Summary: The EPO’s ‘communication’ campaign is coming along nicely, with staff that is unable (not allowed) to criticise the EPO’s nefarious agenda, writers that are are indirectly paid by the EPO, and opportunistic patent lawyers that encircle the system like hungry vultures
“In stark contrast to this,” wrote one commenter today, “is the proposal of the European patent Office to forbid all former employees to continue their lives with a job in IP, pensioners and younger employees alike.”
Well, EPO patent examiners can, as Florian Müller pointed out last year, start a long and fulfilling career outside the field of so-called ‘IP’ (misnomer for patents as IP is a vague term that alludes to all sorts of things).
“Come on now,” one person responded to the above. “not all former employees. If you are a buddy of BB [Battistelli] then you’ll be all right … no restrictions will apply.”
Remember our recent discovery about prohibitions on free speech by some former EPO staff. Team Battistelli has been actively trying to suppress messages contrary to its agenda, including the UPC. Even people who leave the EPO are being subjected to gags. One might expect it from history’s most oppressive regimes; well, that’s the EPO.
“Team Battistelli has been actively trying to suppress messages contrary to its agenda, including the UPC.”“In a nutshell,” this one new article claimed today, “the new Spanish Patents Act will introduce a number of changes, both in prosecution and enforcement proceedings.” No mention of the UPC, which the Spanish historically resisted (and the Spanish language is being discriminated against — a subject of future articles of ours).
Will the UPC ever become a reality at all? That’s still an uncertainty, but Battistelli and patent lawyers try to induce defeatism by stating that it’s inevitable and just a matter of time. Germany is still not accepting it, so the EPO’s mouthpieces at IAM keep trying to shame it into it (we gave another example of it earlier today). There are even worse things going on at IAM at the moment*.
The German Parliament unambiguously opposes software patents, yet German patent lawyers pretend not to be seeing these unambiguous statements. They hope to exploit confusion and expand the scope of patents, though they’re even disputed by other patent lawyers [1, 2, 3, 4].
“Will the UPC ever become a reality at all? That’s still an uncertainty, but Battistelli and patent lawyers try to induce defeatism by stating that it’s inevitable and just a matter of time.”Not only in Twitter do we find these patent boosters, who are almost always patent lawyers. “I cover intellectual property issues to prevent IP horror stories,” wrote this one writer today. It’s just patent propaganda from a so-called ‘IP’ person at the billionaires’ propaganda mill, Forbes. This is just a bunch of patent lawyers and ‘IP’ people having a ‘circlejerk’ (pardon the term) framed as an in-depth article about Alice. They are a bunch of people who work for massive corporations (like those which Forbes glorifies on a daily basis), framing patents as necessary for what’s called “entrepreneurs”. █
* Joff Wild, writing at the (indirectly) EPO-funded IAM ‘magazine’, now sucks up to a famous proponent of software patents and an abusive patent aggressor (likely antitrust violator) called Qualcomm, which IAM dubbed “one of our IP personalities of the year.” We already showed how IAM organised an event for trolls (having been paid by some of the world’s nastiest trolls) and IAM ‘magazine’ now gives an award to a patent troll and defends these indefensible actions. According to this new report, patent trolls are a growing problem even in 2015. “According to a report by Unified Patents,” said the unnamed author, “an organisation that claims to fight ‘patent trolls’, published yesterday, January 4, NPEs were responsible for 66% of all infringement claims filed in US courts, an increase on last year’s figure of 61%. High-tech patents accounted for the majority of cases (64%) asserted in US courts. Following an overall drop in the number of claims filed in 2014 compared to 2013, the year 2015 saw infringement claims asserted at US courts rise by 14% compared with last year. In 2015, 5,769 cases were filed compared to 5,045 in 2014. More than 3,000 of the claims filed in 2015 were from NPEs.”
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Well, pray tell what Microsoft was thinking when it came up with this latest (‘privacy’ themed) PR charade
Summary: More of the patently ridiculous claims that Microsoft combats state-sponsored attacks are being further disseminated by corporate media
The newest PR strategy of some Internet-centric companies, fitting the privacywashing pattern*, is something along the lines of “will inform users of/about state-sponsored attacks” (Twitter, for instance, made a lot of positive coverage for itself this way). Microsoft inevitably joins in, probably in an effort to garner some positive coverage for itself, however ridiculously and opportunistically.
The LA Times, which based on recent revelations occasionally authors its articles with help from the CIA (i.e. helping to promote the agenda of Deep State, like those who used US-sponsored attacks and Brennan-supported efforts to crack the PCs of US Senate members who had probed CIA torture), has just pushed out there to the broad public Microsoft’s propaganda, based on Microsoft’s lobbying blog (that’s what this blog really is). How pathetic is that? It’s not journalism, it’s lobbying amplified. To quote the LA Times, “Microsoft pledged on Wednesday to notify people with Microsoft accounts (which include Outlook.com emails and OneDrive) if it believes those accounts have been targeted or hacked by people working on behalf of a nation or state.”
“It’s not journalism, it’s lobbying amplified.”To quote Microsoft’s lobbyists: “We already notify users if we believe their accounts have been targeted or compromised by a third party, and we provide guidance on measures users can take to keep their accounts secure. We’re taking this additional step of specifically letting you know if we have evidence that the attacker may be “state-sponsored” because it is likely that the attack could be more sophisticated or more sustained than attacks from cybercriminals and others. These notifications do not mean that Microsoft’s own systems have in any way been compromised.”
