04.10.21

EPOLeaks on Misleading the Bundestag — Part 12: A Worthy Successor to His Mentor?

Posted in Europe, Finance, Patents at 2:08 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Series index:

  1. The EPO Bundestagate — Part 1: How the Bundestag Was (and Continues to be) Misled About EPO Affairs
  2. The EPO Bundestagate — Part 2: Lack of Parliamentary Oversight, Many Questions and Few Answers…
  3. The EPO Bundestagate — Part 3: A “Minor Interpellation” in the German Bundestag
  4. The EPO Bundestagate — Part 4: Parroting the GDPR-Compliance Myth
  5. The EPO Bundestagate — Part 5: The Federal Eagle’s Disconcerting Metamorphosis
  6. EPOLeaks on Misleading the Bundestag — Part 6: Dr Petri Starts the Ball Rolling…
  7. EPOLeaks on Misleading the Bundestag — Part 7: Ms Voßhoff Alerts the Bundestag…
  8. EPOLeaks on Misleading the Bundestag — Part 8: The EPO’s Tweedledum, Raimund Lutz
  9. EPOLeaks on Misleading the Bundestag — Part 9: A Veritable Virtuoso of Legal Sophistry
  10. EPOLeaks on Misleading the Bundestag — Part 10: A Faithful Lapdog Despised and Reviled by EPO Staff
  11. EPOLeaks on Misleading the Bundestag — Appendix (Benoît Battistelli’s Vichy Syndrome): Georges Henri Léon Battistelli and Charles Robert Battistelli
  12. EPOLeaks on Misleading the Bundestag — Part 11: The BMJV’s Tweedledee: Dr Christoph Ernst
  13. You are here ☞ A Worthy Successor to His Mentor?

Christoph Ernst money series
Ernst’s professional background is in taxation law and corporate accounting standards.

Summary: We examine the role of Christoph Ernst in EPO management, both in the Benoît Battistelli era and the António Campinos era (plenty to hide)

Christoph Ernst’s sudden rise to prominence in the governance circles of the European Patent Organisation is somewhat enigmatic in view of the fact that his professional background and expertise lies in the area of taxation law, corporate accounting and financial reporting standards.

“…there is no indication that he had any prior involvement with IP and patent law matters before 2011, when his name first crops up in the records of the Administrative Council as the new head of the German delegation following the appointment of Raimund Lutz as EPO Vice-President.”Puff pieces which have appeared the IP media have regularly claimed that Ernst has “extensive knowledge of intellectual property”. However, there is no indication that he had any prior involvement with IP and patent law matters before 2011, when his name first crops up in the records of the Administrative Council as the new head of the German delegation following the appointment of Raimund Lutz as EPO Vice-President.

We remind readers that during the first decade and a half of his career at the German Justice Ministry, Ernst had languished in relative obscurity as a humble Undersecretary (“Ministerialrat”) working in the area of financial reporting and accounting standards.

Back in those days his public profile was limited to occasional appearances as an guest speaker at the annual symposia of little-known academic discussion groups for economic policy wonks such as the Ulm Forum for Economic Studies (“Ulmer Forum für Wirtschaftswissenschaften”).

Christoph Ernst in 2006
Ernst as a guest speaker at an obscure policy wonks’ symposium in 2006.

Ernst’s career at the Justice Ministry started to take off following his appointment as head of the BilMoG project. From 2007 onwards he was suddenly in great demand as a guest speaker at various corporate accounting events [PDF] sponsored by the likes of Handelsblatt and Price Waterhouse Coopers. His newly acquired popularity in these circles was due to his insider knowledge of the impending reform of corporate accounting law.

Christoph Ernst banking
Due to his insider knowledge of the BilMog, Ernst was in great demand as a guest speaker at corporate accounting events sponsored by the likes of Handelsblatt and Price Waterhouse Coopers.

In May 2010 Ernst was promoted to the position of Deputy Director General (“Ministerialdirigent”) in the Justice Ministry´s Commercial and Intellectual Property Law Department.

In April 2011, shortly after Lutz had taken up his new post as EPO Vice-President, Ernst was appointed as his successor to head the German delegation on the EPO’s Administrative Council.

After that whenever Lutz turned up for a photo-op at some IP junket or EPO extravaganza, Ernst was almost certain to be seen in close proximity, grinning like the proverbial Cheshire Cat.

