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The European Patent Office (EPO) Crushes Not Only Unions But Also the Press and Even Bloggers

Posted in Europe, Patents at 10:12 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

It’s “All Out War” at EPO

USB statement

Summary: The EPO is crushing unions pretty hard right now, but at the same time it spends around $80,000 per month fighting against critics and manipulating the media, as a recently-leaked EPO/Administrative Council (AC) document serves to prove

THE picture above is a screenshot of the original [PDF] (not at risk of censorship by the EPO, unlike SUEPO, so no local copy has been made here). It is self-explanatory and it states (in text):

Labour dispute at European Patent Office

Dear Colleagues,

We regret to inform you that three Staff Representatives have been suspended at the European Patent Office last Tuesday, 17 November 2015. The (EPO) has the privilege of setting their own rules independent of national framework, which in the absence of adequate checks and balances leads to many abuses. The (EPO) has been suffering from a wave of suicides in recent years and the social tensions are very high (see reports of the French newspaper Le Monde, attached).

Staff Representatives have to be protected from retaliating actions so that they can accomplish their function, which is to bring more balance to power.

With this e-mail to all staff in Brussels, we aim to foster awareness of these events and contribute to have them satisfactorily addressed.

With kind regards,

Union Syndicale Brussels

Additional information can be found here :





loffice-europeen-des-brevets/ (French MP ́s letter to the French Minister of
Economy and Finance)



So who is Union Syndicale Brussels? SUEPO says that “Union Syndicale Brussels (USB) is the biggest trade union in the European Public Service. Its members are drawn from all the European institutions and organisations. It has sections for the European Commission, the EU Council, the European Parliament, Eurocontrol etc. Founded in 1973, it was set up to defend the unique status of officials of the European Communities.”

Techrights too has experienced legal bullying, despite the EPO having no authority over Techrights (none of us is an EPO employee).”To quote USB: “Staff Representatives have to be protected from retaliating actions so that they can accomplish their function, which is to bring more balance to power.”

Techrights too has experienced legal bullying, despite the EPO having no authority over Techrights (none of us is an EPO employee).

“Union Syndicale Brussels has published a message of solidarity,” SUEPO explained earlier today, “for our three suspended colleagues and initiated the distribution of this message to the entire staff of the above European institutions and organisations – more than 50,000 employees.”

“A million bucks to shut up critics? Wow…”
Techrights is happy to support the actions or the messages of SUEPO. It has been disturbing and increasingly troubling to see what EPO management can get away with in Munich. People are either in disbelief or they just know nothing about it. Thankfully, in the coming days, a lot of the large press in the UK will shed light on these issues. Articles in English are also readable outside of Europe. And speaking of which, here is a new article in Portuguese (we need a translation as potential readers are only Portuguese or from former Portuguese colonies). We also welcome more leaks, especially those showing misconduct or bad conduct, rendering any leaker a whistleblower (who enjoys special protections, enshrined in law).

Regarding the EPO/AC document leaked the other day, one reader wrote to tell us: “My jaw just can’t drop anymore, it’s now stuck to the floor.

“A million bucks to shut up critics? Wow…”

“Expect agents provocateurs, industrial strength astroturfing, etc.”
Look at the original document. It names this as “support of Directorate for External Communications.” That’s probably alluding to Director of External Communications Jana Mittermaier, who helped Siemens restore their 'normal' public image or at least save face after their massive bribery scandal.

Remember what Bank of America (BoA) did right after it had discovered that material from the bank got leaked to Wikileaks? The authors and volunteers at Wikileaks wrote a great deal about it at the time. There was sabotage. See articles such as Bank of America Employing Three Intelligence Firms to Dismantle WikiLeaks, Anonymous Responds With Hacks.

“I sincerely hope you have a contingency plan should they try to steal or subpoena your computers.”
For Bank of America, money wasn’t the issue. At EPO too, budget is a bottomless pit. They think they can just pay (not their own money because it’s a European public service) to achieve anything they want, even after erring, abusing the law, etc.

Our reader continued pessimistically: “Expect agents provocateurs, industrial strength astroturfing, etc.

“Or for that money, they could also attempt to buy opponents.

“I sincerely hope you have a contingency plan should they try to steal or subpoena your computers.”

Well, I have backups remotely stored — physically — at safe places, but in order to protect sources I never remove my laptop from my house. This is probably known to those who follow me in social media sites (like Twitter); airports and other such places are now checkpoints for digital data (encryption does not help as they can compel the traveler to decrypt everything or face serious trouble).

“The minister of justice tried to shut up a group of Internet activists and critics who had the tendency to present very interesting stuff that was leaked, or even legally obtained using FOI laws!”
Given the appealing treatment that the suspended judge and staff representatives have been subjected to (military-grade interrogations and de facto raids), we must prepare for the worst. The legal bullying was a serious escalation in tactics, only months after the EPO had blocked this site.

Our reader added: “Have you heard of the Netzpolitik.org affair in Germany? The minister of justice tried to shut up a group of Internet activists and critics who had the tendency to present very interesting stuff that was leaked, or even legally obtained using FOI laws!

“If not, you might do well to look into this, as I see parallels.

“The AG tried to shut them up by using an A-bomb: TREASON LAW!

“Heiko Maas, the German minister of justice, who also happens to be the one ultimately responsible for the EPO in his country, made a bloody fool out of himself.”
“That caused a general uproar.

“You should perhaps get in touch with them, with the magnitude reached by this business, I think you need all the publicity you can get.

“Heiko Maas, the German minister of justice, who also happens to be the one ultimately responsible for the EPO in his country, made a bloody fool out of himself.”

“Recall what the ‘British Blackwater’, CRG, has been up to here, not just spying on sources of Techrights but also on Techrights itself.”Well, some people have already been mirroring Techrights in other relatively censorship-resistant sites and services. It makes silencing efforts rather futile, but maybe not impossible. Over the course of the past few months we suspect that even censorship at DNS (or ICANN) level was attempted, for reasons we specified here (in passing) a few times before. Without some recognition/status, knowhow (e.g. when it comes to system administration or combating DDOS attack), and supportive media coverage, we would have struggled to keep posting new information as we habitually do. Some people in positions of power really don’t like this Web site and would go as far as they conceivably can to derail operation. Recall what the ‘British Blackwater’, CRG, has been up to here, not just spying on sources of Techrights but also on Techrights itself. We mentioned that in posts such as:

We kindly ask readers to do what they can to also protect our right to free speech and our right to speak without an atmosphere of terror, which includes intimidation from lawyers, spying by goons who work with the Army, and incredible accusations against yours truly. Yes, the ad hominem attacks have already begun and maybe it’s no coincidence that right now the EPO has nearly a million dollars working on reputation laundering, which may include discrediting critics (at a budget of around $80,000 per month). The BBC is going to publish an important article, possibly tomorrow.

“A jury consists of twelve persons chosen to decide who has the better lawyer.”

Robert Frost

The Spanish EPO Scandal – Part II

Posted in Europe, Patents at 9:02 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

EPO scandal in Spain

Summary: An EPO-related scandal in Spain is explained, or new light is shed on what some belated research serves to show, revealing a continued atmosphere of nepotism and family connections

READERS have contacted us after the first part about an old article from 2011. They wanted to say more. Various sources of ours, who are very much familiar with Spanish politics and some of these old affairs, may help make this series a long one. We don’t quite know how deep it really goes, but today, in this second part of the series, we are going to advance to the story’s relation to the EPO, which recently contracted external PR people to help improve the image of the EPO (hence the picture above).

“Someone who is quite fluent at Spanish looked at this for us.”Based on information that we received from Spain and another reference we’ve found online (and later on we saw in a recent comment at IP kat), the Spanish community is gradually starting to realise just how rotten the EPO really is. This leads to further investigation by Spanish journalists who are familiar with Spanish politics and can educate us regarding historical context.

El Confidencial is an online centre-right and liberal periodical, according to the Spanish language Wikipedia. The title of their article is “LOS SINDICATOS DENUNCIAN UN CLIMA DE TERROR – Suicidios, espionaje, nepotismo… La Oficina Europea de Patentes es un polvorín” (which roughly translates into English as “The trade unions denounce a climate of terror — suicides, spying, nepotism… The European Patent Office is a powder keg”).

“It’s reminiscent of the story of Bergot at EPO.”Someone who is quite fluent at Spanish looked at this for us. “There isn’t really much original in there,” said the person, “but I did learn something I wasn’t previously aware of near the end of the article, and would constitute, in my humble opinion, a very juicy morsel for Techrights.”

The juicy morsel is as follows: “Battistelli, de hecho, fue nombrado doctor honoris causa por la Universidad Menéndez Pelayo en julio de 2014. El representante español en la OEP es Alberto Casado, elegido vicepresidente por cinco años en 2012 y anterior director general de la Oficina Española de Patentes y Marcas. La actual directora general es Patricia García-Escudero, hermana del presidente del Senado, que llegó al cargo tras un polémico nombramiento. Fue elegida sin que se agotaran los plazos administrativos.