Well, “the question is,” XFaCE wrote in the
#techrights IRC channel, “why there are successful state-sponsored attack in the first place?” He was perhaps referring to back doors, which Microsoft deliberately creates for so-called ‘law enforcement’, with ‘terror’ as a convenient pretext.
As XFaCE put it, sarcastically, “don’t worry, trust Microsoft.”
“The same goes for those who cover Microsoft’s publicity stunt in Ireland (show trial) and so-called ‘secure’ facilities in Germany.”Microsoft helps state-sponsored attacks by Putin et al (attacks on Russian dissidents) and even by the US government (attacks against the entire world). Even NSA attacks against US citizens and perhaps many others, including members of Congress (who according to the latest developments came under surveillance for purely political purposes). Will Microsoft tell people about state-sponsored attacks that Microsoft itself is aiding?
Microsoft’s lobbyists are being laughable here. Those who help these lobbyists get out their message are not journalists or even stenographers. They’re what Stalin would have called “useful idiots”. The same goes for those who cover Microsoft’s publicity stunt in Ireland (show trial) and so-called ‘secure’ facilities in Germany.
There is a reason why the FBI’s Director has been silent about Microsoft’s ‘encryption’; there are back doors already (don’t forget CIPAV for instance). They have been there for a long time. As Micah Lee put it some days ago, “Recently Bought a Windows Computer? Microsoft Probably Has Your Encryption Key” (we covered this a long time ago). Microsoft Peter has already responded to this with an utterly ridiculous article (widely ridiculed on the Web and in forums). Microsoft cares about privacy and security like BP cares about the environment or like Microsoft “loves Linux” (baloney). █
* When companies that are among the worst privacy offenders try to paint themselves “privacy champions”, much like oil/coal companies try to undergo "greenwashing" treatment, whereby they’re viewed as friends of the Earth.
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History rewritten by Sugar Daddies
Summary: The media and reputation laundering campaign seems to be working, as the trampling on the European Patent Convention (regional treaty) continues unabated
THE leadership of the EPO has long been defended by IAM ‘magazine’ [1, 2, 3, 4, 5] and we are delighted to find some comments online which increasingly highlight this fact (IAM is now paid by FTI Consulting, for example, which is funded by the EPO to the tune of nearly $1,000,000). If Techrights more or less represents the views of Europeans (including software developers and scientists who work as patent examiners), sites like MIP or IAM probably more or less represent the views of the EPO management and patent lawyers (the patent microcosm).
IAM organised an event for patent trolls (as covered here before) and next up there is a pro-UPC event. IAM’s articles as of late are quite revealing. See the earlier part of this week’s article which refers to trolls as NPE’s and says “NPE’s embrace Europe – During 2015, a number of NPEs enjoyed positive results in the European courts, while many more decided to give the continent a try.” We wrote about this before and it is nothing to be celebrated. More interesting, however, was the later section of this article. There’s some text about patent thickets (SEP) and then comes the odd part about the EPO, which (as one ought to expect) is an echo of the EPO’s position. To quote Wild: “Daggers drawn at the EPO – As has been the case for at least the last decade or so, senior management and staff union SUEPO were at loggerheads during 2015 over changes to examiner working conditions and pay structures.”
These aren’t the main or principal concerns. It’s not about pay. The EPO’s management likes to paint this as a dispute over money, but the issues are far greater than this.
Going back to Wild, he wrote: “During this year, though, things took a decidedly nasty turn with accusation and counter-accusation about human rights abuses, suicides and intimidation. Unfortunately, there is no sign of the discord coming to an end, even though up to now SUEPO has proved singularly incapable of preventing or even modifying management plans.”
This is patently untrue, unless one takes Battistelli’s words as fact. We have already shown how texts got modified at the 90th minute due to unpopularity.
Wild says: “Most important to users of the office, though, are the quality of its output and the independence of the boards of appeal; and while there are no indications that the EPO’s standards are slipping, there seems to be a fair amount of concern about reforms being proposed to the boards.”
There is a lot of misdirection here. Quality of patents is being compromised, the independence of the boards has only come under more attacks (threatening to send it elsewhere isn’t about independence, as noted by various respected parties), there is definitely indication of standards slipping (we gave some examples) and what’s being euphemistically called “reforms” (to the boards) is as much about reform as union-busting is an ‘investigation’.
Don’t take our word (alone) for it. The staff of the EPO, commenting anonymously due to fear, is rather upset seeing what’s being done to the boards and other persecuted sections. As one comment put it yesterday, “I see we have the repeated ‘quality is ever better’. My sources tell me that EPO staff can see that their balanced scorecard shows all quality numbers for DG1 are worse in 2015 than in 2014 and those are BB’s [Battistelli's] own figures. Perhaps someone can confirm? Certainly the motto that if staff reach my targets I can’t be doing anything wrong is a bit sickening. And the ‘it’s only a minority’ must surely be wearing thin…”
Wild says: “At times during 2015 it felt as if EPO president Benoît Battistelli was losing control of the narrative.”
The use of the word narrative is odd, as if Battistelli is in a theatre play and needs to convince spectators that some illusion is in fact real. Like the majority of staff being on his side, which is total nonsense.
Wild says that Battistelli “will need to get it back during 2016 in order to provide the necessary confidence that the EPO is fully prepared for the central role it will play as Europe prepares for the biggest shake-up of its patent system for decades.”
This is some more UPC promotion from Wild. It’s that talking point which justifies radical policies (like a takeover or a coup) by saying there is some kind of “greater good”.
“What is clear,” Wild says, “is that an organisation that was created by and for experts in a time when no-one outside of that world cared about patents needs to fully embrace transparency.”
