01.30.23

EPO Management Isn’t Listening to Staff, It’s Just Trying to Divide and Demoralise the Staff Instead

Posted in Europe, Patents at 9:03 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Video download link | md5sum 32dd63c46bdd4b787727bd9782632766
EPO Divide-and-Rule
Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0

Summary: “On 18 January 2023,” the staff representatives tell European Patent Office (EPO) colleagues, “the staff representation met with the administration in a Working Group on the project “Bringing Teams Together”. It was the first meeting since the departure of PD General Administration and the radical changes made to the project. We voiced the major concerns of staff, the organization chaos and unrest caused by the project among teams and made concrete proposals.”

The Central Staff Committee (CSC) at Europe’s largest patent office — the EPOis again protesting the proposal put forth by António Campinos and his cronies. Remember that these cronies aren’t democratically elected; they’re in need of impressing nobody; they literally buy (bribe for) votes from the Council. It’s an oppressive force of corporate occupation, not leadership by any stretch of imagination. They openly promote utterly illegal and unconstitutional proposals. They refuse to obey orders from judges.

“Where’s the media in all this? Still ignoring what’s happening in Europe’s second-largest organisation?”Edda Franz, the EPO’s Principal Director General Administration, has left already, but this terrible proposal she’s responsible for goes ahead. This was covered here towards the end of last year.

Here’s the latest publication on the subject, noting that unrest and chaos soon followed:

Munich,26/01/2023
sc23010cp

“Bringing Teams Together”

Report on the Working Group meeting of
18 January 2023

On 18 January 2023, the staff representation met with the administration in a Working Group on the project “Bringing Teams Together”. It was the first meeting since the departure of PD General Administration and the radical changes made to the project. We voiced major concerns of staff, the organisation chaos and unrest caused by the project among teams and made concrete proposals.

Dear Colleagues,

Compressing staff in less space than available

The administration announced in the meeting that:
− in The Hague, DG1 staff will be entirely moved to the New Main and the Shell building will be gradually emptied.
− in the Isar building, three floors have been emptied and will be used by three directorates of DG1.
− the Pschorr Höfe Parts 5 and 6 will be emptied for conversion work in order to increase the number of single offices (e.g. dividing current shared or meeting rooms in several smaller rooms). Staff will be moved to the lower floors 1 to 5 of Pschorr Höfe Parts 1-4. Higher floors will remain empty in order to compress staff as much as possible so that a global move back to Pschorr Höfe Parts 5 and 6 in two years will allow the administration to make another use of Pschorr Höfe Parts 1-4 (most likely renting out).

Radical changes and chaotic implementation

In the meeting, we referred to the CSC publication of 12 January 2023 pointing at the radical changes made to the project since December without consulting staff representation. Line managers are asked to proceed on the basis of quotas (70% of workplaces per directorate among which 50% can be allocated fixed) thereby triggering divisive discussions among staff. The implementation is chaotic and arbitrary with a broad range of diverging implementations on top of “managerial arbitrariness”. Here a non-exhaustive list:

• Some line managers decide to allocate only workplaces-for-the-day to everyone.
• Some line managers explain that only those agreeing to a shared office (e.g. two workplaces in the same room) could have an allocated fixed workplace.
• Some line managers allocate fixed workplaces only to those coming 5 days a week on the premises.
• Some line managers allocate a fixed workplace only to “high producers”.


We repeated that such implementations contradict the principle of individual workplace allocation promised by Mr Campinos, as well as the statement of Ms Simon (VP4) in the December Administrative Council meeting that “anyone coming at least three days per week will have an allocated fixed workplace”. Furthermore, a purely quota-based distribution of workplaces and allocated fixed workplaces cannot match the wishes of staff.

We stressed that staff are additionally worried that even allocated fixed workplaces must not be personalised, that they will have no keys and will furthermore only have limited storage space.

Impact study? Disengagement?

The administration confirmed that neither an impact study nor any proper needs assessment had been made before launching the project. In their view, the goal is to avoid a “ghost town” feeling because of low building occupancy when coming to the premises. Concerning the timing, the administration explained that it is not possible to wait forever before doing something nor to wait for the implementation to be agreed by all DGs. The guiding principle is to allocate fixed workplaces to people who come more often and bookable workplaces-for-the-day for those who come less frequently.

In our view, such a project requires an impact study to assess the effects on staff. How much working time will be lost for the moves (and in the prior divisive discussions)? How long will staff take to adapt to the system? How much time will be lost in resetting every day the individual ergonomics, computer and screen settings and locking all personal items when leaving the room?