The pictures below show Lutz with Ernst at a junket organised by the German Federal Patent Court in 2011 and with Boards of Appeal President (Carl Josefsson) and the Mayor of Haar (Gabriele Müller) at the formal inauguration of the new Boards of Appeal premises in Haar in December 2017. (warning: epo.org link)

Christoph Ernst and Lutz
Ernst was frequently seen in the company of EPO Vice-President Lutz (these photos are from 2011 and 2017, left and right respectively).

For EPO staff, Ernst’s tenure as Chair of the Administrative Council was hugely disappointing because he turned out to be every bit as subservient to Battistelli as his predecessor, Kongstad.

Although Ernst was described as a “moderate critic” of Battistelli by JUVE in June 2017 (copy here [PDF]), it soon became clear that he was – as Techrights put it – "just a megaphone of Battistelli’s EPO" and – just like Kongstad – another one of "Battistelli's protectors".

Indeed it hardly seems to be an exaggeration to say that following Ernst’s appointment as Chairman of the Council, Battistelli ended up with not just one but two subservient German “Duckmäuser” at his disposal: one in-house, in charge of his Legal and International Affairs Department, and the other conveniently in charge of the Organisation’s governing body.

In June 2018 – as Battistelli’s departure from the EPO was imminent – Kluwer Patent Blog published a farewell article about the “tarnished reputation of an EPO President”.

At around the same time Techrights reported on calls for Ernst “to be forced by national politicians to step down with immediate effect”.

However, it would appear that the main concern of Ernst’s boss, Justice Minister Heiko Mass, was to preserve the German share of the “loot” from the EPO’s "Dukatenesel". Maas would never have dared to upset the apple cart by calling his “Ministerialdirigent” to account.

And Ernst, for his part, had no intention of falling on his own sword voluntarily.

Au contraire, as he approached the statutory retirement age in 2018, he allowed himself to be rewarded by his buddies on the Administrative Council with a cushy little sinecure [PDF] as the next EPO Vice-President for International and Legal Affairs.

Christoph Ernst revolving doors
In 2018, Ernst was rewarded by his buddies on the Council with a well-paid sinecure as EPO Vice-President.

Thus, in addition to his entitlement to a generous public sector pension for previous service in the Justice Ministry, Ernst is now in receipt of a juicy five-digit monthly tax-free salary as an EPO Vice-President.

Unfortunately, his track record as Vice-President so far has been every bit as disappointing as his earlier track record as Administrative Council Chairman – although cynics might be inclined to say that he is indeed a worthy successor to his mentor Raimund Lutz.

Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, Ernst was rarely seen on EPO premises. During 2019, he seems to have spent most of his time on “duty missions” travelling to attend various IP junkets and boondoggles around the globe, particularly in the Far East.

He has also been implicated in the "Doyen for a Yen" scandal where the former Vice-President Željko Topić managed to become a European Patent Attorney without passing the European Qualifying Examination.

As reported by Techrights, Topić’s bogus application to be registered as a European Patent Attorney must have been rubber-stamped by EPO Directorate 5.2.3 which falls under the responsibility of Christoph Ernst as Vice President of DG5.

Furthermore, Ernst has conspicuously failed to press for the adoption of appropriate measures to ensure that the EPO’s data protection framework is truly fit for purpose for the twenty-first century.

Instead of doing what badly needs to be done in this regard, Ernst seems to be content to sit on his hands and continue peddling the untenable EPOnian myth of GDPR-compliance which he inherited from his mentor Lutz.

In the next part we will continue our review of Ernst’s role in EPO affairs by looking into the failed promise of a self-styled “good governance” guru.

04.04.21

Microsoft as Large Military Contractor, Living Off Taxpayers’ Money

Posted in Finance, Microsoft at 4:11 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Older: Microsoft Looking to be ‘Bailed Out’ by Militarism, Imperialism, Racism and Fascism

Summary: The video above (download link) talks about what Microsoft nowadays does to ensure it remains relevant, even if that means killing a lot of people and committing crimes against humanity

THE old monopoly of Microsoft is waning (market share of Windows at around 31%) and Free software makes gains on every front. Sure, we don’t run TV commercials to boast about the world running on Free software (more and more so over time). But it’s definitely happening.