“In English,” the person told us, “the first sentence referring to Battistelli’s vanity title [last year in Spain] isn’t that interesting, but the story improves considerably afterward.”

This paragraph says that the Spanish EPO Vice-President, Alberto Casado Cerviño, who was elected Vice-President in 2012 for a five-year mandate, was previously in charge of the Spanish equivalent. The present person in charge is Patricia García-Escudero, whom we wrote about in part one. It’s reminiscent of the story of Bergot at EPO. See part one, part two, part three, and part four of “EPO: It’s Like a Family Business“.

“…the first sentence referring to Battistelli’s vanity title [last year in Spain] isn’t that interesting, but the story improves considerably afterward.”
García-Escudero took charge amidst a controversy surrounding her appointment. She was selected while the administrative period for applications was still running. Alberto Casado Cerviño appointed her and some believe that this was done for political reasons. The original text contains this link to a 2011 article by the same publication. We provided a translation of it in part one.

Update: As of the time of writing, SUEPO made a translation into English [PDF] publicly available. In HTML form (richer formatting and hyperlinks can be found in the corresponding PDF):


Suicides, espionage, nepotism… The European Patent Office is a powder keg

The unions claim that an atmosphere of terror has been created at the European Patent Office, which has brought about suicides, sick leave, and repression. The scandal has reached the level of Government itself.

EPO's Battistelli
Benoît Battistelli, President of the European Patent Office. (EPO)
Carlos Sánchez

Reading time 6 min
26.11.2015 – 05:00 H.

Florian Mueller, a world authority on the granting of patents, says: “The most recent information we’re getting describes a situation that would be inconceivable anywhere in the civilized world, but then the European Patent Organization, quite simply, is not a part of the civilized world”. It has even been said that the Office today is the last dictatorship on European soil.

So what is Mueller, a German, talking about? Nothing more and nothing less than the fact that an atmosphere of panic at work and psychological terror has been created among many of the 7,000 or so employees of the European Patent Office (EPO). Union representatives claim that in the past few years at least five suicides have occurred (one employee jumped out of the window in July 2013 at the office in The Hague), and many others have been suffering from enormous psychological pressure, resulting in patents being granted without their technical quality being properly verified.

The important thing, according to the sources, is productivity, even though some patents have subsequently been invalidated. There are accusations, backed up by internal documents from the Patent Office itself, which reveal that a number of big corporations are benefiting from preferential treatment over small companies when it comes to the examination procedures.

Some 2,000 employees recently took to the streets of Munich to demonstrate against the management of the President and the executive team.

The latest incident happened on 13 November, a Friday, when two employees, one of them Spanish, Jesús Areso, and the other French, Laurent Prunier, were summoned to make statements at the Office at The Hague before the EPO Investigation Unit sent by the President, Frenchman Benoît Battistelli. The union SUEPO , which represents the employees at the Patent Office, claims that after these interrogations, which had a clearly intimidating purpose, both the people concerned had to be taken to hospital as emergency cases. One of them had suffered a major nervous attack, and the other, for similar reasons, had to be admitted. Prunier continues to be on sick leave.

And there is more. Some staff members have been suspended from work, and others have laid claims before the courts about the persecution which they are suffering. At least three staff
representatives have been suspended in Munich, Elisabeth Hardon, Ion Bromme and M. Weaver, and others at The Hague. The parliamentary deputy for French citizens abroad, Socialist Pierre-Yves Le Borgn’, has demanded public explanations from the President of the EPO with regard to the climate of repression, and has made official representations to the French Minister of the Economy, Emmanuele Macron, in letters on the matter.


Le Borgn’ claims in his letter that intense interrogations have been carried out with “unusual violence”, which have left some employees in a state of ‘shock’ and resulted in their needing medical treatment. Neither human rights nor labour laws can be allowed to remain outside the headquarters of the European Patent Office, the high-ranking Frenchman says in his letter, and demands that the member countries condemn these practices.

Some officials have been suspended from their duties, and others have laid claims before the courts about the persecution which they are suffering at work.

The situation has reached extremes that are unheard of in this type of international institution, where officials from many different countries work, with very different cultures. Some 2,000 employees recently took to the streets in of Munich to demonstrate against the President, who is, incidentally, supported by Spain, and his executive team, whom they accuse of nepotism and irregularities involving the buying of votes. Essentially, as a source who prefers to remain anonymous points out, the vote of a representative from Albania or Georgia counts the same as that of Germany, which makes it easy for the people concerned to be compromised in the form of travel, expenses, medical services, or “extra-ordinary” income. Something which finds an echo in events at FIFA, in the decision-making process, where countries with little resources are complaining about decisions taken with money being exchanged.

The scandal has spilled onto the pages of a number of big European newspapers, and the German Commission for Data Protection has demanded that the European Patent Office respect the rights of its employees. The Dutch press, too, maintains that a reign of terror has been established in the EPO, to deal with personnel who voice dissention about the arbitrary decisions being taken by their superiors.

Nazi propaganda

The President of the EPO, Benoît Battistelli, rejects these accusations, and in a letter to the French Minister of the Economy he attributes the incidents to the staff representatives
themselves, and to a “campaign of defamation” against him personally. He also says that a senior functionary of the EPO was suspended from his position because he had been involved in the leaking of confidential documents, as well as having kept weapons and Nazi propaganda in his office.

A number of members of the European Parliament have taken an interest in the atmosphere of panic at work which has invaded the EPO, surrounding, according to the unions, the French functionaries close to the President, who form his “Praetorian Guard”. A complaint has gone as far as Strasbourg that a number of computers with public access have been fitted with cameras and spyware in order to record what employees are writing. The EPO has also been accused on a number of occasions of not maintaining a sufficiently independent board of appeal. This is the body before which appeals are presented against decisions by the patent organization itself.

EU Parliament
A number of Euro MP’s have shown an interest in the matter. (EPO)

The Office is an organization of an international nature, created under the auspices of the European Patent Convention of 1973, which propagates its own conditions of work and maintains centres in Munich, The Hague, Berlin, and Vienna. The member states are all the members of the European Union (EU), plus a number of other European countries (Switzerland, Norway, Turkey, Albania, or Georgia), and since 2010 it has been directed by Frenchman Batistteli, who is at the eye of the hurricane, and who enjoys the backing of Spain.

Batistteli was in fact been bestowed with the title of doctor honoris causa by Menéndez Pelayo University in July 2014. The Spanish representative at the EPO is Alberto Casado, elected as vice-president for five years in 2012, and former director general of the European Patent and Trademark Office. The current director general is Patricia García-Escudero, sister of the president of the Senate, who acceded to the position amid some controversy over the appointment. She was appointed without having served other administrative terms.

As the German press maintains, the problem is that the European Patent Office is a state within the State, which functions with its own laws. The President, according to the Statutes, is availed of wide powers, and the only body which can exert legal supervision over him is the Administrative Council, on which 38 member states are represented. Accordingly, the court rulings which apply in the Netherlands or Germany cannot be imposed on the EPO. In the words of someone who knows the organization well from the inside, the EPO “has set itself outside any control”.

EPO Staff Representatives Highlight to Pierre-Yves Le Borgn’ How Battistelli Deceived Him

Posted in Europe, Patents at 10:36 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Pierre-Yves Le Borgn’
Photo via Wikipedia

Summary: Some of the latest material to and from French MP Le Borgn’, who is being informed by EPO staff representatives rather than lectured by Benoît Battistelli, with convenient references to Battistelli’s ‘media partner’ in France

ABOUT a week ago we wrote about the latest actions from Pierre-Yves Le Borgn’, who is genuinely concerned about the EPO scandals (he has been active in this area for a while). Some sources of ours try to frame it as political opportunism and partisanship, but whatever the motivations, the outcome would help not only French nationals. There are now some new developments as SUEPO sent new comments regarding the letter of the EPO’s President to Pierre-Yves Le Borgn’.

As SUEPO put it yesterday: “In an apparent effort to put a positive “spin” on his position, Mr Battistelli’s letter (translation in English) can at best be described as being economical with the truth. In an effort to put the record straight, SUEPO Central establishes in a paper the facts that will clearly refute a mere selection of his more amazing statements.” (see the remainder in the paper below)

“A new document was published on the blog of French MP Le Borgn’,” a reader told us. “It is a strongly worded point-by-point rebuttal by SUEPO to Battistelli’s letter, as well as a summary of his misdeeds.

“Hopefully an English translation will be coming on SUEPO’s web site,” this reader told us. This person definitely does not work at the EPO, but the world is watching and more people get involved over time. This morning I spoke with a journalist from the BBC, so expect coverage there too. Also see this new article from LabourNet Germany. English language articles too are being spread right now, in the biggest technology-centric British media (e.g. The Register last night).