No, not only transparency is an issue. When an entity blames poor communication or lack of transparency for bad press/negative publicity, then that’s just convenient, shallow spin.
“Right now,” Wild says, “there is just too much about the office’s functioning and performance that outside eyes do not get to see. For the agency’s own sake, as well as for the good of its users, that has to change.”
The implied message here is that only the “experts” (as in “created by and for experts”) know and truly grasp the “functioning and performance that outside eyes do not get to see.” See? It’s a secret recipe. We “non-experts” just cannot understand it. Just leave it all to the “experts”… like those geniuses from ÉNA.
Wild proceeds to a whole section in promotion of the UPC, shaming Germany again for not (yet) playing ball. “Progress towards the creation of the EU’s unitary patent and the UPC continued apace throughout the year,” Wild wrote, just before the section above. The #1 goal right now (at the EPO) is to make the UPC a reality without (or before) any public consultation. Consider this comment which alluded to the MIP interview and notes:
In the interview, President Battistelli characterizes DG3 as an administrative unit of the EPO, composed mainly of EPO examiners. He tells us that the EPC Member States deliberately chose not to create a judiciary body under the EPC but, rather, a mere administrative unit of the EPO.
Is this what the AC now thinks? Does this explain the unseemly rush to bury DG3? Has the thought taken root, at AC level, that all of the 38 EPC Member States are failing, still, even after more than 40 years of trying, to comply with GATT-TRIPS?
I don’t understand. I thought it was well settled, that DG3 is a judicial not an administrative instance. Is the EPO President so almighty that he can by fiat declare DG3 to be administrative and NOT judicial?
Or is all this just a manifestation of the pan-European political imperative, to jump start the UPC?
As one person wrote in response, “the reason is simple – DG3 is a cost burden on the EPO budget. The only way to reduce it is to reduce the size of DG3, either through not appointing new members, encouraging current members to leave, or “disciplinary” measures.”
Alluding to Battistelli’s background in ÉNA, one person opines:
Being an Ena-teque, I suspect BB sees everything as an administrative task with technical/judicial support functionaries. That reflects his treatment of staff in general. DG4 (HR et al) is the core and DGs 1 and 3 are support acts for the successful operation of DG4. While HR, IT etc. were previously the support, the system has changed and now examining and boards of appeal are downgraded to simple tasks which any non-ENA person can do.
Another comment says:
The President´s public statement that the Boards of appeal are an administrative and non-independent unit of the office amounts to a complete reversal of the position which had been successfully maintained for more than 40 years and had been absolutely paramount to the recognition of the European Patent System by national jurisdictions.
This is indeed a disastrous move, which might have dramatic consequences.
It looks as if the President, after having been discharged by the AC at its last meeting of any further responsability in the necessary institutional reorganisation of the Boards, had in his rage decided to broke the toy altogether. And beyond the Boards, it is now the AC which he attacks.
More refutations of Battistelli are as follows:
A short summary of the managing ip interview is here:
Battistelli defiant in interview about EPO reforms
The part about the BOAs only forming an administrative unit is not included.
BB suggests that the appeal fee should cover 20-25% of the cost instead of 4% as is the case now. (A similar if not much larger increase of the opposition fee is not difficult to predict. To justify such increases one only needs to compare with the UPC fees!)
BB says it is “short-sighted” to suggest the backlog of appeal cases has been created in the past few months due to positions being vacant (“few” being 18).
Yet another sign of intellectual dishonesty, as no one has suggested that the recruitment stop has created the backlog. The backlog was there already, but how is that an excuse for stopping recruitment.
BB appears to be not completely unwilling to make new nominations next year. We’ll have to wait and see what kind of surprise he has in mind.
BB still wants to move the BOAs out of his sight and to prevent BOA members from working in private practice after leaving their position. How is he going to do that, now that the AC is said to have taken the reform out of his hands? But of course he still controls whoever will draft the new proposal.
The responses to Battistelli’s claims include the following:
Battistelli seems to want be BoA to be self-financing and yet they are only an administrative organ rather than a judicial body. Will HR be equally self-financing? And, if so, how? Make your mind up!
Is sing members – 18 now but how many after end of year retirements?
New nominations? But no posts have been advertised for more than a year. There can’t be anybody ready beyond personal nomination by him?
Preventing from working by attacking their pension (rights)? Delaying payment of final allowances? Going to court – a single case would frighten a few? Playing hard ball with their new employers? You think he wouldn’t be creative?? (See you at the ILO in 10 years…)
Usefully enough, someone posted the relevant quote from this article (behind paywall) and it goes as follows:
We understand that you and the Administrative Council believe that the efficiency of the Board needs to increase, and the independence needs to be assured. Can you reassure people about that in the long-term but also in the short term, given concerns about the number of members of the Boards?
[Battistelli:] The first thing to bear in mind is that when the EPC was discussed, signed and ratified the member states decided not to create a judiciary body that would be separate from the EPO. They decided to create an administrative unit within the EPO with the task of reviewing EPO decisions on granting or not granting a patent. It is recognised there is some ambiguity there but this was the choice made at the time. There have been several attempts over the past 40 years to change the situation, and they have never succeeded.
So the situation is we have an administrative unit, composed mainly of former patent examiners, who are independent in the decisions they make but not in their legal nature.
In spite of the ambiguity during the past 40 years, the Boards of Appeal have built strong reputations for independence and expertise and have fulfilled their roles to everybody’s satisfaction.
Second, on independence, this has never been questioned. None of my predecessors or myself have interfered in any specific case. But there was a decision of the EBA [R2/14] that said because of the links there was a risk of partiality.