“Microsoft has, in recent years, become one of those “Big Tech” monopolies that are living on subsidies and taxpayers’ money, which doesn’t even exist but manifests itself through soaring debt levels (or ‘money-printing’).”Absent from the corporate/mainstream media is a simple explanation of the growing debt in the US (soon exceeding 30 trillion dollars), which is tied to military expenditures and imperialism. An imperialistic overstretch is killing what’s left of the middle class and all that money ends up in few private pockets, in effect enriching themselves by enslaving and bombing millions of people.

Microsoft has, in recent years, become one of those “Big Tech” monopolies that are living on subsidies and taxpayers' money, which doesn’t even exist but manifests itself through soaring debt levels (or ‘money-printing’). The video above discusses those things. An article on this matter will soon follow.

03.23.21

[Meme] EPO Robbed

Posted in Europe, Finance, Fraud, Patents at 11:19 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

You don't need to rob the EPO... When you control the EPO

Summary: A toxic mix or dangerous cocktail of diplomatic immunity and greed

EPO Robbery Under the Shadow of Pandemic Sweeping Across Europe

Posted in Europe, Finance, Patents at 10:55 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Old Icelandic Cashiers

Old cash drawSummary: The EPO is being looted by corrupt management which gaslights the staff and turns the Office into somewhat of a laughing stock (even stakeholders have grown impatient, seeing that justice itself ceased to exist in EPOnia)

The Central Staff Committee of the EPO has just circulated the following document. It shows that António Campinos isn’t more credible than Benoît Battistelli and the money only flows outwards to a financial scam, rather than to staff which does all the actual work (under exceptional circumstances).

Here’s what it says:

Zentraler Personalausschuss
Central Staff Committee
Le Comité Central du Personnel

Munich 22.03.2021
sc21040cp – 0.2.1/4.2.1

Reward exercise for pandemic year 2020
“Strong Together” but 30% of staff excluded

In a meeting with the Central Staff Committee on 24 February 2021, Mr Campinos announced that “in view of the efforts of staff to ensure business continuity under the challenging pandemic conditions, up to 70% of staff will be able to receive a pensionable reward” and confirmed his intention in an Intranet publication the following day. Mr Campinos has now tabled to the General Consultative Committee his “President’s Instructions on Rewards 2021” effectively confirming that 30% of eligible staff will be excluded. The document also reveals that Mr Campinos has even downsized the budget available for rewards despite massive savings made on the salary adjustment procedure.

2020, the first Covid-19 year…
The year 2020 was a challenge for all staff. When the Covid-19 pandemic broke out, EPO management put the focus on ensuring business continuity at all costs. Home-working, paperless and home-schooling became the rule. Constantly changing new digital procedures and tools were introduced. Thanks to the dedication of EPO staff, by the end of 2020 the EPO annual cash surplus amounted to at least EUR 310m (CA/56/20). When presenting1 the February 2021 analysis2 “Intellectual property rights and firm performance in the European Union”, Mr Campinos explained that “[t]he stronger your IPR portfolio, the better your business performs. And IPR-owning businesses don’t just generate more revenue, their employees earn more too.” Likewise, EPO staff should be thanked for making such achievements possible even during the pandemic.

… but downsizing the available budget
Mr Campinos presented in the Budget and Finance Committee (BFC) and the Administrative Council (AC) a draft budget 2021(CA/50/20) foreseeing:

- a salary adjustment of 2,2% bringing the basic salary mass3 to EUR 1.020.395.000;
- a budget for pensionable rewards4 of EUR 13.400.000 and of EUR 12.856.9775 for bonuses.
____
1 EPO post of 19 February 2021 on LinkedIn
2 “According to this analysis, firms that own IPRs generate 20% higher revenues per employee than their counterparts without an IP portfolio. The highest revenue-per-employee gains are linked to bundles of trademarks, with performance premiums of 63% for trade mark and design owners, and 60% for combined patent, trade mark and design owners. Firms that own IPRs also pay on average 19% higher wages than firms that do not.”
3 CA/50/20 page 67
4 CA/50/20 page 168
5 CA/50/20 page 169


However, Mr Campinos’ disastrous reform of the salary adjustment procedure capping the increase of global salary mass at Eurozone inflation (0,3%) + 0.2% had a massive impact in the final budget (CA/D 1/20):

- the salary adjustment of 0,5% decreased the expected salary mass6 to EUR 1.002.075.000
- the budget for pensionable rewards almost remained almost unchanged EUR 13.490.000 and the budget for bonuses was reduced at EUR 12.626.145

As a result of the new salary adjustment procedure, Mr Campinos made between the two documents savings of EUR 18.320.000 at the expense of staff without making any compensation effort on the budget for rewards.

