05.25.22

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The Latest Letter to Josef Kratochvìl and the Heads of Delegation of the Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation

Posted in Europe, Patents at 7:56 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Video download link | md5sum d9706ec2be896968a4e73d51dae165c3
Asking for Proper Oversight
Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0

Summary: A week-old letter from the Central Staff Committee (CSC) to the Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation highlights the nature of a crises; there’s no genuine dialogue and staff of the EPO (i.e. the scientists who do all the actual work) is constantly under attack

The Central Staff Committee (CSC) of the EPO has circulated among colleagues the following letter, an open letter, which had been prepared and then sent to the Council that fails to govern António Campinos, just like it failed to govern Benoît Battistelli. The GCC calls for change (“Need for changes in the consultation of staff”) and tells colleagues: “After the latest GCC meeting the CSC has decided to address the Heads of delegation of the Administrative Council, in this open letter.”

“The Council must intervene. But will it?”I’ve attempted to give some background to all this in the video above, but the letter below mostly speaks for itself. The industrial action and the misbehaviour of Campinos (he clearly violated the Code of Conduct of ‘his own’ organisation!) culminated in an impasse. The Council must intervene. But will it?

Here’s the full letter:

European Patent Office
80298 Munich
Germany

Central Staff Committee
Le Comité Central du Personnel
Zentraler Personalausschuss

centralSTCOM@epo.org

Reference: sc22055cl

Date: 17.05.2022

European Patent Office | 80298 MUNICH | GERMANY
To the Chairman and
the Heads of Delegation of the
Administrative Council of the
European Patent Organisation

OPEN LETTER

Need for changes in the consultation of staff

Dear Mr Chairman,
Dear Heads of Delegation,

The success of the European Patent Office rises and falls with the level of commitment of all staff. From the staff member in the lowest grade up to the President, everyone should rightly be expected to contribute to the functioning of the Office and the European patent system in an atmosphere of mutual respect. Of course, this also applies to social dialogue, whether official or informal.

Incidents in the consultation process
In this context the Central Staff Committee (CSC) feels obliged to draw your attention to “incidents” that happened in the latest consultation process. They were already echoed in the public Kluwer patent blog.

Statutory consultation foresees that CSC members shall represent the staff on the General Consultative Committee (GCC). The President, however, expressed in the GCC meeting on 26 April 2022 that our contribution in the official consultation was a waste of time. He used foul language throughout, he insulted most of our speakers, and he not just interrupted them, but prevented them from speaking multiple times. It was patently clear that he had absolutely no intention of taking heed to any of the arguments that we presented. Thus, statutory consultation was flawed.

Therefore, the CSC members of the GCC requested in a letter to the President that the consultation be repeated and that the official recording of the GCC discussions according to Article 38(5) ServRegs be made available to allow full transparency. Unfortunately, the President ignored this latter request. We request that you secure the recording and investigate the issue, as his appointing authority.


The package on “Professional mobility” (CA/32/22)
One document affected by the flawed consultation process is the proposal on Professional mobility which the President has just submitted to the Administrative Council for the forthcoming BFC and AC agendas. Central parts of the proposal are the policies on secondment (either national experts from national patent offices to the EPO or EPO staff to national patent offices). For instance the interested public could perceive the former policy as a privileged access to posts in the Office circumventing the strict criteria of the statutory recruitment defined in the Service Regulations.

The extension of the appointment of Mr António Campinos as President of the EPO will also be discussed in the June meeting of the Council. To avoid that his proposal is solely regarded in the context of the extension of his appointment, it should be of utmost importance that the opinion of staff on the Professional mobility proposal is taken into account. The CSC already emphasised some concerns as to the possible decentralisation of the Office when the orientation paper (CA/19/22) was presented to the Administrative Council in March 2022. In our open letter of 18 March 2022, we pointed to the necessity of convening the long overdue conference of ministers of the Contracting States according to Article 4a EPC to revise the outdated governance structure of the EPO.

In view of the flawed consultation process, the CSC can only recommend that the Administrative Council does not take a decision on the document yet. Litigation against a decision on a proposal stemming from a flawed consultation would create severe legal uncertainty for the upcoming years on the fundamental changes of the employment conditions associated with Professional mobility. The recording of the meeting may also be needed as evidence in regard of the flawed consultation.

Improving the consultation framework
Even if a President of the EPO could have the outstanding ability to establish and foster social dialogue and social peace, which was the mandate given to the current one (see CA/23/17), the recent unfortunate “incidents” show the need for an improvement of the framework for the consultation of staff. This requires a careful analysis of the status quo and as to why the current regulations could have led to disrespectful outbreaks evidenced in the audio recording of the recent GCC meeting.

An improved structure for the official consultation process will help to make staff’s opinion count. This will contribute to their engagement. The President and the Administrative Council will also profit from such improvements when making their decisions. It will improve the reputation of the EPO and it will ultimately strengthen the patent system in Europe.

Yours sincerely,

Alain Dumont
Chairman of the Central Staff Committee

cc.: President of the EPO
cc.: Directorate Ethics and Compliance

In the next post (and video) we’ll deal with some of the substance discussed in the GCC meeting. Staff isn’t being listened to. There’s only a pretence of that.

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