This decision obliged us to reconsider the links between the Boards of Appeal in general and the Office, so we started to reflect on a situation where we could increase the independence and the efficiency. I made some proposals to the Council, one of them to create a fully separate organisation, but this would imply a change to the EPC. The Council clearly indicated they cannot consider this option and asked me to make some proposals within the framework of the EPC.
It’s not easy because the EPC clearly gives the responsibility for the management of the Boards to the president of the Office. How can the president delegate this authority to someone else? We looked at creating a person with a new function of president of the Boards of Appeal, who would be the highest authority but also in charge of administration, like in many national courts. Somebody has to manage the Boards, and it cannot be the president of the Office as this would be understood as interference in their functioning. It’s legally not easy because it has to be compliant with the EPC.
We are also proposing to help the Council fulfil its duties by creating a subsidiary body composed of members of the Council and high level judicial people. This body will be consultative and will help the Council to fulfil its duties for the Boards of Appeal.
I’m confident that we could make some proposals in the first months of 2016 in order to go forward.
What Battistelli does here is pretty amazing because, as people repeatedly show, he is ignoring all the rules, probably in pursuit of his* “greater good” (the UPC). One person digs up old documents before commenting as follows:
BB’s interpretation is not consistent with what is recorded in the Travaux Preparatoires:
Quick ! Make a backup copy before they disappear online …
We have made a local copy just in case
[PDF]. The document is dated 30th of September, 1973 (nearly a decade before I was even born). Having paged through it, I’m increasingly convinced it’s quite valuable in the sense that it enables detailed comparison between the original goals, rules and visions of the EPC to what Battistelli now claims them to be (revisionism). It’s not necessarily the EPC that’s misguided; it’s those who misinterpret or distort its message (or find loopholes) that put it to shame. █
* Large multinational corporations’ actually, as the infamous new pattern serves to show.
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Below is a self-explanatory screenshot
Summary: Benoît Battistelli’s EPO has paid a lot of money to FTI Consulting, which is in turn paying an untold amount of money to IAM in order to help create a pro-UPC forum, stuffed with biased (for their pockets) attendants, keynotes, etc.
IAM’s MANY writings about patents have been followed by yours truly for over half a decade. I’m no stranger to their ‘work’. As noted here before, IAM glorifies patent stockpiling (irrespective of the consequences), it promotes software patents everywhere, and it puts at risk people who are critical of the EPO. It recently blocked anyone who dared to expose IAM’s pro-EPO agenda as if they try to prevent communication and perhaps even have a lot to hide (they already admitted receiving money from the EPO).
“As noted here before, IAM glorifies patent stockpiling (irrespective of the consequences), it promotes software patents everywhere, and it puts at risk people who are critical of the EPO.”The UPC isn’t bad for everyone. It gives money to patent lawyers (who along with large corporations that employ them stand to benefit from more lawsuits, injunctions, etc.), but what about the rest of European society?
Last night we spotted what looks like some kind of a new EPO campaign hosted and run by its (paid by their own admission) ‘buddies’ from IAM. Remember that FTI Consulting was paid €880,000 a few months ago.
The event site is quite revealing. The agenda is made clear right at the front page. Regarding the UPC, for example, before it’s even approved they dub it “Europe’s New Patent Market” and then they use positive language like “Winning Strategies for the UPC Regime” (winning in the litigation sense?).
Who’s winning? Patent lawyers? Europe certainly would not win, and Battistelli is trying very hard to silence high-level EPO staff that antagonises the UPC, even after leaving the EPO.
The EPO’s FTI Consulting AstroTurfing campaign is becoming quite a disaster. Once made visible and known to more people, everything the EPO does looks like manipulation of media. What on Earth was Battistelli thinking? The implications of this are severe and even French politicians are complaining about it (we still need a translation from French, both of the letter and of this new article).
It is starting to look more plausible (or probable) that IAM blocked many people because it had become the girlfriend of Battistelli and the EPO. Trying to defend such a relationship isn’t easy. FTI Consulting is essentially an EPO purse right now, serving as somewhat of a proxy, almost like a money-laundering operation (budget for one year: nearly $1 million). Just watch what FTI Consulting apparently did for fracking clients.
“Just watch what FTI Consulting apparently did for fracking clients.”We have researched this a little further and found that, based on tweets such as this, the site’s section has been around for at least a week (maybe a lot longer).
whois.net lookup shows “Creation Date: 11-sep-2014″ and does not reveal who registered it. We previously saw how lobbying groups or front groups of Microsoft hid their lobbying domains quite cleverly but then exposed that. Looking a little deeper (identity is partly concealed) we find who set up the domain:
Admin Name: Christopher Proud
Admin Organization: Globe Business Publishing
Admin Street: New Hibernia House
Admin Street: Winchester Walk
Admin City: London
Admin State/Province: London
Admin Postal Code: SE1 9AG
Admin Country: GB
Admin Phone: +44.2072340606
Admin Phone Ext:
Admin Fax: +44.2072340606
There was also an event for patent trolls organised just months after this site’s setup. Is this a way to start a venture? Collecting money from trolls to promote trolls or at least improve their image? Others do so too and when challenged online they failed to defend it.