Here are all the relevant documents journalists should be aware of:

The PDFs above are mirrored because of a history of EPO censorship against SUEPO's Web site. There is some English in these documents, as quoted below:

Comments on letter of President Battistelli to Pierre-Yves Le Borgn’ dated 20.11.2015

In an apparent effort to put a positive “spin” on his position, Mr Battistelli’s letter (translation in English) can at best be described as being economical with the truth. In an effort to put the record straight, we establish the facts that will clearly refute a mere selection of his more amazing statements.

Part 1: Allegations of harassment amongst staff representatives

The second paragraph is a key part of the letter, wherein it mentions six resignations from the staff representation. One particular case in The Hague is attributed to a “campaign of harassment”. It is later implied that all elected staff representatives who either were not SUEPO members or who express opinions contrary to the union have left the staff representation. In the context of a response to Mr Le Borgn’s reaction to the news of the suspension of three staff representatives in Munich, the President seems to suggest that these “facts” alone justify all the suspensions.

The truth is:

1. Of the three suspended staff representatives, two are accused of an alleged misconduct that is totally unrelated either to resignations in the staff representation, or to harassment of staff representatives.

Evidence: first pages of the reports setting out the reasons for the disciplinary procedures against two of the three suspended colleagues.

2. The initial accusation of harassment raised against the third staff representative who has been suspended has not been maintained in the disciplinary procedure. The same elected official is now accused of allegedly harassing other colleagues, this time in Munich. Yet none of these purportedly “harassed” colleagues has actually filed an individual complaint.

Evidence: first page of the report setting out the reasons for the disciplinary procedures against the third suspended colleague

3. Two colleagues elected since the introduction of Social Democracy to the local staff committee in Munich have resigned. These colleagues were both “SUEPO candidates” who resigned primarily or exclusively because they received threatening letters sent by the President and/or Ms Bergot. Moreover, two other colleagues in Munich who were not “SUEPO candidates” are still active, i.e. they have not resigned. There is a similar situation in The Hague. In other words, there is no simple one-to-one correlation between being “SUEPO candidates” or not and these resignations, as is suggested by Mr Battistelli.

Evidence: The colleagues who resigned from the Staff Representation are all in a position to confirm this.

4. It is important to note that apparently none of the alleged victims has filed an individual complaint. The investigation into the alleged harassment by one colleague which was later expanded to embrace other staff representatives seems to be solely based upon a complaint filed by Ms Bergot, Principal Director HR. Even if acting on the harassed party’s behalf, Ms Bergot has a rather blatant conflict of interest.

Evidence: first page of the report of Control Risks on the third colleague.


a) The second paragraph of Mr Battistelli’s letter grossly misrepresents the basic facts and may lead the reader to draw the wrong conclusions.

b) The accusations against all three suspended staff representatives are both vexatious and absurd:

  • A public comment on the allegations that form the basis of the cases against two of the three suspended staff representatives, ridiculing the Office, can be found here: http://ipkitten.blogspot.de/2015/10/epo-bids-to-save-litigating-employees.html
  • Public comments on the specific case against the third colleague can be found here: http://ipkitten.blogspot.de/2015/10/when-harassment-gains-new-meaning-epo.html
  • Public comments on the suspensions in general can be found here: http://ipkitten.blogspot.de/2015/11/eponia-land-of-suspense-and-suspensions.html

Note that IPKat blog, although often humorous, is a highly respected and influential, independent IP blog, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IPKat

Part 2: Allegations against the suspended member of the Boards of Appeal

Paragraph 3 on the second page simply repeats allegations against the suspended Boards of Appeal member that were apparently raised by the Investigative Unit. Amongst these are “storing weapons and Nazi propaganda”.

Even should such allegations eventually be found to be true, then the President of the EPO’s action publicly commenting on a pending procedure would represent:

(a) a serious breach of confidentiality,
(b) an offense against the presumption of innocence,
(c) an unacceptable interference with an on-going procedure,
(d) and a potential case of him defaming our suspended colleague

The President should, however, have known that the Enlarged Board of Appeal had already dismissed the case because the accusations were too generic and unsupported by a detailed correlation to any evidence available that would allow the accused to defend himself adequately and have allowed the EBoA to assess the case in accordance with proper judicial standards.

Evidence: Decision of the Enlarged Board of Appeal of 17 Sept. 2015 (the reasoning of which was only published recently), pages 24, 25 and 33.


a) Under such circumstances, it is incomprehensible that the President of the EPO continues to publicly accuse the suspended Board member in such an outrageous and misleading manner.

b) As always, the comments of IPKat on this topic are worth reading: http://ipkitten.blogspot.de/2015/11/why-enlarged-board-rejected-ac-in.html

Part 3: Remaining parts of the letter

The remaining parts of the letter are of a comparable level. What is particularly striking is the contrast between the noble principles and intentions expressed by Mr Battistelli and the reality.

The question arises as to why Mr Battistelli insists on making statements that are so readily refuted: whether it proves to be deliberate or just defiant, only time will tell.

It is worth noting that for ‘evidence’ (in the original letter), Battistelli cited his own ‘media partner’, Les Échos [1, 2, 3, 4]. There is a huge budget for this kind of propaganda right now. The management of the EPO wages a war on truth itself. It’s a losing battle, but there will be victims, including — potentially — casualties of suicide.

See below for more context. That’s Pierre-Yves Le Borgn’ speaking in French about the EPO.

Translation of the video below can be found here.

Links 1/12/2015: Porteus Kiosk 3.6.0, Linux Mint 17.3 “Rosa”

Posted in News Roundup at 9:27 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

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    • Does the Open Document Format still matter?

      One of the core topics of this blog -at least one of the main reasons it came to existence- was open standards: their benefits, their advantages, and their value as a fundamental component for digital innovation and ultimately software freedom. This is still the case of course, but today I will try to show how one open standard in particular, ODF, has failed in its approach until now and could very well make a remarkable comeback.

      This is not to say that ODF is a bad idea or that it is not a good standard; it is all this and much more. However I have realized with the hindsight of several years since it became an official ISO standard that the expectations about its adoption and its development have been defined the wrong way. Hence the title of this post.

    • Your guide to 7 open eBook formats

      Electronic books, or eBooks, have been around for a long time, but convenient devices upon which to read them are a relatively recent development. Between mobile phones, tablets, and dedicated eBook readers, chances are you have some device in your life that you can use to read an electronic book upon. That’s great for leveling up on how much you read, but it begs the question of what open file formats are out there for eBooks, and which ones are best.

    • “Open standards should be a priority” – MITA

      Open standards should be a priority in public administration’s IT projects, says Noel Cuschieri, enterprise architect at Malta’s Information Technology Agency (MITA). Open standards are a strategic part of Malta’s IT policy, Cuschieri says.


  • Where does a person have online discussions anymore?

    Back in the day, way back in the day perhaps, there were interesting places to hang out online. FidoNet provided some discussion groups — some local, some more national or international. Then there was Usenet, with the same but on a more grand scale.

    There were things I liked about both of them.

    They fostered long-form, and long-term, discussion. Replies could be thoughtful, and a person could think about it for a day before replying.

    Socially, you would actually get to know the people in the communities you participated in. There would be regulars, and on FidoNet at least, you might bump into them in different groups or even in real life. There was a sense of community. Moreover, there was a slight barrier to entry and that was, perhaps, a good thing; there were quite a lot of really interesting people and not so many people that just wanted answers to homework questions.

  • Science

    • HPC Helps Drive Weather Forecasting

      The computational requirements for weather forecasting are driven by the need for higher resolution models for more accurate and extended forecasts. In addition, more physics and chemistry processes are included in the models so we can observe the very fine features of weather behavior. These models operate on 3D grids that encompass the globe. The closer the points on the grid are to each other, the more accurate the results. Today most global grid models use a range of 10 to 25 kilometer separation between points; the Holy Grail of weather forecasting is to reduce that separation to one kilometer or less.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Will EU renew $1.25bn deal with tobacco firm PMI?

      There are 222 days left until an unprecedented treaty between tobacco company Philip Morris International (PMI) and the European Union expires. The 2004 deal saw Europe halt all its legal claims against PMI in exchange for the multinational’s cooperation in the fight against cigarette smuggling. The EU had previously sued PMI and other tobacco companies in the US over suspected involvement in smuggling operations.

  • Security

    • Security advisories for Monday
    • Warning: Internet security turbulence ahead

      A little more than a year ago, I urged manufacturing companies testing the IoT waters to leave the work of bringing Internet connectivity to their traditionally unconnected products to those who understand what’s at stake. I’m not alone in my concerns that the IoT brigade will bring with it an avalanche of staggeringly insecure products that will find their way into our daily lives.

