Summary: Words heard through the grapevine of the European Patent Office (EPO), where staff is overwhelmingly against the managers and some people, including high-profile staff, add to the exodus
TECHRIGHTS has repeatedly advised readers to contact their national delegates regarding EPO abuses. We also suggest speaking to European politicians, “but the question is whether the Ministers are going to do anything about it,” one reader of ours said. Well, some of them are increasingly vocal on these matters (we gave an example earlier today) and there are also interventions behind the scenes (which we are aware of).
“Minnoye, who´s regarded as a totally incompetent VP, is hated by the directors, too…”
–AnonymousThis site’s involvement in these matters began a long time ago, but mostly focused on software patents in Europe. Half a decade ago I wrote to EBoA on the subject. Software patents are part of a broader issue which we often call patent maximalism. This includes GMO/seed monopolies (e.g. patents on plants), artificially high pricing on life-saving medicine (where research is often funded by taxpayers anyway) and other such issues that brought a lot of EPO critics to this kind of campaigning in the first place.
Abuses by the EPO against applicants and against EPO staff is something we only became better aware of in recent years. Staff unions too have been critical of patent maximalism; maybe that’s why (amongst other reasons) the patent maximalists cannot tolerate them and Battistelli is trying to crush them. “I cannot believe he´s going to finish his term,” one reader told us about him. This reader works for Battistelli. We learned that “the rumour about his leaving was spread even by one of the directors [...] if Battistelli falls, the whole bunch will fall [...] Minnoye, who´s regarded as a totally incompetent VP, is hated by the directors, too [...] If you could read the Gazette you would see how many people are voting with their feet [...] a lot of staff retire before time and it´s not only examiners but also directors and a PD (principal director) [...] even the Brussels man has retired although he was relatively young” (we've mentioned the opening here).
“I can´t believe they employed somebody like Topic, with his skeletons in the cupboard…”
–AnonymousThis reader added that “we started employing people with Afghanistan experience now [...] there was also a UK guy with Afghanistan experience [...] in his CV he wrote he spoke: Serbien, Croatian and Bosnian [...] which is rubbish [as] there is no Bosnian language [...] I can´t believe they employed somebody like Topic, with his skeletons in the cupboard [...] they´ll go down all together [as Battistelli] cannot survive years of negative publicity [...] there are too many rumours about him [...] that he will prolong here, that he will move to Paris as president of the UPC [...] the first thing the press should write is about the secret contract [as] it appears that the AC is signing the budget without knowing his bonus and only Kongstad [Chairman] knows about it [...] he should be forced to publish his bonus (allegedly over 1 million – 1.4, 1.5) [...] it´s enough for the newspapers to continue writing each time that his contract is secret.”
So much for ‘public’ body… neither public nor European. █
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“The mask fell”: When millions wasted on PR and busting of unions (or inside sources, as was the case in Volkswagen) just isn’t enough to keep enforcers away
Blatterstelli — as Florian Müller calls him — was already compared to famous criminals on television
Summary: Rumours and a new rant from Battistelli reinforce suspicions that actions are being organised behind the scenes, possibly as part of an upcoming, high-level campaign to unseat/dethrone Battistelli, who has become a reputational disaster to the European Patent Office (EPO), much like Sepp Blatter at FIFA
LAST week we learned about Battistelli’s propaganda event in Rijswijk, whereupon we asked for more details, taken down and composed by those who attended. They obviously did this anonymously, for their own protection.
One anonymous Twitter user wrote about an hour ago: “I hear the administrative council are asking advice from senior judges. Conference at the end of February I think.”
“One can be left wondering whether they want to get rid of the judge who allegedly exposed Team Battistelli, i.e. the alleged whistleblower, or get rid of Battistelli himself (along with others inside his circle, Željko Topić for example).”Judges do not support Battistelli (in fact, board judges defended the suspended judge even under immense pressure) because Battistelli has already broken basic rules in order to ban judges and his own idea of trials is as laughable as it can be. Even when there’s a ruling (after a truly faulty process, without separation of powers) he ignored the ruling and issued his own. Any judge with a clue (or even a law student) would treat Battistelli as the very antithesis of justice. It’s like something straight out of a famous novel or a satirical play. Since there’s no staging or acting here and real people are unjustly being hurt (there are even nervous breakdowns), this is quickly becoming the shame of Europe.