It is easy to see that staff willing to come three days a week will resort to the minimum attendance of 60 days to avoid the hassle of workplace booking and the readjustment of ergonomics. Rather than “Bringing Teams Together”, the project will achieve the opposite, i.e. deter staff from coming to theOffice premises.

The latest Technologia Survey results already show a significant degradation of staff engagement. Disengagement of EPO staff increased from 13% of staff in 2016, and 19% in 2020, to 41% in 2022. An employer who tries to allocate impersonal workplaces-for-the-day even to those coming frequently to the Office premises (three days or more per week), is an employer showing staff that they do not count. The present project therefore is expected to only worsen the situation.

Concrete proposals

In the meeting, the administration asked whether we had any concrete proposal. We explained that:

− staff needs clear rules e.g. a three-day rule for having an allocated fixed workplace, as previously promised by Ms Simon (VP4),
− allocated fixed workplaces must have a key and storage space and personalisation should be allowed.

The administration promised follow-up meetings but no invitation was yet received. We remain ready for further discussions.

The Central Staff Committee

Where’s the media in all this? Still ignoring what’s happening in Europe’s second-largest organisation?

01.27.23

[Meme] António Campinos Wants to Be F***ing President Until 2028

Posted in Europe, Patents at 2:20 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Ruling by force (and corruption), not consent

António Campinos

Summary: António Campinos insists he will be EPO President for 10 years, i.e. even longer than Benoît Battistelli (despite having appalling approval rates from staff)

António Campinos demo

Who ‘voted’ for him? Only people whom he bribed.

European Patent Office Staff Losing Hope

Posted in Europe, Patents at 2:06 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Video download link | md5sum 503e18c16f942729aa694e85c07cb717
EPO Deteriorates Every Year, So Does Its Propaganda
Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0

Summary: The EPO’s management with its shallow campaign of obfuscation (pretending to protect children or some other nonsense) is not fooling patent examiners, who have grown tired and whose representatives say “the administration shows no intention of involving the staff representation in the drafting of the consultant’s mandate” (like in Sirius ‘Open Source’ where technical staff is ignored completely for misguided proposals to pass in the dark)

The Central Staff Committee, or the staff representation at the European Patent Office, is unequivocally unhappy about António‘s reign, which turns 5 in July. Benoît Battistelli in 2014 or 2015 was starting to struggle to the point of attacking the staff representatives. Campinos shouted the f* word at staff representatives last year, so maybe he’s even “ahead of the curve” (so much for social/negotiation skills).

“Campinos shouted the f* word at staff representatives last year, so maybe he’s even “ahead of the curve” (so much for social/negotiation skills).”Here in this site we worry about European software patents being granted to fake 'production'. But we also worry about patent examiners being bullied into doing stuff in violation of the EPC.

At the moment there is the following new document circulating among staff of the EPO, asserting that “almost every review in recent years resulted in fragmentation and deterioration of our working conditions”. Here’s the full letter, which is also discussed in the video above:

Zentraler Personalausschuss
Central Staff Committee
Le Comité Central du Personnel

Munich, 23/01/2023
sc23007cp

Social Agenda 2023

Hope dies last

Dear Colleagues,

In December 2022, the CSC sent its input for the social agenda 2023 to the President, who replied shortly before the winter break. As in previous years, the administration set its social agenda without any real discussion with any social partner. It has to be said though that some of the points that we mentioned in our letter did make it into the administration’s agenda. We had also suggested a review of the computation of sick leave and an impact study of the New Ways of Working, but these were not included in the agenda.

As in previous years, we are not yet aware of the gist of any of the new reforms or reviews listed in the official social agenda 2023. In theory, it should be possible that these reforms are neutral towards staff, one could even dream of improvements. Since the administration has integrated some of our points in its agenda, one can only hope that this would be a first step towards a genuine social dialogue. It would be a marked break with past practice and a welcome surprise for staff, which is increasingly distancing and disengaging from its employer.

Past experience indicates otherwise: almost every review in recent years resulted in fragmentation and deterioration of our working conditions, often at the expense of our younger colleagues and families1.

The social agenda 2023 mentions a financial study as a recurring topic. We can only hope that this one will not be attributed to Mercer-Wyman, the very same ones who could not have been more wrong with their 2019 attempt, even despite an unforeseeable global pandemic that ensued. Once again, the administration shows no intention of involving the staff representation in the drafting of the consultant’s mandate.