      What we’re seeing right now is a hopefully imperfect storm of security challenges that, with any luck, will not result in global security and privacy breaches. In one corner, we have companies like Dell and Lenovo distributing computers with wide-open root CAs, allowing anyone with a small amount of skill to crib a certificate and spoof SSL websites, run man-in-the-middle attacks, and install malicious software on those Windows systems with nary a whimper from the “protections” in place to prevent such issues.

    • Flaws in Huawei WiMax routers won’t be fixed, researcher says

      Huawei isn’t planning on patching several flaws in seven models of WiMax routers that are not being supported anymore by the company, according to a security researcher.

      Huawei isn’t planning on patching several flaws in seven models of WiMax routers that are not being supported anymore by the company, according to a security researcher.

      Pierre Kimpublished a list of the affected models, which are still used in countries including Ivory Coast, Iran, Iraq, Libya, the Philippines, Bahrain and Ukraine.

    • The threats of November 2015, Linux ransomware leads the way according to new report [Ed: Blaming already-resolved CMS bugs on “Linux”]
    • Can’t get a break: Pwned Linux ransomware pwned again, infects 3000

      WordPress and Magento sites are the main targets. The software had infected 2000 sites by 12 November and surpassed 3000 two weeks later.

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • Here We Are Again on the Way to War – and All Anyone Can Talk About is the Labour Whip

      Often in the past few days, BBC listeners and viewers, and readers of the unpopular newspapers, might have had the impression that Britain is discussing the pros and cons of an intervention in the Labour Party, rather than of an intervention in Syria.

      As I read the papers and listened to BBC Radio 4 on Friday morning last week, I was baffled to find that the main item was not the plan for war, but the divisions on this subject within the Labour Party.

    • Wow

      I think you can measure the death of democracy by the sheer audacity of the propaganda that government can get away with. Michael Fallon today on the Marr programme churned out the “70,000 moderate rebels” lie with a smooth bland face, and mentioned only the Free Syrian Army when pressed on who they were exactly. This is dishonesty on an epic scale.


      As does the fact that a substantial number of MPs of the official “opposition” have spent the weekend actively colluding with government ministers to forward the government’s militarist agenda.

    • [Old] Turkey sends in jets as Syria’s agony spills over every border

      When US special forces raided the compound of an Islamic State leader in eastern Syria in May, they made sure not to tell the neighbours.

      The target of that raid, the first of its kind since US jets returned to the skies over Iraq last August, was an Isis official responsible for oil smuggling, named Abu Sayyaf. He was almost unheard of outside the upper echelons of the terror group, but he was well known to Turkey. From mid-2013, the Tunisian fighter had been responsible for smuggling oil from Syria’s eastern fields, which the group had by then commandeered. Black market oil quickly became the main driver of Isis revenues – and Turkish buyers were its main clients.

      As a result, the oil trade between the jihadis and the Turks was held up as evidence of an alliance between the two. It led to protests from Washington and Europe – both already wary of Turkey’s 900-mile border with Syria being used as a gateway by would-be jihadis from around the world. [...] direct dealings between Turkish officials and ranking Isis members was
      now “undeniable”.

    • The Guardian view on Syria: MPs should say no to airstrikes without a strategy

      There is a right way to approach a question as serious as whether the UK should extend airstrikes against Islamic State to Syria – and a wrong way. The wrong way is to view it through the lens of the bitter debate about the future of the Labour party and in particular its leader. For all the drama of Monday’s decision to allow a free vote, the threat of Isis is too grave to be used merely to undermine or shore up the position of Jeremy Corbyn.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • In New York Times, Blue Eyes ‘Wince and Cloud’ at the Terror of a ‘Gentle Loner’

      It’s hard to say what was more incongruous: the description of someone who had reportedly admitted carrying out a deadly act of terror as a “gentle loner” or the presumption that phrase could be attached to someone who “occasionally unleashed violent acts” toward women and others.

      Faced with a barrage of criticism on Twitter and elsewhere, the Times rewrote the lead of that story to make Dear less “gentle.” Now the same reporters reported that “neighbors said they barely knew him”—the same neighbors, presumably, to whom the earlier description was attributed.

    • What You Never Hear On Fox News
  • Censorship

    • A Decade-Old Gag Order, Lifted

      A few days earlier, an FBI agent had come by Calyx’s offices and handed Nick a “national security letter” demanding that Calyx turn over sensitive information about one of its subscribers. The letter included a gag order prohibiting Calyx from disclosing to anyone that it had received the demand. It also included an attachment listing the kinds of information that the FBI wanted Calyx to turn over.

    • Right-wing group Britain First calls Facebook ‘fascist’ after fan page banned by mistake

      Britain First, a far-right group that opposes immigration and brands itself a “patriotic resistance and ‘frontline’ for our long suffering people”, accused Facebook of fascism after its page on the social network was briefly taken down.

      The group saw its page briefly taken down for violating rules on Monday, with a message saying its page had been “unpublished” and that Facebook does not tolerate hate speech.

      However, the page was subsequently re-published. “The page was removed in error but has now been restored,” a Facebook spokesman said.

      The Facebook page is known for publishing anti-immigrant, and pro-army and Christian messages on Facebook, with its fan page receiving more than 1.1 million “likes”. However, it has also generated a backlash, with an opposition page, “Exposing Britain First”, becoming popular.

    • Sweden refuses to order ISP to block Pirate Bay

      Sweden’s internet service providers cannot be forced to block file sharing site the Pirate Bay nor be held responsible for copyright infringements by users, a court has ruled.

      Stockholm District Court rejected a lawsuit filed by the Swedish Film Industry, Nordisk Film, Universal Music, Sony Music and Warner Music last year which argued that Sweden’s second-largest internet service provider (ISP) Bredbandsbolaget should be held liable for the copyright infringements of its users should it refuse to block access to the Pirate Bay.

      The court said in a statement: “The District Court considers that Bredbandsbolaget’s operation and conduct in the present case does not constitute participation under Swedish law.”

  • Privacy

  • Civil Rights

    • Remember Why We Have the Fourth Amendment

      The Paris attacks have fueled a debate over surveillance on both sides of the Atlantic that, while not new, has reached a level of hysteria that I have not witnessed since the weeks and months following 9/11. There is great cause for grief and great cause for concern over whether those horrific events could have been prevented. But in our desire to prevent such a tragedy at home, it is vital for Americans to remember the values that drove the birth of our nation, and to guard them jealously. It is not “handwringing” to fret over the future of privacy rights, religious freedom, and free speech. At a time when the British government has spent months discussing its desire to implement a “Snooper’s Charter” and ban strong encryption, we would do well to remember that the Brits are the reason we have the Fourth Amendment (and the First), rather than echoing their arguments for broader surveillance powers.

  • Copyrights

    • MPAA ‘Softens’ Movie Theater Anti-Piracy Policy, Drops Bounty

      The MPAA has issued an updated version of its best practices for the prevention of movie piracy in theaters. While much remains the same, theater managers are no longer required to call the police for every incident. In addition, the long-standing pirate hunting bounty program has disappeared.

    • Microsoft Lobbying Group Forces ‘Pirate’ To Get 200,000 Views On Anti-Piracy Video… Whole Thing Backfires

      The history of anti-piracy activities by the legacy entertainment and software industries always seems to focus on the mistaken idea that if only the public were “more educated” piracy would magically go away. That’s never been true. In fact, nearly every attempt at an education campaign hasn’t just failed to work, it’s often actively backfired and been mocked and parodied. And yet, if you talk to politicians and industry folks, they still seem to think that “more education” will magically work next time. One can only wonder what the hell the geniuses at the Software Alliance (the BSA — which used to be the “Business Software Alliance” but has dropped the “Business” part, but not the “B” in its name) were thinking when they decided to “settle” with a guy who apparently uploaded some Microsoft software in the Czech Republic. The terms of the settlement required him to take part in a “professionally produced” anti-piracy video and that the video needed to get 200,000 views on YouTube or he might face having to pay damages in court.

      The BSA is a well-known front for Microsoft, and has a long history of rather ridiculous claims about “piracy,” so I guess it’s little surprise that it’s now engaged in out and out propaganda, but done so badly that it’s turned the whole thing into a laughingstock. The whole “compelled speech” aspect of the settlement, including the requirement to get so many views, strikes basically everyone as ridiculous and stupid.

    • German Museum Sues Wikimedia Foundation Over Photos Of Public Domain Works Of Art

      The mission of museums and art galleries is generally to spread knowledge and appreciation of beautiful and interesting objects. So it’s rather sad when they start taking legal action against others that want to help them by disseminating images of public domain works of art to a wider audience. This obsession with claiming “ownership” of something as immaterial as the copyright in a photograph of a work of art made centuries ago led the UK National Portrait Gallery (NPG) to threaten Derrick Coetzee, a software developer, when he downloaded images from the NPG and added them to Wikimedia Commons, the media repository for Wikipedia, of which he was an administrator.


