09.07.21

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EPO Timeliness (or How the European Patent Organisation/Office Uses Time to Deny Justice)

Posted in Europe, Law, Patents at 8:11 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Have I won my appeal yet?
Some people will never live (literally) to see justice; to borrow an example, Japan is just waiting for Korean “comfort women” to die (not many of them left by now).

Summary: Staff representatives from Europe’s second-largest institution show that many workers were denied a promotion in complete and direct violation of the contract they had signed; it took 6 years for the matter to be rectified and nobody is being held accountable, as usual…

THE Central Staff Committee (CSC) of the EPO wrote about nearly 3,000 days of EPO violating fundamental rights of the staff on the same day it issued a 3-page publication about CA/D 10/14, also known as “New Career System” (when the dictator Benoît Battistelli uses a term like “new” and António Campinos speaks of “adjustment” remember that it is newspeak).

“Back in 2014,” the CSC explains, “some examiners recruited under the Old Career System on language contracts in old job group grade A1 did not receive an expected promotion to A2 after the date of their appointment as permanent employees. This had to do with the transition to the New Career System (NCS). Some of them filed an internal appeal.”

This is about several dozens of workers who actively challenged the situation. There are more out there who chose not to challenge Battistelli, maybe out of fear (remember what year it happened; Battistelli was already kidnapping judges!), so there’s a call for more workers to join: “If your [sic] are in the same (or a similar) situation as the appellants, please send a short note to the CSC (Keyword A1/A2 promotion). In this way information can be shared and common actions, if needed, can be coordinated.”

“This is about several dozens of workers who actively challenged the situation.”“After more than 6 years of procedure,”the CSC notes, “the Appeals Committee unanimously recommends to compensate the appellants for the lost A1/A2 promotion…”

The CSC quotes a decision as saying: “Any reasonable person would have felt a sense of gross unfairness and injustice at receiving the treatment that resulted for the present appellants from the application of decision CA/D 10/14″ [New Career System]

How could the EPO’s management possibly win such a case? There’s no merit or justification for what it did. So of course the EPO “President [only after 6 years] has decided to follow the recommendation and retroactively grant the appellants the equivalent number of steps. We hope that the President will apply the recommendation to all colleagues who find themselves in the same or similar situation.”

“The EPO likes talking about “timeliness”, conflating that with quality, but when it comes to its very own staff a decision so trivial can take so long? It doesn’t make any sense.”Why did it take 6 years? Why does a fundamental right of staff being violated for nearly 3,000 days before something gets done (or not) about it? Why can ILO-AT appeals take half a decade (sometimes more) to fully process?

The EPO likes talking about “timeliness”, conflating that with quality, but when it comes to its very own staff a decision so trivial can take so long? It doesn’t make any sense.

Reproduced below is the full publication, dated yesterday:

Zentraler Personalausschuss
Central Staff Committee
Le Comité Central du Personnel

Munich, 06/09/2021
sc21110cp

New Career System
Appeals Committee in favour of staff

After 6 years appellants win cases on missed A1/A2 promotions

Case: No promotion to A2 because of New Career System
Some examiners recruited in 2014 under the Old Career System on language contracts in old job group grade A1 did not receive an expected promotion to A2 after the date of their appointment as permanent employees. This had to do with the transition to the New Career System (NCS). Some of those examiners filed an internal appeal.

Appeals Committee disagrees with the Office
The internal Appeals Committee in its final opinion on the case now recommends to compensate the appellants for the lost A1/A2 promotions. We are very pleased to learn that the President will follow this recommendation and retroactively grant them the equivalent number of steps.

The Appeals Committee concluded unanimously that the EPO was not sufficiently diligent in the exercise of its discretion and violated its duty of care by not providing any transitional measure. It also considered that the short time frame between the date the appellants accepted the job offer (2014) and the changes resulting from the New Career System reform (2015) constituted an aggravating factor.

The proceedings lasted 6 years
In the view that the Appeals Committee unanimously agreed with the appellants, our interpretation of the case is that it has been another substantial waste of time and money on the part of the EPO and staff. Indeed, for the Appeals Committee:

Any reasonable person would have felt a sense of gross unfairness and injustice at receiving the treatment that resulted for the present appellants from the application of decision CA/D 10/14 [New Career System]“

(from the abstract of the opinion of the Appeals Committee)

Note that CA/D 10/14 is the Administrative Council’s decision of introducing the New Career System.

Damage for the Office from errors of the past
Many lessons are to be learned and the outcome has still to be analysed. What is sure is that there is a need to avoid such litigation in the first place and, if unavoidable, to accelerate the internal procedure of conflict resolution. Office resources should be better managed in order to avoid sterile disputes. Errors from the past when implementing new reforms have caused much frustration to staff and highlight today once more the dysfunctional processes having led to these errors.

And for the future?
Many reforms of the past are tainted with unfairness and injustice. Our calls to revise them have received little attention but we still hope for a reassessment of the relationship between management and staff. A relationship in which legal conflicts are prevented and solved faster and more efficiently by an open dialogue.

Application to everybody?
The Appeals Committee has acknowledged that a total of 37 colleagues did not receive a promotion from A1 to A2 in 2014. However, only some of them filed an internal appeal. We hope that the President will apply the recommendation of the Appeals Committee to all colleagues who find themselves in the same or similar situation.

In our view, this would be the right way forward and an indispensable step towards a long due reconciliation. Furthermore, if recommendations by the Appeals Committee would be applied not only to those who filed an internal appeal but to everybody who finds itself in the same or similar situation as the appellants, this would contribute to substantially reducing the future workload of the Appeals Committee. Mass appeals and related legal costs could be avoided. Furthermore, it would greatly foster trust in the internal legal system.

You are in the same (or a similar) situation as the appellants? Contact us!
Please send a short note to the CSC (Keyword A1/A2 promotion) if you believe you are in the same or similar situation as the appellants. In this way information can be shared and common actions, if needed, can be coordinated.

Your Central Staff Committee

There’s so much injustice at the EPO and nobody is being held accountable. Why does the EU tolerate this? Why are member states not raising their voices? We’re going to look more closely at such questions in weeks to come.

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