The first indications for 2023 are, regrettably again, not so positive: “Bringing Teams Together” does not live up to its name at all, but proves to be a particularly divisive exercise as more and more details come to light.

We will of course keep you posted if and when we are invited to working groups and get to see the ideas the administration will pull out of their magic hat. Against all odds, the hope for the better remains until the end.

The Central Staff Committee
_____
1
Welcome to EPOnia – an overview of our recent reforms

The video above takes a journey through the latest EPO propaganda (warning: epo.org link), which was published almost every day this past week. The quality of the propaganda has rapidly fallen.

As for the agenda, as noted above, this is what’s planned for the rest of the year:

SOCIAL AGENDA 2023

ONGOING FROM 2022

1 NPS/SSP Study
2 Update circular 356 – Communication and Resources for Staff Representatives
3 Staff Committee Election Framework
4 Health Services Adjustments
5 Diversity & Inclusion

NEW TOPICS

6 Home Loans
7 Dependant’s Allowance
8 Review of the regulations regarding on-call work
9 Review of the benefits in case of physical (cross-site) transfers

RECURRING TOPICS

10 Actuarial Study
11 Financial Study

REGULAR UPDATES ON IMPLEMENTATION

12. Implementation Matters
▪ ECR
▪ New Ways of Working
▪ Bringing our Teams Together

Here’s what the original looks like (as an image with colours).

SOCIAL AGENDA 2023

csc and epo site 2023

Video download link | md5sum
EPO Deteriorates Every Year, So Does Its Propaganda
Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0

Summary: The EPO’s management with its shallow campaign of obfuscation (pretending to protect children or some other nonsense) is not fooling patent examines, who have grown tired and whose representatives say “the administration shows no intention of involving the staff representation in the drafting of the consultant’s mandate” (like in Sirius ‘Open Source’ where technical staff is ignored completely for misguided proposals to pass in the dark)

The Central Staff Committee, or the staff representation at the European Patent Office, is unequivocally unhappy about António‘s reign, which turns 5 in July. Benoît Battistelli in 2014 or 2015 was starting to struggle to the point of attacking the staff representatives. Campinos shouted the f* word at staff representatives last year, so maybe he’s even “ahead of the curve” (so much for social/negotiation skills).

“Campinos shouted the f* word at staff representatives last year, so maybe he’s even “ahead of the curve” (so much for social/negotiation skills).”Here in this site we worry about European software patents being granted to fake 'production'. But we also worry about patent examiners being bullied into doing stuff in violation of the EPC.

At the moment there is the following new document circulating among staff of the EPO, asserting that “almost every review in recent years resulted in fragmentation and deterioration of our working conditions”. Here’s the full letter, which is also discussed in the video above:

Zentraler Personalausschuss
Central Staff Committee
Le Comité Central du Personnel

Munich, 23/01/2023
sc23007cp

Social Agenda 2023

Hope dies last

Dear Colleagues,

In December 2022, the CSC sent its input for the social agenda 2023 to the President, who replied shortly before the winter break. As in previous years, the administration set its social agenda without any real discussion with any social partner. It has to be said though that some of the points that we mentioned in our letter did make it into the administration’s agenda. We had also suggested a review of the computation of sick leave and an impact study of the New Ways of Working, but these were not included in the agenda.

As in previous years, we are not yet aware of the gist of any of the new reforms or reviews listed in the official social agenda 2023. In theory, it should be possible that these reforms are neutral towards staff, one could even dream of improvements. Since the administration has integrated some of our points in its agenda, one can only hope that this would be a first step towards a genuine social dialogue. It would be a marked break with past practice and a welcome surprise for staff, which is increasingly distancing and disengaging from its employer.

Past experience indicates otherwise: almost every review in recent years resulted in fragmentation and deterioration of our working conditions, often at the expense of our younger colleagues and families1.

The social agenda 2023 mentions a financial study as a recurring topic. We can only hope that this one will not be attributed to Mercer-Wyman, the very same ones who could not have been more wrong with their 2019 attempt, even despite an unforeseeable global pandemic that ensued. Once again, the administration shows no intention of involving the staff representation in the drafting of the consultant’s mandate.

The first indications for 2023 are, regrettably again, not so positive: “Bringing Teams Together” does not live up to its name at all, but proves to be a particularly divisive exercise as more and more details come to light.

We will of course keep you posted if and when we are invited to working groups and get to see the ideas the administration will pull out of their magic hat. Against all odds, the hope for the better remains until the end.