Željko Topić Tries to Do to EPO Staff What He Did in Croatia, Now Crushes Staff Assembly in The Hague

Posted in Europe, Patents at 9:55 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The poetic irony in The Hague, home of the ICC where a person who is accused of crimes does not relent but persists with bad behaviour

The Hague International Criminal Court
The International Criminal Court (ICC). Author/photographer: Vincent van Zeijst

Summary: Reminder to European Patent Office (EPO) staff that the EPO’s management has a history of union-busting and serious violations of the rules; a call to join protests later today and later this week

THE management of the EPO is once again going to witness the ‘horrifying’ — to managers — sight of its very own staff protesting against the management and the institution under current management. The staff does wish to destroy the EPO, it is pursuing a fix. Anyone with some common sense can see that a fix is sorely needed at many levels and in many areas.

The EPO scandals now make the mainstream media in Europe and it’s even in English for a change (this was published some hours ago). Well, my jaw was on the floor when I read a statement from the EPO saying: “As a European public organisation the EPO fully respects freedom of the press as a core value of an open society” (there are other funny statements like “the EPO has a duty of care for its staff, who are its primary responsibility” or “all necessary measures to protect its staff and their families”). Ladies and gentlemen, let’s pick up our collective jaws and carry on… Eric Arthur Blair must already be turning in his grave.

“Anyone with some common sense can see that a fix is sorely needed at many levels and in many areas.”A staff protest is imminent. The protest is going to take place later today. We strongly encourage all staff to attend the protest in order to discourage union-busting and also media SLAPP-ing. Over the weekend we showed why it was really just shameless SLAPP (see our responses to legal letters) and a war for silencing reporters or critics (a long-held tradition at the EPO). We are not trying to take away from the focus (or steal the thunder) of protecting staff representatives, just to cover an additional angle. See this thread in IP Kat, in particular comments further down* which refer to SLAPP against Techrights and say “In the past it seems that he has had much better luck in other jurisdictions … ” (alluding to the Croatian affairs)

From what we can gather, Željko Topić most likely demanded an ‘apology’ (before he lost his court case) — the very same thing that the EPO tried to get out of me, under legal pressure and threats. Later on Battistelli linked to this (quite likely forced) ‘apology’ as ‘proof’ that Topić was innocent, as we covered here many months ago. This is a familiar modus operandi after what Techrights experienced.

“Later on Battistelli linked to this (quite likely forced) ‘apology’ as ‘proof’ that Topić was innocent, as we covered here many months ago. This is a familiar modus operandi after what Techrights experienced.”Why do we mention Topić again (other than him being mentioned in new comments)? Well, Vice-President Topić, with his dubious legal status, several criminal charges (in Croatia) and previous efforts to crush EPO protests (in the name of ‘security’, as if pushing people to the side of the road would make them any more secure), refused to give authorisation for a General Assembly of EPO staff in The Hague (that’s not today but last week). What was coined “Balkan standards” is now coming to The Hague then?

Remember how the EPO was trying to characterise (in the media at least) the latest massive staff protests as violent? Well, here we go again. We are gratified to have obtained details of how Topić was attempting to crush last week’s peaceful assembly (if not today’s protest too). Here are the raw details.

“Remember how the EPO was trying to characterise (in the media at least) the latest massive staff protests as violent?”“For your information,” our source told us, correspondence, was leaked. “Controversial EPO Vice-President Željko Topić,” we’ve been told, “recently refused to give authorisation for a General Assembly of EPO staff in the Hague which was scheduled to take place on 24 November 2015.” [that's last week]

More details can be found below.

“Mr. Topić had already made quite a name for himself as a “union-buster” back in 2007 in his then role as Director-General of the Croatian State Intellectual Property Office.”

Here is a translation of an article from Croatia, showing Topić’s extensive ‘experience’ attacking staff (emphasis in yellow is ours):


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

STATE INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY OFFICE: Bullying of “unwanted” civil servants

(SDLSN, 20 November) During the last month, staff at the State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) have addressed a number of petitions to the various Government bodies and staff unions, accusing Mr. Željko Topić, M.Sc. of bullying and other unlawful and arbitrary actions.

Jadranka Oklobdžija
Staff union representative, Ms. Jadranka Oklobdžija warned that Mr. Topic neglected to carry out an assessment of his subordinates for three years in a row, thus denying them the rights arising from their assessment.

The reason for such a reaction on the part of civil servants and the representative of the local branch of the staff union SDLSN, Ms. Jadranka Oklobdžija, is the manner in which Mr. Topić is running the Office. The last straw was the decision on the establishment of an “expert working unit” tasked with the design and implementation of the SIPO project entitled “The selection and storage of non-administrative mail” at a separate location remote from the Office headquarters in Savska 118.

The civil servants and the local branch of the staff union accuse the Director of having established this “expert working unit” in breach of the provisions of the current Regulation on the Internal Organization of the SIPO, where there is no mention of any such units. They also question the appropriateness of this ostentatiously named project, because despite the fact that the new unit has been set up to deal with archive materials, it is located at a site remote from the main office where the archive materials are stored.

That there is something wrong with this project of Mr. Topić is indicated by the fact that, according to its head, all of the people appointed to this “expert working unit” (10 in total) are “from other sectors and departments, mostly people against whom Mr. Topić bears a personal grudge for whatever reason or those who have been on sick leave for longer periods.”

The members of this “punishment battalion” are afraid that it is being used as a way to remove them from their current positions for which they still have valid civil service appointments. They fear that “Commandant” Topić’s plan is to declare them redundant which could result in the cancellation of their civil service status.

That their fears may be justified is evidenced by the fact that Mr. Topić has submitted an amended Regulation on the Internal Organization of the SIPO, which provides for reduction of positions by about 15 percent, to the Central State Office for Administration for prior approval.

Željko Topić
Mr. Topić came up with an original method for getting rid of “unwanted” civil servants – assign them to a pointless project and isolate them from the State institution until they can be disposed of.

However, at the same time as these “unwanted” civil servants isolated in inadequate working facilities at a site remote from the SIPO headquarters are waiting to see what will happen to them, the SIPO Director seems to be in the process of recruiting new employees in the area of documentation management, i.e. the very task for which the “expert working unit” was formed. Two new prospective employees are due to be assessed on 22nd November, i.e. this Thursday.

Apart from the violation and complete disregard for all the applicable civil service regulations, Mr. Topic is also in breach of the provisions of the Collective Agreement for civil servants which expressly prohibits the transfer of a staff union representative to another position within the same Government body and imposes an obligation on the management of State bodies to engage in prior consultation with local staff unions in relation to the adoption of any regulations affecting the labour rights of civil servants, such as the Regulation on the Internal Organization of the SIPO.

In view of the above issues, the staff union intends to report this violation of the Collective Agreement to the Joint Commission responsible for monitoring application of the Agreement which has an obligation to inform the Government about the adoption of such regulations, and, if the violations of staff rights continue, to file a criminal complaint against Mr. Topić.

In the meantime, the inspectorate of the Central State Office for Administration should conduct an administrative audit of the SIPO in order to clarify the situation from the perspective of the competent inspection body.

The staff union is also urging the Croatian Government not to accept the amendments to the Regulation on the Internal Organization of the State SIPO until all the relevant facts regarding the legality of the actions of Mr. Topic and the exercise of his functions as Director of the SIPO have been established.

Notice from the above how similar it is to what the EPO is currently doing, with some variations here and there. It makes one wonder if Battistelli’s recruitment/addition of Topić to his team was like an acquisition of staff-crushing assets. Here is the E-mail exchange with Mr Topić concerning SUEPO’s request to hold a General Assembly in The Hague on the 24th of November, 2015.

It starts as follows:

From: ….
Sent: Friday, November 18, 2015 6:43 PM
To: VP4 OFFICE; Zeljko Topic
Cc: ….
Subject: RE: general assembly of staff in The Hague

Dear Mr Topić,

Please be informed that the SUEPO Committee of The Hague intends to organise a general assembly of staff on Tuesday 24 November 2015 at 11.30 in EPO premises (room to be defined), in particular to allow staff in The Hague to express solidarity with their Staff representatives.

We look forward to your answer,

On behalf of the Committee of SUEPO‐TH

A… R…


PS: I have copied (Facility Management) for information

Remember that was the time shortly after the crushing of staff representatives.

Here is a relatively sensitive response from the man who many people internally refer to as “Putin”:

From: ….
On Behalf Of Zeljko Topic
Sent: Thursday, November 19, 2015 4:24 PM
To: ….
Subject: RE: general assembly of staff in The Hague

Dear Mr R…,

I take note of your request, sent to me in your capacity as Chairman of SUEPO The Hague. May I ask you to please clarify the agenda and purpose of this all staff General Assembly, which, you are hereby reminded, can be held for topics of general interest to all staff and not to discuss specific ongoing individual procedures.

