely neutered.”To borrow a phrase from Josefsson’s old buddy, the radical Swedish journalist, Per Wirtén, one might well ask: What happened to the “cascades of debate, quarrel and chatter” that make up “the lifeblood of democracy”?

While we are waiting for “Calle” to answer that question, in the next part we will try to figure out what exactly he gets from the “Faustian pact” that he has concluded with the EPO.

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