“Shameless lobbying with the veneer of an ‘independent’ ‘news’ site. Clever stunt from FTI Consulting?”See the “NPE 2015″ pages. Among the sponsors (which paid IAM) were infamous anti-Linux, Microsoft-connected trolls such as MOSAID (renamed since) and Acacia, both as “Gold” sponsors. They’re joined by other trolls, famous lawyers of trolls, and Microsoft-connected aggressors like Finjan. There’s no FTI Consulting in sight, so the EPO connection (not the IAM connection) seems likely to have put them in the UPC event. Among other sponsors we only see the world’s most vocal proponents of software patents, which serves to reinforce our perception of the principal forces behind UPC.
Isn’t that wonderful? Shameless lobbying with the veneer of an ‘independent’ ‘news’ site. Clever stunt from FTI Consulting? Or will it simply backfire? █
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The EPO’s marketing/PR people just put bad news on hold, won’t comment on it
Summary: The management of the European Private [sic] Office (EPO) continues to congratulate itself every other day, almost as though nothing has gone amiss and the EPO is an heroic leader of green energy, humanitarian unity, and compliance
Yesterday (late at night in particular), due to a quickly-growing backlog we published about half a dozen articles about the EPO. Watch Battistelli milking ISO 9001 (warning:
epo.org link), taking advantage of something which we covered in this old article and of ISO, another rubber-stamping organisation. After greenwashing and additional UPC glamourisation it’s apparently time to spread the false perception of EPO being in compliance (e.g. with the law). Clever spin.
It’s no secret that the Office is now lobbying (and wants a monopoly on this kind of lobbying, as we showed last night) for the UPC. Words like “Community”, “Unitary”, “European” and so on are supposed to make occupation of Europe by large (and usually foreign) corporations sound not just benign but also desirable. Watch Éanna Kelly from Science|Business acting as some kind of megaphone or courier for Battistelli in this new article that’s looking more like a press release. Is this part of the expensive PR campaign? As one person put it earlier today in IP Kat comments, “880k euros well spent?” (alluding to this leak of the FTI Consulting contract)
Here is the article in which this comment can be found. Among the comments we also see mentioned “AIPPI and Epi finally woke up from their long sleep. Better, because more courageous and complete, is the letter of AIPPI. Now BB [Battistelli] will get slaps from all directions on all issues: wrong on DG3, unrespectful of rules of law, disregard for due process, harassment of employees etc. He will have to get out of here with his team, and quick. At last…!”
The article is relatively short and in it Merpel wrote about letters which we already covered (before IP Kat) and added: “It’s anyone’s guess where this will go next. Merpel’s guess, based on another rumour she has heard, is that the AC will take the reform of the Boards entirely out of the hands of Mr Battistelli, and will develop its own proposals, perhaps through a sub-committee or within Board 28 (its internal management committee).”
In IP Kat comments, more so than in any other site, we suspect that the EPO (or some kind of PR proxy or EPO apologists) use distraction as an art form. In Merpel’s article there happens to be a link to this AMBA letter. Here is the full text of the letter:
Re: Orientation Paper on the Structural Reform of the BoA
AMBA has seen the Presidium’s letter to the AC in response to CA/98/15 (see Annex 1) and fully endorses it. We would like, however, to make some further comments.
1. The short timeframe foreseen in CA/16/15 was used to justify provisional measures, notably a freeze on recruitment. After nine months, CA/98/15 represents a rather small change with respect to CA/16/15. In this time, however, the staffing situation in the Boards has become critical, approaching 20% of posts are vacant, despite considerable user protests about backlogs and timeliness. Boards in some technical areas have insufficient members to handle cases.
2. AMBA has put forward concrete written proposals to the Task Force. We, however, have never seen a single document or proposal before the publication of CA/98/15. Moreover, the document manifestly takes no account of our submissions, despite assurances that they would be reflected in any proposal. The paper also takes no account of the comments of the AC members in the Council meeting of March 2015, or of the user survey results; rather, it misrepresents them (see Annex 2).
3. The paper states that the Office has asked an independent expert about the legality of the delegation of presidential powers and functions . We understand that this advice was first sought after the problems of CA/16/15 were highlighted. If there is no answer after nine months of study, it must be doubtful whether the delegation can possibly have the desired effect of clearly separating the judicial function from the executive. But, if delegation turns out not to be legal or not clearly to increase independence, the whole proposal is without foundation. It is premature to consider further measures, especially ones that the Council, board members, and users have identified as entirely secondary or misconceived, before resolving this crucial issue.
4. In our view, all the changes introduced in CA/98/15 are detrimental to both actual and perceived independence and do not solve the problem highlighted in decision R 19/12. The proposal now places considerably more power in the hands of the President of the Office: proposing the President of the BoA  and the Rules of Procedure , and involvement in setting up the BoAC . The BoAC now has more influence from the AC and still no voting representative of the BoA  despite the fact that AMBA, the Presidium, some delegations, and virtually all the responses to the user consultation have raised doubts as to whether a body of the AC should be involved in the running of the BoA. Contrary to what is stated , the BoAC is in no way limited to general advisory and consultative roles. There is no explanation of, and no mechanism for, assuring the Boards’ autonomy under the BoAC or the new President of the BoA. The removal of control from the Boards of the Rules of Procedure and conditions for re-appointment must reduce autonomy. Association of the Members of the Boards of Appeal / European Patent Office
5. AMBA and the Presidium jointly presented an alternative proposal (see Annex 3), involving a Senate for the Boards of Appeal, based on the existing Presidium, but in an extended composition that balances the independence of the BoA with the understandable wish of the AC to be more informed, and more involved about the functioning of the BoA (accountability). It is a proposal that requires minimal changes to the existing structure and which does not rely on delegation of presidential powers, but which is compatible with a BoAC as a sub-committee of the Council.