Željko Topić
Vice‐President DG 4

Reply was as follows:

From: ….
Sent: Friday, November 19, 2015 4:51 PM
To: VP4 OFFICE; Zeljko Topic
Cc: ….
Subject: RE: general assembly of staff in The Hague

Dear Mr Topić,

The general assembly is intended to:
‐ Show solidarity of staff with their Staff representatives (as already mentioned)
‐ Report about the latest changes planned at the EPO (eg tax adjustment reform)
‐ Possibly adopt a resolution of SUEPO members

We look forward to your quick answer,

On behalf of the Committee of SUEPO‐TH

A… R…


PS: I copy (Facility Management) for information

Although nothing insensitive was said, two days have passed and not a word, so then comes another message:

From: ….
Sent: Friday, November 20, 2015 2:40 PM
To: VP4 OFFICE; Zeljko Topic
Cc: ….
Subject: RE: general assembly of staff in The Hague

Dear Mr Topić,

We are at a loss to understand why it takes so long to authorize our general assembly. Could you please answer this second reminder before 15.30. Should the EPO refuse to allow the meeting, SUEPO has to organise it outside the EPO, with associated costs and a need to book a big room.

Thank you for letting us know before 15.30 today whether you authorise the General Assembly.

On behalf of the Committee of SUEPO‐TH

A… R…


PS: I copy (Facility Management) for information

Now comes rudeness:

From: ….
On Behalf Of Zeljko Topic
Sent: Friday, November 20, 2015 3:43 PM
To: ….
Subject: RE: general assembly of staff in The Hague

Dear Mr R…,

May I begin by drawing your attention to the fact that I do not appreciate you imposing any ultimatum on me, especially considering that in both your emails you fail to provide the requisite clarity.

What you have provided to me so far does not appear to fulfil the requirements for a General Assembly for all staff, which can be approved for topics of general interest and for all staff (not SUEPO members only) and should certainly not turn out to be a full on demonstration held on the premises of the Office.

You will understand that I must exercise proper duty of care in this respect and evaluate all possible safety and security issues, also taking into account the experience of violent demonstrations organised in The Hague in the recent past. Finally, I reiterate here that any affair concerning an individual staff member or specific administrative procedures, is subject to strict confidentiality and the Office has a duty to take all measures to protect the Office’s and the specific staff member’s interests alike.

Given these circumstances, your request cannot be approved.

Željko Topić

Vice‐President DG 4

See the pattern again? He speaks of “experience of violent demonstrations organised in The Hague in the recent past.” These have nothing to do with EPO and probably have more to do with fairly radical causes. Perhaps that’s where the bogus allegations of “violence” come from. It’s imaginary.

Here is a prompt reply (just half an hour later):

From: ….
Sent: Friday, November 20, 2015 4:26 PM
To: Zeljko Topic; VP4 OFFICE
Cc: ….
Subject: RE: general assembly of staff in The Hague

Dear Mr Topić,

I do not appreciate your disingenuousness and lack of courtesy. I have made a request according to the rules, in good time, so as to be able to hold a General Assembly next Tuesday. It is your duty to answer within a reasonable time so as not to frustrate our right of peaceful assembly through inertia.

This was not an ultimatum. It was a second reminder, and implied an expectation that you, too, follow protocol. You now refuse to allow a legitimate Union, SUEPO, to gather peacefully for its own purposes. You seem to ignore or wilfully to breach the fundamental rights involved in the freedom of association, which is enshrined even in Article 30 of our Service Regulations.

This is yet another act of censorship that is duly noted and will be presented in Court. Further, you will have to justify yourself before the Administrative Council, who will be informed forthwith of your decision.

With consternation and determination,

On behalf of the Committee of SUEPO-TH

A… R…


This is rightly being called an “act of censorship” (one of many in the EPO) and people need to remember the history of Topić's war against the legitimacy of a widely-supported (by a lot of staff members) union.

“We hope that many people will attend these protests to make the management aware that it is vastly outnumbered in this war.”Several protests are coming to different cities. We hope that many people will attend these protests to make the management aware that it is vastly outnumbered in this war. We will write about protests and translate articles afterwards, to the extent that we can.

“Actions continue at the European Patent Office,” SUEPO’s site said on Monday, revealing that “The next demonstrations will take place on:

  • Tuesday 01 December, starting at 12:00, In front of the Dutch Ministry of Economy in The Hague.
  • Friday 04 December, starting at 12.30h in front of the Isar building in Munich.

“With these demonstrations staff protests against the persistent attacks on its staff representatives, culminating in the suspension of and disciplinary procedures against 3 Union officials in Munich.”

“Please attend to defend staff because this attack on representatives is an attack on everyone.”So there is a staff protest starting at 12:00 today. We have known about it for a while, but decided not to spoil the element of surprise, which makes it hard — strategically — for EPO management to derail it. Please attend to defend staff because this attack on representatives is an attack on everyone. It’s a classic 'decapitation' strategy.

Here are some more details about these protests, especially the first one. A protest of all staff is to start today at midday, not to be confused with the General Assembly planned for Tuesday the 24th of November at 11:40, as initially planned (at “De Broodfabriek”, situated in Volmerlaan 12, Rijswijk). Here is the message published at the time:

Dear SUEPO members, dear Colleagues,

Following the recent events described in our earlier paper “Witch hunting against SUEPO officials and Staff representatives” we timely requested from Mr Topić, VP4, the authorisation to hold a General Assembly in the EPO premises, in accordance with the rules in force in the EPO “social democracy”. On Friday afternoon, after two reminders, VP4 finally turned down our request, shamelessly breaching the freedom of association of staff.

We have thus booked a large meeting room outside the EPO, “De Broodfabriek” one block away from the Rijsvoort building, at about 10 mn walking distance from the other EPO buildings. Address: Volmerlaan 12, 2288GD, Rijswijk (map below). On the agenda:

  • Feedback about the above mentioned events
  • Solidarity with your Staff representatives in The Hague & Munich
  • Legal actions from our lawyers
  • Forthcoming demo in The Hague
  • AoB

The GA is taking place outside block time (10:00-11:30; 14:00-15:00) to allow for your safe participation. It should end around 12:30 at the latest, but we will remain available for discussion and questions after that time.


That was about a expression of dissent (not protest) which was effectively postponed by one week (when time is precious because people are already suspended). The document cited in this statement says the following in order to provide some background to the uninitiated (the names of the people were already named in the media and there is no danger of retaliation, given that unions are already under attack):

Witch-hunt against SUEPO officials and staff representatives

Dear SUEPO members, dear colleagues,

Yesterday we informed you about the events that, last Friday, caused Jesús Areso and Laurent Prunier to fall sick. Their respective physicians have confirmed the illness. Apparently not content with the result, the Office yesterday had the audacity to send a “medical controller” to their respective homes; they are now both summoned for a visit with the Medical Adviser. As if Jesus and Laurent were pretending to be sick. After making them sick, now they question whether they are sick? Or maybe the Office does not trust its own OHS? It is not yet clear who initiated this process, but it is a disgrace, and intolerable. We are informed that the lawyers are already “on it”. Laurent and Jesus are very grateful for the expressions of solidarity and offers of support.

Meanwhile, in Munich, all hell has broken loose. No less than 3 staff reps/union officials (Elizabeth Hardon, Ion Brumme, Malika Weaver) have been suspended on what we understand to be vexatious grounds, notwithstanding the President’s propaganda. The security guards are receiving orders in real time to prevent colleagues to hang out posters and to remove the ones that have been already hung up. In actual fact, we have from very reliable sources that the Office is already contacting the press to launch a PR campaign.

Why this, why now? The timing is suspect. This week, the Board 28 gathers to discuss the social aspects of the EPO – read: the famous “social study”. An honest social audit would be disastrous for Battistelli. He MUST someway create waves to block it. Going on the offensive, attacking those that gave cause to the Council to consider the audit, is his strategy.

If you are outraged, scared or feel sick, you are normal. Time has come to give Battistelli and his crew a clear message: enough is enough. This management by “fear, isolation and punishment” has to stop.

What are YOU going to do? You can write personally to your country’s representative in the Council, urging them to take responsibility for the governance of the Office. You can address your hierarchical line with clear demands to be channeled upwards (it is about time Directors take some responsibility). You can create or join support groups. You can prepare actions to support your staff reps who risk being sacked. Just use your imagination, act – and let us know what you did.

Your SUEPO Committe The Hague

We now know more about the media campaign that we heard about last week. External media people are co-opted and there is propaganda in the making, regardless of the staff’s widely-held views, even in the Central Staff Committee [1, 2]. It’s not just SUEPO and its members. It’s almost everybody, except perhaps people who are too afraid to show solidarity for their colleagues. Nearly a week ago someone sent us the following petition, stating the legal basis for supporting the unions. It’s a petition in support of staff representatives Elizabeth Hardon, Malika Weaver, and Ion Brumme, who according to the petition “have been suspended on Tuesday 17 November 2015 and will be subject to a disciplinary procedure soon.”

