10.09.21

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The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part VII: Luxembourgish Laxity

Posted in Courtroom, Europe, Law, Patents at 5:12 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Series parts:

  1. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part I: Let the Sunshine In!
  2. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part II: A “Unanimous” Endorsement?
  3. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part III: Three Missing Votes
  4. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part IV: The Founding States
  5. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part V: Germany Says “Ja”
  6. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part VI: A Distinct Lack of Dutch Courage
  7. YOU ARE HERE ☞ Luxembourgish Laxity

Lex Kaufhold
Do Lex Kaufhold and the other representatives of the EPO‘s founding states realise the damage that they caused by their cavalier rubber-stamping of the unlawful proposals submitted to them by Benoît Battistelli?
And do they have any intention of apologising for permitting serious breaches of the fundamental rights of EPO staff to persist over a period of eight years?

Summary: Today we look at the voting record of the small nation Luxembourg (population of 633,622 inhabitants as of March this year), a founding member state of the European Patent Organisation (EPO) that decided to violate the rights of all EPO staff; for comparison, total EU population is at 447,706,209 and EPO covers more than the EU, so the vote of Luxembourg weighs a lot, as much as Germany’s in fact, with only a thousandths of the total population covered

In the Benelux camp, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg followed its larger neighbour the Kingdom of the Netherlands and voted in favour of Battistelli’s Vichyite "Strike Regulations" in June 2013.

“During his visit to Luxembourg, Battistelli met with the Minister of Economy and Foreign Trade, Etienne Schneider…”An interesting background detail here is the fact that two months earlier – in April 2013 – Battistelli had paid an official visit to Luxembourg to attend a conference marking the country’s 6th annual “Intellectual Property Day”. [PDF]

During his visit to Luxembourg, Battistelli met with the Minister of Economy and Foreign Trade, Etienne Schneider, the Head of the national “IP” office, Lex Kaufhold, as well as with representatives of the national industry, the Business Federation of Luxembourg (FEDIL), and patent attorneys.

“After that “charm offensive” by the overlord of EPOnia, it is hardly surprising that the Luxembourg delegation agreed to endorse all of his proposals at the 136th Meeting of the Administrative Council which took place shortly afterwards.”Speaking at the conference to mark “Intellectual Property Day”, Battistelli acknowledged “the pioneering role of a founding member state of the European Patent Organisation, which is an important partner for the EPO.”

After that “charm offensive” by the overlord of EPOnia, it is hardly surprising that the Luxembourg delegation agreed to endorse all of his proposals at the 136th Meeting of the Administrative Council which took place shortly afterwards.

“In his official photo-ops, Kaufhold likes to project the image of a conscientious administrator who diligently studies his files.”The head of the Luxembourg delegation at the time in question was Lex Kaufhold, who continued to hold that position until the end of 2020. [PDF]

In his official photo-ops, Kaufhold likes to project the image of a conscientious administrator who diligently studies his files.

However, on this occasion he clearly failed to properly scrutinise the unlawful restrictions on the fundamental rights of EPO staff proposed by Battistelli.

Lex Kaufhold working
Head of the Luxembourg delegation, Lex Kaufhold, diligently studying his files. Unfortunately he seems to have overlooked some important details in connection with Battistelli’s “Strike Regulations”.

Kaufhold’s failure to perform due diligence in June 2013 may have inflicted serious moral injury upon the staff of the EPO, but it does not appear to have adversely affected his career in his home country.

In January 2021 he was promoted to a new position as a senior advisor (Conseiller de Direction 1ère classe) in the Office of the Minister for Economic Affairs. According to the official job description, Kaufhold’s new area of competence is advising on “assessment of risks, compliance and internal audit.”

“Kaufhold’s failure to perform due diligence in June 2013 may have inflicted serious moral injury upon the staff of the EPO, but it does not appear to have adversely affected his career in his home country.”Looking at his voting record on the EPO’s Administrative Council and his unqualified endorsement of Battistelli’s Vichyite "Strike Regulations", it’s not immediately evident that he would be the best person for that particular job. But who knows, maybe he has learnt a thing or two since June 2013?

Meanwhile, Kaufhold’s previous position as head of Luxembourg’s national “IP” office has been taken over [PDF] by Iris Depoulain who now represents the Grand Duchy on the EPO’s Administrative Council.

Prior to her promotion, Depoulain’s position at the Luxembourg “IP” Office was “Commissioner for Copyright and Related Rights”. So it’s not really clear how much she actually knows about patents. But hopefully she is a quick learner.

“…it’s not really clear how much she actually knows about patents. But hopefully she is a quick learner.”In any event, it remains to be seen whether or not the fresh-faced Ms Depoulain will prove capable of making a useful contribution to righting the wrongs which have been inflicted upon EPO staff by the Administrative Council during the Battistelli era when her predecessor headed the national delegation.

Iris Depoulain
It remains to be seen whether or not Iris Depoulain can help to steer the Council in the right direction and encourage it to right the wrongs which have been inflicted upon EPO staff during the Battistelli era.

In the next part we will take a look at the delegations representing the United Kingdom and its closest neighbour, the Republic of Ireland.

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