Doubling down against staff, Mr Campinos has now tabled to the General Consultative Committee (GCC) his “President’s Instructions on Rewards 2021” (GCC/DOC 1/2021) which reduce the budget for rewards even further:

Pensionable Bonuses Rewards Total
Draft Budget 2021 (CA/50/20) 13.400.000 12.856.977 26.256.977
Annual Budget 2021 (CA/D 1/20) 13.490.000 12.626.145 26.116.145
President‘s Instructions (GCC/DOC 1/2021) 12.100.000 10.500.000 22.600.000
Downsizing of rewards budget -1.300.000 -2.356.977 -3.656.977

“Strong Together”?
How companies treat employees during a crisis reveal their true values. The way they reward them is one of them. Even when making at least EUR 310m surplus and unexpected savings of EUR 18 million, Mr Campinos cuts the budget for rewards by a further EUR -3.6 million. It shows that, contrary to what Mr Campinos promised after the Financial Study 2019, when the Organisation makes more savings than expected, these are not redistributed to staff.

We are still in a pandemic situation and with different pressures on each of us. It is morally questionable to maintain a competition-based system that goes blatantly against the values of cooperation that the administration propagates, thereby excluding 30% of eligible staff. Such a regressive and non-inclusive policy is impossible to reconcile with the “Strong Together” message the Office is trying to convey.

Mr Campinos has still full room for manoeuvre to show his recognition of the efforts of EPO staff by rewarding each staff member with a pensionable reward, especially during a pandemic. Not to do so will be his decision.

The Central Staff Committee

____
6 CA/D 1/20 page 57

The EPO has become so rogue that it cares neither about Europe nor its very own staff (people who do all the acual work). As we noted the other day, stakeholders are starting to notice that this whole thing is coming down, even justice itself. They’ve accused the EPO of likely spying on IP Kat comments and putting some of their own there. Weeks after a besieged panel said “OK” to some European software patents (dubious decision tainted by Campinos intervening) we now see EPO management crucified for meddling in another case or stacking the panel. Hours ago somebody wrote: “A question. The deemed date of receipt of the summons is Saturday 27th March. Does the two month period under Rule 115 EPC start on the 27th or the 29th March?”

“As we noted the other day, stakeholders are starting to notice that this whole thing is coming down, even justice itself.”The more interesting comments are above that one, but we still don’t know if Rose (AstraZeneca) deletes some of the better comments (we just know she deleted quite a few) and whether EPO management is pressuring them behind the scenes, as they did before…

Interesting times for sure.

03.17.21

EPO and Microsoft Collude to Break the Law — Part XII: Foreign Corrupt Practices, Bid Rigging and “Slush Funds”

Posted in Finance, Fraud, Microsoft at 5:31 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Previous parts:

FCPA

Summary: Microsoft has come under repeated scrutiny for alleged breaches of the FCPA

In the last part we saw how Microsoft has repeatedly featured on the radar of anti-trust regulators and has come under scrutiny for its anti-competitive practices on both sides of the Atlantic.

But anti-competitive practices are not the only reason why the company has attracted unwanted attention from regulators.

“…anti-competitive practices are not the only reason why the company has attracted unwanted attention from regulators.”In its home country, the Redmond behemoth has also been subject to investigation by the Department of Justice (DoJ) and the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) due to suspected violations of the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) which prohibits US companies, as well as entities acting on their behalf, from bribing foreign officials.

Back in March 2013, it was reported that the DoJ and the SEC were investigating Microsoft in connection with an alleged kickback scheme operated by the company in China, as well as irregularities in its relationships between itself and resellers in Italy and Romania.

According to the Wall Street Journal the investigation was started after an anonymous tipster spilt the beans to US investigators in 2012. It was alleged that at least one Microsoft executive in China gave instructions to offer unspecified kickbacks to Chinese government officials in exchange for green-lighting Microsoft contracts.