The petition states:

We fail to understand how the misconduct(s) alleged against them could be of a nature incompatible with their continuing in service (Article 95 ServRegs). They seem to have been targeted because they are very committed staff representatives and also prominent SUEPO executives.

We, the undersigned, consider the decision to suspend them utterly unfair and undemocratic. We hereby request that their suspension be lifted and any disciplinary procedures against them immediately stopped.

The likes of Topić want to destroy good people as part of their 'decapitation' strategy. See how even illness is used — if not shamelessly exploited — as a pretext for crushing staff in both cases (compare to the aforementioned article from Croatian media). Topić has experience from Croatia and later this month we will show more EPO exploitation of illnesses (if not deaths in the family) to crush unions. If the representatives are not successfully defended, it will only increase fear and enable the management to crush people further down the chain. Remember that the EPO contracted some union busters from England. These people are ‘professionals’. But it doesn’t mean they’re unbeatable. Making the staff actually believe that the staff is powerless and unable to resist is perhaps their strongest weapon.

“Making the staff actually believe that the staff is powerless and unable to resist is perhaps their strongest weapon.”The newest stuff that we’ve gotten a hold of includes further information about today’s protest. It follows some other recent actions. “Yesterday,” it says, “a massive General Assembly took place in The Hague: due to the Administration ban, it took place at 10 minutes walking distance from the Office, in a kind of concert hall which looked very packed with 800 to 1000 participants. Besides the acclaimed speeches a remarkable number intervention came from the floor calling for more concrete actions to support our colleagues. The call from the floor for a symbolic ONE DAY strike with maximum participation was greeted by a massive and unambiguous show of hands.”

The petition above too was mentioned: “As announced last week, a petition is circulating in Munich. The petition will be handed out to a notary to protect signatories from the risk of retaliation. Staff from all POEs are invited to join in and help collecting the signatures…”

Those who are interested will know where to drop the forms.

Under “Enemies everywhere” we too are mentioned, as noted here before. Examples are also mentioned as follows:

1. In the past months, the EPO President has made it abundantly clear that the EPO has many internal Enemies: potentially any staff members – hence the surveillance -, the Staff representation institutions – hence the limitations – and its representatives – hence the investigations and the disciplinary procedures.

2. In the past weeks, it was made clear that the EPO has enemies in the interested circles: Member States Delegations of the AC seem to have been threatened of consequences for their actions by the President. The exchange of letters last week has shown that elected national Parliament Members, like Mr. Le Borgn’, allegedly represent a threat to the organisation. This is new for the whole EPO history.

3. Since yesterday, it is becoming also clear that the enemies are everywhere, in the media and elsewhere: accordingly bloggers and even lawyers receive the same treatment of legal threats and intimidations…

One can wonder what the next step will be?

Now that the protest is imminent it is safer to publish details of today’s protest:



In front of the Dutch Ministry of Economy – The Hague

Dear Colleagues,

The social situation at the EPO keeps deteriorating. Mr Battistelli and Ms Bergot are attacking and determined to crush Staff representatives and SUEPO Officials. Three are suspended in Munich and are risking dismissal. Others are being targeted by vexatious acts to such extent that their health has suffered.

1000 staff members have already shown their support and solidarity on 24 November by gathering in a General Assembly outside the EPO premises (since Mr Topić had forbidden it
inside the Office). Staff in The Hague has sent a clear message to management. We must now continue to raise awareness with the Dutch authorities. The Netherlands are a country renowned for its Democratic tradition. The totalitarian practices now spreading in the EPO cannot be tolerated on Dutch soil.

We demand:

•Removal of all threats to all Staff representatives. Those suspended should be reintegrated at once;

•Urgent labour inspection of the EPO by the Dutch Arbeidsinpectie, or other agency accredited to the Dutch government, in conformity with the Art. 20 of the EPO PPI (Protocol on Privileges and Immunities);

SUEPO in Munich will organise also a demo on 10 December, a few days ahead of the Administrative Council December meeting.

In The Hague, on Tuesday 1 December from 12:00, we will demonstrate in front of the “Ministerie van Economische Zaken”, Bezuidenhoutseweg 73, close to the Central Station, see map overleaf. EPO partners and pensioners are welcome to join!

Authorisation by the local authorities is in process. Gathering/starting point and detailed route are being finalised. We will keep you posted.

The logistics of it are probably known to many, so we shall omit them from the above. Techrights strongly supports these actions and hopes that this long articles helps convince more people to attend without assisting Team Battisteli in retaliatory actions.
* There is also an update there regarding Mr. Van der Eijk, who was the subject of rumours and speculations.

The Spanish EPO Scandal – Part I

Posted in Europe, Patents at 8:20 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

El Confidencial

Summary: How García-Escudero Marquez, the sister of a Spanish Senate speaker, got controversially appointed to succeed the (now) EPO’s Vice-President Alberto Casado Cerviño

THIS week we shall turn our attention to a potentially very interesting EPO story. In order to kick-start this series we must provide readers with some background, which means translating an article originally written in Spanish. It is, for the most part, self-explanatory. One just needs to know that Alberto Casado Cerviño is Vice-President of Directorate-General Operational Support at the EPO.

El Confidencial, 17.11.2011 – 06:00 H.

Industry [department] appoints Pío García Escudero’s sister before the application deadline ends

Ten days before the elections of 20 November, the director general of the Spanish Patent and Trademark Office, Alberto Casado Cerviño, appoints Patricia García-Escudero


Ten days before the general elections of 20 November [2011], the director-general of the Spanish Office for Patents and Trade-Marks, Alberto Casado Cerniño, appointed Patricia García-Escudero Marquez, the sister of the speaker of the [Partido Popular] in the senate, to a civil service position at the highest level. The post attributed is the one of deputy director of the department of Judicial Coordination and International Relations. The seriousness of the matter is that the legal delay was not respected, and the beneficiary’s name appeared of the organisational chart of the entity even though the deadline for applications won’t expire until next Tuesday [22 November 2011].

The vacancy notice which led to García-Escudero’s appointment was published 1 November and provided 15 working days for filing applications. The appointment announcement of the new deputy director who will lead the communications department, dependent on the Presidential Support Unit, managing one of four departments of the Spanish Patents and Trademarks Office, occurred however last Thursday [10 November 2011].

The cat got out of the bag as the Sevach blog on public law, which explained how all positions with open selection are actually a “chronicle of a job award foretold”. The director of the public company [sic - they mean the SPTO] which is subordinated to the Department of Industry, Commerce and Tourism designated a person related to the [Partido Popular] precisely at the time when polls show [Partido Popular politician] Mariano Rajoy as the winner of the elections coming next Sunday [against the PSOE incumbent José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero].

In this specific case, the qualifications required to lead the Department of Judicial Coordination and International Relations required a superior command of English and French, but a degree in Law wasn’t deemed essential. Patricia García-Escudera holds a diploma in Biology from the Complutense University in Madrid. Furthermore, the call for applications demanded preferably experience in communications and marketing. Coincidentally, the sister of the [Partido Popular] speaker in the senate came from the public relations department of the [SPTO]. “Computer skills” are also demanded for this high-ranking position for which any civil servant can apply for, but without requiring any corresponding university diploma.

50,000 Euros gross salary per year plus productivity bonus

The position for which Casado Cerviño appointed García-Escudero comes with a specific allowance of 24,332 Euros to which should be added the A-category allowance (13,935 Euros plus 535 euros every three years) as well as the allowance for belonging to level 30, at the top of the scale (11,625 Euros). In addition to this gross annual salary received, a productivity bonus will be included, dependent on the specific personal contract. In many positions of the same category this can often exceed 1,000 Euros per month.

If this favour to the [Partido Popular] isn’t enough for Casado Cerviño to keep his directorial job in case of a change of government, his son Alberto Casado Fernándes will sit on 30 November the fourth selection examination for admission of qualified professionals at the autonomous bodies dependent on the entity where his father works.

Context will be provided in future parts of this series, so stay tuned and protect our right to free speech, e.g. by attending staff protests. It reminds us of the story of Bergot’s controversial appointment, which we covered earlier this month (see part one, part two, part three, and part four of “EPO: It’s Like a Family Business“).

“No government can love a child, and no policy can substitute for a family`s care.”