The Central Staff Committee
_____
1
Welcome to EPOnia – an overview of our recent reforms

The video above takes a journey through the latest EPO propaganda (warning: epo.org link), which was published almost every day this past week. The quality of the propaganda has rapidly fallen.

As for the agenda, as noted above, this is what’s planned for the rest of the year:

SOCIAL AGENDA 2023

ONGOING FROM 2022

1 NPS/SSP Study
2 Update circular 356 – Communication and Resources for Staff Representatives
3 Staff Committee Election Framework
4 Health Services Adjustments
5 Diversity & Inclusion

NEW TOPICS

6 Home Loans
7 Dependant’s Allowance
8 Review of the regulations regarding on-call work
9 Review of the benefits in case of physical (cross-site) transfers

RECURRING TOPICS

10 Actuarial Study
11 Financial Study

REGULAR UPDATES ON IMPLEMENTATION

12. Implementation Matters
▪ ECR
▪ New Ways of Working
▪ Bringing our Teams Together

Here’s what the original looks like (as an image with colours).

SOCIAL AGENDA 2023

01.17.23

[Meme] Thanks to the German Government, the EPO is Immune/Protected From Prosecution (Persistent Law-breaking in the Name of ‘Upholding’ Patent Law)

Posted in Europe, Patents at 12:39 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Not even bothering to obey court rulings!

EPO and courts

Summary: Germany has created a monster — an institution which is above the law and is routinely breaking the law

Patent Practitioners Complain That the EPO is Secretive and Incompetent

Posted in Europe, Patents at 12:20 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Video download link | md5sum faf403c43a4d2099f7022b001fbe8287
What EPO Says and What the Public Says
Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0

Summary: Showing the latest in epo.org/suepo.org (EPO/staff union), we consider what’s factual and what’s fictional in Europe’s patent system

THE past month was littered with lies about the EPO [1, 2, 3], courtesy of the EPO’s management and the German government. They don’t seem to care what’s legal and what’s constitutional. They make up the rules as they go along and rapidly drift away from the EPC (the treaty signed by member states).

“Maybe that’s just the cost of abject lack of oversight.”The EPO is the very rogue and very large institution the media almost never speaks about. For a change, as the union notes, there’s some pushback going on. It focuses not on legality though. It’s about private, for-profit companies worrying that the EPO is losing its reputation and is descending into a crisis of legitimacy. Maybe that’s just the cost of abject lack of oversight. The video above elaborates.

[Meme] A Kinder, Gentler EPO Leadership

Posted in Europe, Patents at 12:13 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

To borrow the words of António Campinos:

I am the f***ing president

Summary: The EPO discriminates against women [1, 2], but still finds the audacity to publish the following words this week

EPC at 50 with overlay

EPC at 50

EPC and diversity

01.16.23

[Meme] Federal Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht): Can’t See, Won’t Hear, Don’t Speak

Posted in Courtroom, Europe, Law, Patents at 5:31 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

EPO complaints and Federal Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht)

Summary: The EPO is protected by the German government [1, 2] no matter what it does; even the “elite” courts won’t intervene

Management of the European Patent Office (EPO) is Gloating That the German Authorities Protect the EPO Even When Laws and Constitutions Are Broken

Posted in Europe, Patents at 4:25 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Using stock photography that gives a false impression of lawfulness, the EPO gloats about Bundesverfassungsgericht (Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court) refusing to even hold the EPO accountable!

AS we noted here some weeks ago, the German Constitutional Court was intentionally not ruling on complaints regarding the EPO, quite likely for political/corporate reasons. We’ve already seen under both Benoît Battistelli and António Campinos that the German government protects EPO management no matter how many crimes it commits. 4 years ago there was also concern about Stephan Harbarth, who demonstrated commercial and political interference inside the German Constitutional Court. Here’s what the EPO rushed to publish some days ago. It was very, very short. It said:

The German Federal Constitutional Court has published a decision today confirming that the EPO’s appeal system provides independent and effective judicial relief, as required by the German constitution for courts of international organisations.

This is a lie. It did not rule. It made an excuse to dismiss the complaint. Carefully constructed lies and misleading statements from the EPO… is that patented yet?

“The German government harbours one heck of a “patent mafia” at this point.”Anyway, this shows that Germany’s constitutional court, the FCC, isn’t functioning either. It’s captured by corporate interests. Just shills in robes?

As one German explained in our IRC channel this morning: “the mine that Luetzerath is being demolished for, also expanded over another village 30 years ago and that one was demolished because the German government bows to corporate interests.”