6. The setting of Rules of Procedure in national jurisdictions is a complicated matter that must be understood in their proper contexts. CA/98/15 glosses over this  and does not present the Council with sufficient information to make an informed judgement. It may be noted, however, that the CJEU and the ECHR decide their own Rules of Procedure. Amendments to the Rules of Procedure for the UPC are proposed by its Presidium (Art. 15(3)(a)).
7. The proposal puts the Boards back in the Office’s “technical” career path (as defined in Art. 47 ServRegs) . The Council recognised this as inappropriate for the Boards, which is why a transitional system was adopted. Not mentioned is the Boards’ paper regarding a career system. The main points were that the principles of judicial independence and security of tenure require that re-appointment should not be based on performance and that all board members (or chairmen) do the same job so that proficiency levels and promotion within a job level make no sense and would give a strange impression to the parties. The paper also proposed various scenarios to address these problems, by having grade advancement at re-appointment.
8. No delegate or user group has indicated any conflict of interest if an ex Board member works as a patent agent. If there were such a conflict, it would, a fortiori, not be possible for practising patent attorneys to sit as judges in the UPC.
9. Since a move outside Munich appears to be against the EPC, it provides an additional argument for those challenging the legality of the whole system. Moreover, again no delegate or user group sees a need to move out of Munich and most see no need to move at all. The alternatives presented in the paper are all associated with major disruptions and/or increased costs. We think that the alternative of remaining in the Isar building should be seriously considered.
The Boards of Appeal will be an essential part of the European Patent system for many years to come. AMBA therefore appeals to the Council to stop the ad-hoc interim measures that impede their functioning, and to critically analyse alternatives before taking any decisions that might damage their standing and their reputation and might be difficult/costly to reverse (relocation, reduction of posts, legislation etc.). We also support the idea of meeting with members of the AC and independent external experts to help find a common solution to this issue.
The AMBA Committee.
Not all is well at Eponia (understatement of the decade), but outsiders who just follow the EPO based on its “news” section and/or Twitter account won’t know a thing!
There’s a lot of malicious stuff going on inside the EPO right now (irrespective of the imminent Christmas break, which is exploited by patent bigwigs to the detriment of examiners), so we will definitely release many documents later today. It’s my birthday today, but defending law-abiding staff representatives at this crucial time is a lot more important. Some believe that the EPO plans to just sack (if possible) the suspended staff representatives before Christmas. We strongly doubt it, as it has been over a year since a judge was suspended and it’s still an ongoing issue of heated dispute. █
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Who is this man kidding anyway?
Summary: Benoît Battistelli’s EPO is adopting an imperialistic approach that would allow foreign companies such as Microsoft and Apple to issue Europe-wide injunctions, claim more in ‘damages’, pressure for higher ‘royalties’, and so on (but it’s all for EU-based SMEs, honest!)
THE EPO does not surprise us when it openly lobbies for UPC. Just over an hour ago the EPO published this self-promotional (for management, not examiners or boards) nonsense. (warning: link to
WIPR already has some coverage which says nothing special or new; it presents little except only one side’s views. Battistelli is parroted and views are also offered from “Graham Burnett-Hall, partner at Marks & Clerk, a firm of patent and trademark attorneys” (conspicuously absent is a public interest group or an outsider’s representative).
“What’s amazing here isn’t that the EPO lobbies for the UPC but that the public is kept totally in the dark and the EPO gets away with it.”As expected, patent maximalists and patent lawyers like IP Magazine are happy about the UPC (a tax on everything in Europe, including more lawsuits and injunctions). They call this “[a] ‘Hugely significant’ occasion for EU #patent system after preparations for the unitary patent completed” (UPC is a case of fast-tracking things before the public even gets the chance to vote).
UPC ties into ever broader things like TPP and TTIP. It’s a sort of globalism poorly implemented so as to punish the poor and benefit only those who are already rich and still getting richer, by redesign of laws to annul their tax, impede their competition, give their corporations sovereignty over government etc.
What’s truly amazing here isn’t that the EPO lobbies for the UPC (we have seen that for quite a while and reported it on occasions) but that the public is kept totally in the dark and the EPO gets away with it. It’s as though Europe is occupied and oppressed by a group of people. This isn’t a functioning democracy. ‘Patent’ offices that lobby aren’t really patent offices but an entirely different kind of monster. On social media I’ve joked earlier on: “What is this lobbying firm called EPO? Oh, wait, it’s not a lobbying firm per se. It’s the European Private Office. A 'public' service…”
We hope that even existing staff of the EPO can see why this is plainly unrest and morally wrong. The EPO isn’t supposed to decide how Europe is run; instead it should be the public deciding how Europe is run and how the EPO is run, under the control of European politicians; everything is in reverse right now, so the tail is effectively wagging the dog.
“Look what a mess has been left here. Battistelli fights everyone and everyone now fights back against him.”Earlier today we showed that even well-known European patent lawyers were getting fed up with Battistelli. Well, the European Patent Lawyers Association (EPLAW), which previously expressed concerns about Benoît Battistelli’s EPO [1, 2] and even cited Techrights for support, now speaks of the “Structural Reform of the Boards of Appeal”. Guess whose side EPLAW it taking. The following statement is self explanatory: “Before the meeting of the AC in which the President’s proposal will be discussed in the course of this week, the Association of the Members of the Boards of Appeal (AMBA) raises its voice and makes even more critical comments. According to AMBA, the new proposals manifestly take no account of AMBA’s submissions, despite assurances that they would be reflected in any proposal. Furthermore, they take no account of the comments of the AC members in the Council meeting of March, or of the user survey results; rather it misrepresents them. All the changes are said to be detrimental to both actual and perceived independence. Instead they place considerably more power in the hands of the President of the Office.”