In Italy, the investigation centered on how Microsoft handled deals with consultants there. The WSJ’s report claimed that Microsoft consultants that worked in customer loyalty-related positions would offer gifts like trips to acquisition officials as barter for government contracts.

“It was alleged that at least one Microsoft executive in China gave instructions to offer unspecified kickbacks to Chinese government officials in exchange for green-lighting Microsoft contracts.”The Romanian investigation related to Microsoft’s involvement with its resellers allegedly offering “bribes” to win large government contracts with the Ministry of Communications.

Later on, in August of the same year, it was reported that federal investigators had extended their inquiry to include Microsoft partners in Pakistan and Russia.

In Russia, an anonymous tipster told Microsoft that resellers of its software allegedly funneled kickbacks to executives of a state-owned company to win a deal.

In Pakistan, a tipster alleged that Microsoft authorized a consulting firm to cover the expenses for a five-day trip to Egypt for a government official and his wife in order to win a tender. The contract Microsoft won in this case was reportedly worth USD 9 million and was signed three months after the paid trip to Egypt.

Giving bribes
The ‘Microsoftgate’ scandal rocked Romania in 2014

There isn’t a lot of information out there about the result of the US FCPA investigations that were launched in 2013. It seems to be almost impossible to find any details about what became of the investigations into the Chinese kickback scheme and the other alleged irregularities in Italy, Russia and Pakistan.

“In Pakistan, a tipster alleged that Microsoft authorized a consulting firm to cover the expenses for a five-day trip to Egypt for a government official and his wife in order to win a tender.”What is a matter of public record, however, is that Microsoft’s shenanigans in Romania led to a domestic criminal investigation and triggered a major political scandal in that country, known as the Microsoft licensing corruption affair or “Microsoftgate” for short.

This was reputed to be the “biggest ever” corruption case in Romania and it rocked the country’s political establishment as local investigations progressed during 2013 and 2014.

Nine government ministers from the education, finance and communication ministries of various governments stood accused of approving contracts selling IT licenses to Romanian schools at highly inflated prices. Damages linked to the case were estimated at €53.7 million.

As things turned out, most of the former government officials were charged with abuse of office after the 10-year statute of limitations had already expired. The contract for the first Microsoft IT licence was signed in 2004 and most of the indictments were not filed until 2015. Whether this was due to incompetence on the part of the prosecutors or the result of corruption is unclear.

“The contract for the first Microsoft IT licence was signed in 2004 and most of the indictments were not filed until 2015. Whether this was due to incompetence on the part of the prosecutors or the result of corruption is unclear.”In any event most of the charges were dropped in 2018 due to this prosecutorial cock-up.

Nevertheless, the case did have some success in terms of convictions. Former communications minister Gabriel Sandu, a former mayor Gheorghe Stefan from the town of Piatra Neamt in northeastern Romania, and businessmen Nicolae Dumitru and Dorin Cocos were jailed after they admitted to accepting bribes from people interested in getting the contracts through.

Sandu, who was Romania’s communications minister between 2008 and 2010, allegedly favoured a company owned by local investors Dinu Pescariu and Claudiu Florica and granted it the contract to supply Microsoft licenses to state institutions for a year without a public tender, according to the prosecutors.

After his conviction, Sandu filed a denouncement with the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) in 2017. In his denouncement which he made public he claimed that former president Basescu, former prime minister Emil Boc as well as former US ambassadors, Nicholas Frank Taubman and Mark H. Gitenstein, pressured him into making payments to the firm represented by Pescariu and Florica and that former Microsoft Romania managers were also allegedly involved in the scheme.

The dust from the licensing corruption affair in Romania had hardly begun to settle when Microsoft was back in the news again.

“The dust from the licensing corruption affair in Romania had hardly begun to settle when Microsoft was back in the news again.”At the end of November 2018, a whistleblower lodged an FCPA complaint with the SEC alleging malfeasance in connection with a South African Department of Defence software procurement contract.

The contract which was worth EUR 6.6 million (ZAR 120 million in local currency) was awarded to EOH Mthombo a subsidiary of the EOH Group, a South African conglomerate specialising in the provision of technology services to businesses and government.

At the time in question EOH Mthombo was a reseller of Microsoft software licences via a Microsoft Channel Partner agreement.

The whistleblower accused Microsoft of being complicit in allowing EOH Mthombo to engage in a “corrupt” licensing transaction with the Department of Defence.