Looking elsewhere in the “news” page of the EPO, there are other types of propaganda so far this year. Here’s the gist as an annotated screenshot:

Appeal to age, Appeal to captured government, misleading statement too, Science-washing/greenwashwashing, appeal to science but it's monopoly; pretending that prosecution in country without European Patents is progress

EPO workers can hopefully relate to the stupidity of those statements. This is the poor management of the EPO showing the best it has got. Yes, Peru. Nothing wrong with Peru per se, but to the EPO it is irrelevant.

Incidentally, the decision from the FCC was mentioned (before and after) in the comments SUEPO links to at the top of the page, SUEPO.org. To quote:

Concerned observer
JANUARY 10, 2023 AT 2:02 PM
“It is unfortunate that the EPO seems to prefer silence to transparency when it comes to what’s happening at the organization”.

Well, that is putting it mildly. On the occasion in question, silence served the purpose of the EPO avoiding answering (or even commenting upon) the question of whether the President had indeed used foul language at the GCC meeting. However, it seems that there are other occasions where the EPO is happy to comment, albeit by providing reports that everyone outside of the EPO’s management struggles to reconcile with their understanding (or recollection) of events.

So why does the EPO make such deliberate attempts to evade scrutiny and/or to paint a misleading picture? Apart from the obvious reason (namely, that it suits the management’s agenda to do so), the sad truth is because they can. Frankly, concepts such as transparency, proper regulatory oversight and even the rule of law mean very little to an international organisation that has decided to set its face against such things.

Concerned observer
JANUARY 11, 2023 AT 4:49 PM
I await with interest to lean what the German Constitutional Court (BVerfG) makes of the complaints relating to the EPO. The cases in question have been pending before the BVerfG for periods ranging from about 6 to about 12 years. However, it seems that the BVerfG is FINALLY ready to publish its decisions (on 12 January):

https://www.bundesverfassungsgericht.de/DE/Presse/Senatsbeschl%C3%BCsse/Senatsbeschl%C3%BCsse_node.html

Whilst I am not a gambler, I would wager that the BVerfG’s decisions will essentially conclude that there is nothing to see here … most likely on the basis of (alleged) insufficient substantiation of the legal grounds raised in the complaints.

In any event, the German government will of course already know the outcome of the complaints. Given that there have been no signs of frantic diplomatic efforts to patch up defects in the EPC, I think that it is safe to conclude that the BVerfG’s decisions will not force Germany to withdraw from that Convention. Thus, for me, the only point of interest in the decisions will be the extent to which it (plausibly) argues that the current set-up of the Boards of Appeal is acceptable. My guess is that the BVerfG’s reasoning on this point, if any, will be about as convincing as the Dutch Supreme Court’s argument that access to the ILO-AT serves as an adequate guarantee of the right of EPO staff to COLLECTIVE bargaining.

Misma
JANUARY 12, 2023 AT 11:49 AM
In any doubt about compliance of the EPO boards of appeal with ECHR 6.1 ‘independent tribunal’, i would encourage the complainants to escalate to the ECHR.

Germany has a tradition to protect the EPO.

Concerned observer
JANUARY 13, 2023 AT 7:12 PM
The ECtHR also has a tradition to protect (other) international organisations.

Concerned observer
JANUARY 12, 2023 AT 1:31 PM
Spooky! It is almost as if I have a crystal ball:

https://www.bundesverfassungsgericht.de/SharedDocs/Entscheidungen/DE/2022/11/rs20221108_2bvr248010.html

Whilst there is still a lot for me to digest in the decision, a particularly noteworthy point is that the complaint filed by a UK legal entity was deemed inadmissible, but only because the BVerG did not issue their decision prior to Brexit. As Brexit happened nearly 7 years after the relevant complaint was filed, this result seems more than a little harsh on the UK-based complainant!

If I understand the decision correctly, it also seems to conclude that LEGAL entities based outside of the EU are not entitled to protections provided by Germany’s Basic Law … INCLUDING the protection that is supposed to guarantee equality before the law. No doubt there is much more to this than meets the eye. However, it does seem to be a curious conclusion, especially if one considers its potential implications (eg with respect to enforcement of rights guaranteed under the ECHR).

It’s hard not to be cynical. ECHR should also look into the mischief of Team UPC, basically seeking to break laws, violate constitutions and conventions, then blackmail Techrights to stop criticism of these abuses. The German government harbours one heck of a “patent mafia” at this point.

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