Look what a mess has been left here. Battistelli fights everyone and everyone now fights back against him. This is very poor leadership and any remnant of reputation that the EPO gained for several decades is being lost in just a couple of years. Earlier this evening the FFII’s Benjamin Henrion wrote: “Well EPO is not responsible in front of a court, so there is no procedure if the EPO does not work. That’s why it needs to be dissolved, or reintegrated in other democratic structures.”
Looking at Henrion’s old site, Digital Majority, we find this old news pick saying that the “EPO staff blame Admin Council for EPO woes”. To quote what was there at the time:
Last week a dramatic EPO document fell into our hands. “Governance of the EPO: a Staff Perspective” documents internal conflicts in the EPO, staff versus management, in which the Administrative Council (AC) and President have almost totally lost the confidence of the EPO staff. In 2004, just 8% of staff expressed trust in the AC, and 28% in the President. In 2006 this figure had fallen to 4% and 7%.
The report – written by staff representatives – avoids criticism of the President, and focuses its ire on the Administrative Council, citing the conflict between national and personal interests, and those of the EPO.
Looking at a related site for a submission of the EPO representative on the Commission’s ICT Task Force report we have:
Raise awareness of the patent system among SMEs: The EPO may develop a project which aims at increasing the understanding and the use of IP by SMEs. The main concept entitled “train the trainers” is to provide trainings for specific target groups in the field of protection and exploitation of IP and IP management, with the main focus given on patenting. The relay done by the staff already working in direct contact with SMEs will ensure multiplier effects of the training given and SMEs will be expected as final recipients.
Well, we now know, thanks to a large degree to leaks (from several simultaneous sources), that the EPO does not give a damn about European SMEs. It cares neither about Europe nor SMEs as it now gives priority to foreign giants (hence the correction of Battistelli’s new statements at the top). This is what happens when the EPO is operated outside democratic controls. A serious overhaul is well overdue; the UPC isn’t it. The UPC is further escalation in the wrong direction. We fear that some people inside the EPO still believe what the EPO's management tells them about the UPC (or what patent lawyers tell them). Does anyone still believe the EPO’s management? █
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There is a clever and nasty new media strategy, aided by evil peripheral firms
Summary: Benoît Battistelli’s EPO is engaged in an information war — a war of spin and deception in the mass media (a new media strategy on the face of it) and we respond to it below because many of the EPO’s arguments are either fictional or defamatory (or both)
AN EPO article which we mentioned here the other day, an article from Heise (largest news source in Germany, at least for IT), has just been translated. An accurate English translation is formally published by SUEPO, the largest EPO union whose existence predates even mine and the EPO’s (almost my parents’ existence too, if SUEPO’s predecessor/previous identity is also considered). SUEPO (SU stands for Staff Union) isn’t some “new union on the block”, it has a very long history and a huge number of members, who make it a legitimate representation of staff’s views. Its members are very well educated; many are doctors from all across Europe. There is a very well-funded (about €73,000 per month) reputation laundering campaign going on (in conjunction with union-busting with outside consultants), so we expected to see some myths making their way into the article. We hereby rebut several such myths, having researched this topic for many hundreds of hours (if not more than a thousand hours).
For completeness and for future reference we decided to make an HTML copy of the translation and highlight the curious (or relatively new) bits — those that add crucial and/or new information. Our response is at the bottom.
European Patent Office: Conflict between Management and Staff rapidly coming to a Head
The European Patent Office has suspended the Staff Union leadership; now the situation threatens to escalate. The Office President has branded the staff representatives as “Mafia”; they speak of “institutional violence”.
The atmosphere between the management cadre and the staff union at the European Patent Office (EPO) is getting more and more toxic. In the dispute over the efficiency drive by Office President, Benoît Battistelli, he has now launched a venomous flood of rhetoric on the international staff union of the institution (SUEPO) and challenged their legitimacy.
Atmosphere of Terror
Frenchman Battistelli is quoted by the online service “Politico” as insisting that the union is not a representative body but a “Mafia-like” organization. At the same time he refutes the allegation that he himself has created an “atmosphere of terror”. One member of staff had anonymously claimed that the staff felt they were being “squeezed like lemons”, which was affecting their health.
Over the past three and a quarter years, five of the around 7000 staff members have committed suicide, the last incident being in August. Suepo are insisting that the deaths should be independently investigated, in the light of the changed working conditions. Battistelli has been the chief executive of the Office since 2010.
An EPO spokesperson has complained to the WIPR service that, on a lower level, leading management and executive personnel have been increasingly confronted with “personal attacks”, excessive references in blogs and leaflets, and even “calls for violence”.
Of course, the union is not going to take this lying down. These “cheap accusations” are blatant inventions to arouse sympathy for the Office leadership, now that it is increasingly coming under closer scrutiny by the media. But it is not the managers who are the victims; on the contrary, it is they who are introducing “institutional violence”, in particular against those who have not declared themselves to be in agreement with “certain regulations”. Overall, this tactic is said to be being used to challenge the integrity and worth of honest employees, who have in no way deserved this.
Suepo has again called for a “peaceful demonstration” on Thursday at the Office headquarters in Munich. The protest is aimed in particular at the “sustained attacks” against staff representatives, which are said to have now reached a peak with the suspension and the initiation of disciplinary measures against the union executive.