Microsoft extricated itself from the South African affair by terminating its partner agreement with EOH Mthombo in March 2019.

“The whistleblower accused Microsoft of being complicit in allowing EOH Mthombo to engage in a “corrupt” licensing transaction with the Department of Defence.”Some months later, in July 2019, Microsoft hit the headlines again in the USA this time in connection with another FCPA investigation involving its subsidiaries in Hungary, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Thailand.

According to the SEC, Microsoft’s subsidiary in Hungary provided discounts on software licenses to its resellers, distributors and other third parties. Instead of passing on the discounts to Microsoft’s government customers, the discounts were used to fund improper payments intended for foreign government officials to secure software license sales for Microsoft.

The SEC also found that Microsoft’s subsidiaries in Saudi Arabia and Thailand provided improper travel and gifts to both foreign government officials and employees of non-government customers funded through slush funds maintained by Microsoft’s vendors and resellers. In Saudi Arabia a USD 440,000 “slush fund” was “used to pay travel expenses for Saudi government employees and for gifts, furniture, laptops, tablets and other equipment for government agencies.”

Executives in Microsoft’s wholly-owned subsidiary in Turkey were found to have approved an excessive discount in a transaction involving the Ministry of Culture. Microsoft’s records did not reflect what services, if any, a third-party system integrator provided, and there was no evidence that the discount was passed on to the government customer.

According to the SEC, “Microsoft failed to make and keep adequate documentation related to third party vendors, consultants, distributors and resellers and failed to devise and maintain a sufficient system of internal accounting controls throughout the relevant time.”

On 22 July 2019 the SEC announced that Microsoft had agreed to pay more than USD 16 million to settle charges that it violated the FCPA in connection with its operations in these four foreign based subsidiaries and that it has violated the books and records and internal accounting controls provisions of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.

Without admitting or denying the SEC’s findings, Microsoft consented to a cease-and-desist order and agreed to pay disgorgement of USD 13.78 million and prejudgment interest of USD 2.78 million.

“The SEC also found that Microsoft’s subsidiaries in Saudi Arabia and Thailand provided improper travel and gifts to both foreign government officials and employees of non-government customers funded through slush funds maintained by Microsoft’s vendors and resellers.”The settlement also included an agreement on the part of Microsoft’s wholly-owned Hungarian subsidiary to pay a criminal penalty of more than USD 8.7 million to resolve the federal investigation into violations of the FCPA connected with the sale of Microsoft software licenses to Hungarian government agencies.

Microsoft appears to have successfully bought its way out of trouble on this occasion.

The negative PR for the company was limited by the fact that the bid-rigging and bribery affair in Hungary didn’t cause any significant domestic political fallout in contrast to the “shit-storm” unleashed by the “Microsoftgate” corruption scandal in Romania in 2014.

Meanwhile, in Thailand, there was a request from the non-governmental organisation Anti-Corruption Organisation of Thailand (ACT) urging the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) to investigate the Microsoft bribery case.

ACT secretary-general, Mana Nimitmongkol, made the call in response to reports of Microsoft’s settlement with the SEC: “Now that the issue is public knowledge, the NACC has a duty to tell the public about what happened, and what it plans to do about it,” Mr Mana said. “They can’t just turn a blind eye to it.”

Unfortunately there is no record of any subsequent investigation by the Thai NACC.

The reluctance of the NACC to investigate might be connected with Microsoft’s role in Thailand which has been described as that of “a key player and partner in Thailand’s digital transformation process” and its lead position in “advising business and government leaders … on AI technology”.

“Microsoft appears to have successfully bought its way out of trouble on this occasion.”That concludes our synopsis of Microsoft’s involvement in alleged violations of the US FCPA.

As we move towards the concluding phase of this series we intend to return to the main focus, namely the questionable nature of Microsoft’s prominent role in the EPO’s current “digital transformation process”.

Before tackling this issue in more detail we will take a look at another aspect of Microsoft’s activities which seems to be of significance here, namely its position as a leading player in the global ‘IP’ arena.