Hillary Clinton

Media Alert: IAM ‘Magazine’ Does Not Protect Sources

Posted in Europe, Microsoft, Patents at 7:38 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: An important discussion regarding the role of IAM (Intellectual Asset Management) in the debate about EPO abuses

TWO days ago we wrote two articles which mentioned how IAM had put at risk a source, despite repeatedly being asked not to do so. It didn’t exactly shock us because we generally view IAM as a pro-patent Establishment (USPTO, EPO management, software patents, large corporations) site. Sharing evidence with them is unwise. There was an article earlier this month (from AOL) titled “Innovating In A World Of Patent Lawsuits”; well, in the view of the likes of IAM, it’s all about “Profiting In A World Of Patent Lawsuits”. The more, the merrier. That’s how they make money.

Why do we write this article? It’s just a word of warning to anyone who deems IAM trustworthy. The EPO is now spending of nearly a million dollars on the media. IAM writers already have a history of receiving money from the EPO, by their own admission.

“It’s just a word of warning to anyone who deems IAM trustworthy.”We already saw IAM relaying EPO management’s talking points. That was a month and a half ago, only two weeks after the EPO had passed around the contract involving the million-dollar contract. The article that IAM published at the time was basically a sort of EPO ‘damage control’, replying to my allegations about preferential treatment of selected large corporations. That was very shortly before the EPO sent me nastygrams — something which IAM dropped hints of (days before it actually happened). The EPO spokesperson said something which only served to insinuate “defamation”. Remember that what I wrote at the time wasn’t inaccurate, it was just strongly-worded. This whole EPO program was created for Microsoft because of Microsoft (EPO effectively, on the balance of probabilities, changed its rules in exchange for Microsoft paying a lot more money in the form of patent applications).

I asked someone in the legal community if IAM was likely doing all of this internationally or even maliciously. “Although you may be right,” I was told, “I’d be personally a little surprised if IAM betrayed a confidential source; Joff Wild is no lover of TechRights, which is a matter of common knowledge…”

Regarding evidence that we shared with IAM (potentially but not necessarily including details about a source), we made some further inquiries as well. We were asked: “Can you be sure that IAM has not received the original documents via another source?”

“It effectively served material to Team Battistelli, on a silver platter, by publishing what I repeatedly told them must not be published.”The item that the EPO was bullying me (with legal threats) over was definitely not provided by another source. I can’t tell for sure if IAM was acting as some kind of courier for the EPO’s management here, but it’s not impossible. It effectively served material to Team Battistelli, on a silver platter, by publishing what I repeatedly told them must not be published.

For those who wonder what this was all about, the gist of the blog post in dispute is as follows:

  • Microsoft uses patent extortion — or racketeering as per RICO Act — to coerce companies (at least 4 companies so far this year) into Microsoft’s Linux-hostile agenda. There are threats of litigation or actual litigation at hand (with conditional settlement) to achieve this. It’s a subject Techrights has been covering extensively since 2006.
  • Microsoft pressured the EPO into the whole preferential treatment farce. We know this for sure.
  • An EPO employee is shown in his (leaked) E-mail pressuring those below him to concentrate on granting patents to Microsoft (before all others), thereby helping Microsoft against European companies like TomTom (see the 2009 lawsuit and ‘settlement’).
  • This EPO employee has been publicly promoting the UPC, despite his job being the granting of worthy patent monopolies (proper, thorough prior art search, never too rushed), not setting or lobbying on matters of law.

That’s all stuff that we can support with concrete evidence, hence I stand by what I said. They just caught me off guard at (almost) midnight on a Friday. My solicitor’s response explains why that’s an act of trickery.

It will be interesting to see if IAM has something to say on this matter. Judging by the many tweets they sent our way yesterday, they still don’t have a very effective rebuttal.

Richard Stallman and Eben Moglen on the Microsoft-Red Hat Deal

Posted in FSF, Microsoft, Patents, Red Hat at 6:56 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Richard Stallman and Eben Moglen
Photo source: Professor Conrad Johnson

Summary: Founder of Free software and author of the GPL (respectively) comment on what Microsoft and Red Hat have done regarding patents

WE FINALLY GOT some feedback regarding the baffling patent agreement which seemingly affects every user of GNU/Linux. We got this feedback from Stallman and (indirectly) Moglen, two of the Free software world’s most prominent individuals, especially when it comes to the GPL (GNU Public Licence/License).

Coverage of the Red Hat-Microsoft patent agreement can be found in [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13]. We sought feedback from Red Hat and spoke to low(er) level people for weeks, without ever hearing back from high-level management. After weeks of trying and waiting we ended up asking legal professionals to examine whatever legal contracts — even if under NDA or some other secrecy clauses that legally-binding deals may have — were involved. We first wrote to the FSF as follows:

Dear FSF licensing folks,

As discussed earlier in IRC (freenode), I have been pursuing answers from Red Hat regarding an urgent matter. I previously interviewed their CEO regarding patents and last week I spoke to a fairly senior person from Red Hat (unnamed for his own protection), for the third time this month. I wrote about 10 articles on this subject and it led to others writing about it as well, including some prominent bloggers.

“We need to understand what Red Hat agreed on with Microsoft on as Microsoft can use this behind closed doors against other companies, for pressure/leverage.”To put it concisely, Red Hat signed a deal with Microsoft which not only involved technical work but also what they call patent “standstill”. Who is this “standstill” for? Apparently Red Hat and its customers. I strongly doubt, especially in light of Alice v. CLS Bank, that a “standstill” should be needed. Red Hat does not threaten to sue Microsoft, whereas Microsoft did in the past threaten Red Hat (even publicly). This leaves those outside Red Hat in an awkward position and ever since this deal I have taken note of at least two companies being coerced by Microsoft using patents (over “Android” or “Linux” [sic]) or sued by one of its patent trolls, e.g. Intellectual Ventures. This isn’t really a “standstill”. It’s more like the notorious “peace of mind” that Novell was after back in 2006.

Red Hat has also admitted to me that it is still pursuing some software patents in the USPTO — a fact that does not surprising me, especially given the soaring market cap of RHT and the growing budget. This serves to contradict what people like Rob Tiller say to the courts; it shows double standards and no principled lead by example.

“The analysis and the voice of the FSF may be needed at this stage.”I have asked the FSF’s Joshua if it had looked into the patent agreement between Red Hat and Microsoft. Their lawyers in this case, Mr. Piana and Mr. Tiller (probably amongst others whom we don’t know about yet), would probably claim and even insist that it’s GPL-compatible, but the wording in the FAQ make it look exclusionary and there’s no transparency, so one cannot verify these claims.

We need to understand what Red Hat agreed on with Microsoft on as Microsoft can use this behind closed doors against other companies, for pressure/leverage. I am genuinely worried and fellow journalists who focus on GNU/Linux (Sean Michael Kerner for instance) tell me that they are too.

The analysis and the voice of the FSF may be needed at this stage. I have politely urged Red Hat for a number of weeks to become more transparent, whereupon some in the company said they had escalated these requests, but evidently nothing is being done, hence I feel the need to turn to the FSF.

I would gladly provide additional information that I have upon request.

With kind regards,

“In concrete terms,” Stallman responded, “what did they agree to do?”

“It is effectively a technical collaboration,” I told him, “which also involves a ceasefire regarding patents.”

“It is impossible to discuss whether it is good or bad,” he said, “until we know what it is.”

“We know too little about the patent aspects,” I explained.

Referring to Red Hat’s FAQ, Stallman said that I “seem[ed] to be talking about text I [Stallman] have not seen.”

To quote the relevant part for readers:

4. Does the new partnership address patents?

Red Hat and Microsoft have agreed to a limited patent arrangement in connection with the commercial partnership for the benefit of mutual customers.

The heart of the arrangement is a patent standstill that provides that neither company will pursue a patent lawsuit or claim against the other or its customers, while we are partnering. Neither company acknowledged the validity or enforceability of the other’s intellectual property; it is not a patent license or a covenant not to sue and no payment was made or will be made for intellectual property.

The partnership is between commercial companies related to their common customer offerings, spurred by customer demand. Both parties carefully designed for FOSS licensing compliance in building the arrangement and each party’s relationship to the FOSS community stands on its own.

“Covering only customers and not downstream users,” Stallman said, “it is not a good thing, but it may not do a lot of harm.”

“Covering only customers and not downstream users is not a good thing, but it may not do a lot of harm.”
      –Richard Stallman
I responded by saying “I hope that a thorough look into it will help remove uncertainty and get some hard answers. Right now it’s too vague or me and some fellow developers to conclude anything from.”

Days ago I asked whether “there been any progress on this case” because “I just want[ed] to be sure that licensing is looking for answers regarding the matter.”

Stallman, by that stage, seemed to have already spoken to a colleague and friend. “Eben Moglen,” he explained, “told me it doesn’t violate GPLv3. Other than getting that information, I don’t know what progress we could hope for.”

Well, as GPLv3 co-authors, their take on this sure counts. We therefore got an answer without taking a look at the contract itself (they had made access to it highly privileged information).

Assuming the case won’t go any further than this, we believe it helps set the record straight on the Microsoft-Red Hat situation.

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