Last Thursday, and the week before, according to figures from Suepo and the police, some 2000 staff members have already taken part in similar gatherings. The EPO union has support from colleagues at the Office for the Harmonization of the Internal Market (OHIM), the counterpart to the Patent Office in matters relating to Community trademarks. In a press release the staff representatives there expressed their “deep concern” about the situation at the EPO, which needs to be addressed urgently.
Fear of retribution
The Administrative Council of the Office is apparently now being approached, so that union officials can once again address the concerns of the staff members without fear of repercussions. The additional protection of their votes, which are critical to the issue, is said to be essential if an abuse of power is to be prevented. The EPO leadership is accusing the suspended Chair of the Union, Elizabeth Hardon, among other things, of having talked too much, and to have threatened and bullied Union members.
In the local (heise) online “Accusation letter”, the talk is of “sniper” methods, said to have been used against Hardon. As well as that, it seems evident that even the private E-mail accounts of the SUEPO executive have been monitored.
There had already been earlier complaints of a comparatively new “Investigation Unit” of the Office having used keyloggers and cameras and of having worked with somewhat murky service providers such as the British “Control Risk Group”, to spy on staff members. Hardon herself refutes the accusations against her entirely, and has lodged an appeal with the EPO data protection supervisory authority.
Waving patents through in a rush
Battistelli has meanwhile lavished praise in a local (heise) online circular on the ongoing efforts by the employees, which he claims have led to increasing effectiveness and greater productivity. In concordance with the new performance-based assessment system, in 2015 a total of 18.4 million Euro was distributed by way of bonus payments to the workforce. This is said to be 20 percent more than in the previous year. Suepo contends that the remunerations are hardly an issue, and in any event are only a “perverse incentive” not to examine patent applications adequately and wave them through as rapidly as possible. (kbe)
Points that Techrights wishes to make very briefly about this article:
- It’s not SUEPO that’s “Mafia”, Battistelli is merely projecting to give an illusion of parity (as if both sides are aggressive and subversive). This seems like the latest PR/media strategy as we’re seeing it quite a lot these days.
- The incredibly cliquish Team Battistelli challenges the legitimacy of SUEPO simply because, by Battistelli’s warped standards, opposition is neither warranted nor allowed. He is a spoiled brat from a rich people’s school and it still shows. Contrast that with Alison Brimelow. What a spectacular difference!
- Team Battistelli has been trying to paint itself as preventer of suicides and blame such tragedies on SUEPO; what a nerve they have…
- The “calls for violence” which Team Battistelli speaks of are fictional. There is no evidence of them. We wrote several articles about this and it is conveniently related to point (1) above. Journalists oughtn’t print such nonsense without fact-checking.
- The "sniper" narrative is a shameful personal attack, intended to bias or incite the reader of a poor (and otherwise very narrow/limited) set of accusations against Hardon
- With Control Risks Group in the mix, we urge people to encrypt or use Tor. Control Risks Group isn’t just some ordinary company/firm; it’s now a military-grade union busting-service (with reputation for that in Europe).
- SUEPO is right to suggest that patent applications are now being examined rather poorly. Staff is put under pressure to grant in bulk or otherwise risk losing the Christmas vacation
The last point suggests to us that the Team Battistelli-led EPO is gradually emulating the notorious USPTO (very deeply involved in and dominated by large corporations, with terrible grant rates).
“We wrote thousands of articles about the USPTO and we have great (and growing) fear that those same disasters (and patent predators) will reach Europe.”This new blog post titled “Another depressing year for patent law?” says a lot about how practitioners in the US view the USPTO. Watch how this US patent lawyer, Lawrence B. Ebert, quoting Larry Downes as saying: “On just one day in November, for example, over 200 new patent lawsuits were filed, as plaintiffs rushed to beat a change in federal procedure that could require more specific claims. Most were from companies that buy up patents of dubious quality and use them to extract nuisance settlements from actual innovators.”
Is this what Europe is hoping to achieve? We wrote thousands of articles about the USPTO and we have great (and growing) fear that those same disasters (and patent predators) will reach Europe. Some already do. █
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IAM blocking opposing views now?
Summary: The IAM echo chamber becomes even more of an echo chamber as people who don’t agree with IAM get literally blocked
IAM was always the most 'extremist' site when it comes to patents. It loves software patents, it loves patent trolls, and it evidently loves the EPO‘s management (at times serving as some kind of courier). We have watched the site for many years (reading literally hundreds of articles) and have many reasons for scepticism. It didn’t come out of nowhere or at haste.
“IAM brought upon itself somewhat of a controversy online because it has blocked at least 3 people in Twitter (those whom we know about) for merely criticising IAM, denying them even visibility of IAM’s ‘work’.”Well, IAM ‘magazine’ decided to organise a conference for patent trolls. They don’t use the word trolls (they strongly oppose and reject the term); they use a euphemistic acronym and refer to it as “our inaugural NPE conference”. Remember IP Dealmakers Forum, which was recently opened by the world’s largest patent troll.
IAM brought upon itself somewhat of a controversy online because it has blocked at least 3 people in Twitter (those whom we know about) for merely criticising IAM, denying them even visibility of IAM’s ‘work’.
Joff Wild, who often acts like a megaphone of Battistelli, especially amid scandals [1, 2], cannot take the heat. He is now blocking those who don’t agree with him, showing how thin-skinned he is. Even what we believe to be EPO staff got blocked [1, 2, 3], not to mention the President of the FFII [1, 2, 3, 4, 5] and myself included. Well, even the EPO’s Twitter account, which is a PR front for an institution that blocked Techrights (internally, site-wide), has not done so. What does this say about IAM? █
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