03.08.21

The Banality of Bribery

Posted in Deception, Finance, Google, OSI at 12:03 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: To understand why institutions defend and sometimes even give awards for the very things they claim to be against one must examine the flow of money (with strings attached to it)

THE Linux Foundation is all about bribery, but it bears the name “Linux”, so we’re meant to ignore the real business model and the real purpose of this so-called ‘foundation’, in effect a tax-evading operation that acts as a shim between monopolies and publishers they’re looking to corrupt.

“The only solution is to reject those bribes and also reject those who accept such bribes (because they become part of that very same lobbying machine — an enabler for monopolies, albeit in sheep clothing).”This so-called ‘foundation’ is also a force of occupation against real communities. It’s not alone. Several other institutions (SFC and OSI come to mind) followed the footsteps of this so-called ‘foundation’. They take money from companies like Google and Microsoft and they help cement monopolies, and by doing so they tarnish the Linux brand/trademark. More recently we saw this brand being used to privacy-wash surveillance (“confidential computing”), whitewash patents on software, greenwash Microsoft, and openwash Google. The list of examples is seemingly endless.

Restricted bootBribes don’t always manifect in a ‘classical’ form; bribes can be favours to be later returned in some form, sometimes not even directly (e.g. job offer to a spouse or cousin). We’ve seen examples of that at the EPO (where Benoît Battistelli and António Campinos literally offer top jobs for unequalified spouses).

For those of us who still pursue software freedom and still value “Linux” as a brand (even if when most people mention that word they mean GNU/Linux) all this truly matters. We need to talk about it. We must speak about this openly, just like we should constantly berate the illegal practice of granting European software patents that are an attack on all software developers (not just Free/libre programs are affected). When companies like Apple, Microsoft, IBM, and Google viciously lobby to make such patents the norm (partly by bribing groups that merely claim to represent the “community” or “open source”) we stand to lose in a very major way. The only solution is to reject those bribes and also reject those who accept such bribes (because they become part of that very same lobbying machine — an enabler for monopolies, albeit in sheep clothing).

UEFI award
Award for UEFI. He now trolls for Google, pushing fake security (actually an attack on security) made for Intel and IBM/Red Hat, another past employer.

FSF sponsors 2014
FSF sponsors at the time.

02.27.21

SCO’s Darl McBride is Finished (Bankruptcy)

Posted in Finance, SCO at 2:15 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Video download link

Summary: Some news about the site and about the long-forgotten SCO, whose infamous old (and sacked) Darl McBride (responsible for decade-long attacks on Linux) loses everything, based on fresh legal documents

THIS weekend has been exceptionally busy for us, hence not many articles so far. This video gives a quick roundup of stuff we’ve been working on and discusses the good news about SCO’s Darl McBride, whose personal bankruptcy follows that of SCO. He became completely irrelevant if not inactive in Twitter.

“Hopefully António and his “Mafia” (or cabal) will be gone soon; the Administrative Council needs to recognise the severity of the entryism.”Some time soon we plan to release some AGPLv3-licensed code, mostly Gemini stuff (but not limited to Gemini). Gemini space is rapidly growing and interest in Gemini is increasing in general, owing to the World Wide Web sucking so badly and social control media repelling the masses.

Darl McBrideWe’re still thinking whether to create new facilities or methods by which to leak information to us. The leaks have had a very positive effect for EPO staff. António Campinos has lost his mind and revealed himself to be loyal to Team Battistelli, not to EPO staff. Hopefully António and his “Mafia” (or cabal) will be gone soon; the Administrative Council needs to recognise the severity of the entryism.

02.16.21

More Broken Promises as EPO Management Pretends That the Office is Poor (While Looting Its Treasury for Personal Gain)

Posted in Europe, Finance, Patents at 6:56 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Video download link

Summary: The big scandal that the media and even the Commission still turn a blind eye to sees the workers of the EPO (even former workers or pensioners) robbed by EPO management, which abuses its granting authority to hoard money and then gamble with that money; staff isn’t amused

Earlier this week we mentioned the impact on parents [1, 2] who had chosen to work for Europe’s largest patent office. Some of them had to take their entire family abroad for this career path. This is no small potatoes. Many family members are affected, not just working parents.

“If the EPO cannot assure basic labour rights, and if amid all this there’s also a financial scandal going on (an office pretending to be poor when it fact it is being robbed), what hope is there for the rest of Europe’s workers?”Using COVID-19 as a pretext, never mind if the policies have nothing whatsoever to do with public health, various employers crack down on staff’s rights. One might expect that the world’s public or international institutions would keep up with higher standards than that. But no…

MoneyThe Central Staff Committee of the EPO wrote about “Education and Childcare reform” some time yesterday when it circulated the document above. “Report on the fifth (and last?) meeting of the Working Group,” it said, noting that there are signs that António Campinos is shutting off even the pretense of dialogue (he’s worse than Benoît Battistelli in many regards, as the union routinely notes). “On 4 February, the fifth (and last?) meeting of the Working Group on Education & Childcare allowances took place between the administration and staff representation,” they write. There’s then a breakdown of what was discussed:

The following main items were discussed:

– The date of entry into force of the reform. On 18.12.2020 we sent a letter – still unanswered – asking for clarification of the apparent contradiction between announcements of 30.07.2020 and 07.12.2020. In the meeting, the administration made it clear that the reform would enter into force on 1 July 2021 and be implemented for the school year 2021-2022.

– Revised ceilings for Berlin and Vienna (€15.621 and €17.753 for primary and secondary school respectively).

– The fact that the proposed reform is not cost-neutral but that it would lead to considerable savings for the Office.

– The fact that only siblings aged 3-4 are included in the transitional measures.

– The proposal of the administration for the childcare allowance, with a lumpsum of €346 per child and a top-up sum up to €575 per child on condition that the child attends a childcare facility, with no site-specific solutions.

“The administration has cancelled the next meeting of the Working Group,” they note, which is why they insist this might be the last such meeting (more like a webchat at this point; they don’t meet face to face). They recently complained about the mass cancellation of meetings, which no longer necessitate even travel or other such logistics. Here’s the full document, which was circulated yesterday:

Zentraler Personalausschuss
Central Staff Committee
Le Comité Central du Personnel

Munich – 15.02.2021
sc21016cp- 0.2.1/4.2.2

Report on the fifth meeting of the Working Group on Education & Childcare allowances

Dear colleagues,

On 4 February, the fifth meeting of the Working Group on Education & Childcare allowances took place between the administration and staff representation.

The first item in the agenda was the date of entry into force of the reform. On 18.12.2020 we sent a letter – still unanswered – asking for clarification of the apparent contradiction between the announcements of 30.07.2020 and 07.12.2020.

In his communiqué of 30.07.2020 the President had assured “a smooth and gradual transition”, anticipating that “measures related to school children will be implemented for the school year 2022-2023”. However, at the meeting the administration made it clear that the reform would be presented to the AC of June and that, contrary to the July 2020 announcement, it would enter into force on 1 July 2021 and be implemented for the school year 2021-2022. The transitional measures should therefore apply to children who were already enrolled in school on 1 July 2021.

The second item in the agenda was the special situation of Berlin and Vienna. The administration presented a proposal with revised ceilings for these sites (€15.621 and €17.753 for primary and secondary school respectively).

Thirdly, we discussed the demographic data of the children we had received from the administration on 25 January. With these data we could calculate the costs relying on the age pyramid. We were then able to show how the proposed reform is not cost-neutral but that it would indeed lead to considerable savings for the Office.

We also warned them of the legal consequences of abolishing the principle of equal treatment of distinct groups presently guaranteed in the Service Regulations.

Next, the administration presented a series of new budgetary scenarios in their transitional measures for the inclusion of siblings, the scenarios differing according to age thresholds of the siblings. So far, only siblings aged 3-4 are included in their transitional measures.

The last item concerned the childcare allowance. The administration presented the latest revision of their proposal, namely a lumpsum of €346 per child on condition that the child do not use childcare facilities, and a top-up sum up to €575 per child on condition that the child attends a childcare facility. They did not propose any site-specific solutions.

Once again, the administration refused to negotiate the terms of the reform.

The next meeting of the Working Group should have taken place on 15 February. However, the administration has just cancelled the meeting1 and asked us to give our comments in writing on only three items, namely the childcare allowance, the education allowance for Berlin/Vienna and the transitional measures for siblings.

We will keep you informed.

Your Central Staff Committee

____
1 We have asked the President for reasons: see our publication “Social dialogue: meetings cancelled”.

If the EPO cannot assure basic labour rights, and if amid all this there’s also a financial scandal going on (an office pretending to be poor when it fact it is being robbed), what hope is there for the rest of Europe’s workers?

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