The above hearsay it curious. One can be left wondering whether they want to get rid of the judge who allegedly exposed Team Battistelli, i.e. the alleged whistleblower, or get rid of Battistelli himself (along with others inside his circle, Željko Topić for example). The EPO is in a state of crisis not because staff (such as examiners) is naughty but because the management clearly does not know how to manage. It follows the model or the example demonstrated by Željko Topić in Croatia. It’s something one might expect from the Kremlin, not from the European Union.
“It’s something one might expect from the Kremlin, not from the European Union.”“I´m trying to send that speech report,” wrote a source to us, who had attempted to securely pass to us some information about the self-aggrandising event set up by Team Battistelli, mirroring the likes of FIFA (before the scandals and dismissals).
“THE FARCE GOES ON” is the title of the report. It is an informal “report on Battistelli´s speech in The Hague on February 4,” to quote the outline. Here is some of the information contained therein (with altered formatting and minor omissions). We highlight one particular bit because of its relevance to us:
On February 3 the EPO was abuzz with rumors about the withdrawal/dismissal of B. Battistelli, the president who has been trying hard, and managed more and more successfully, to bring this European institution into disrepute. It would have been too beautiful. The spineless Administrative Council´s reaction has so far been, in the most fortunate cases, to avoid taking blatantly illegal steps but no firm reaction to his tyrannical decisions. Battistelli´s response to the AC´s first weak sign of dissent, the recommendation that BB start a dialogue with the staff representation, resulted in the dismissal of two members and the demotion of a third, which amounts to a spit in the faces of the European delegates. The European press, in its most part preoccupied with more pressing matters and unlikely to shatter the establishment, had slowly started to report on BB´s attack on the examiners´ elected representatives so BB, like any dictator under the siege of external forces, thought a speech would be a great idea in order to bolster his rule [...] Assad does it, Mugabe still does it, Honecker and Ceausescu did it, so sometimes, but fortunately only sometimes, it works.
Fuelled by the EUR 800,000 injection into PR a presidential show was organized in The Hague in the old Soviet Union style on February 4. People were hoarded and screened, told to behave, and at 10 o´clock the show began. Uplifting music accompanied the images of the EPO and after a short introduction by a continuously smiling moderator with French-accented English which mistook the event for the Eurovision contest the president took the pulpit. Pages of positive statistics started rolling on the huge background screen while the president informed the audience that never had the EPO been more successful. Budget, social situation, unitary patent were all mentioned. In particular the low fees achieved by the negotiating skills of the president against the will of several delegations were mentioned (one can ask why were´t the patent fees lowered but raised when the EPO enjoyed such a great year, but that would spoil the festive atmosphere). A small concession was surprisingly offered, a year of review and assessment – “digéstion”, in the words of BB, which means that the process of reducing the EPO pensions will only start next year. Presented were also the “orientations for the future”: financial perspectives, social review, occupational and safety assessment, review of investigation guidelines (whatever this may mean) and … renewed social dialogue [...] The Q&A time was started by a brave but very discoursive examiner whose question, very polite but sufficiently clear in describing the bad atmosphere in the office and the distance between the management and the staff, related to the main present concern, the silencing of the staff. [...] “I´m a strong believer in social dialogue. My INPI colleagues will testify to this.” was Battistelli´s reply, engaging thereafter in a tirade against SUEPO which were supposed to have slighted him during the homeworking negotiations several years before. And then, suddenly, the mask fell. This man who manages to keep his composure most of the time, lost it. “It is not ILOAT that manages the office. It is childish, childish to write to judges in Geneva.”, he retorted, raising his voice menacingly. For a moment we caught a glimpse of the real face of Battistelli, a man who takes any different opinion than his personally and is ready to destroy the lives of those who oppose him. In a now (in)famous interview he described SUEPO as “mafia” after which he started to eliminate his perceived enemies one by one (two fired and one downgraded). Then the screen presented a page entitled “Disciplinary cases” which started with the bullet point “Contrary to allegations, the EPO unequivocally supports freedom of expression and freedom of association. [...] continuing with the following bullet points:
- Disciplinary cases are not launched because of criticisms expressed against the office.
- Sanctions are applied following major breaches of our staff rules and regulations.
The cases involved:
- Active participation in a damaging defamation campaign against the Organisation, the EPO management and individual staff members (One can only ask oneself if the description of the SUEPO by Battistelli as “mafia” does not fall under [...] Direct threats and coercion expressed against staff members and staff representatives; Undue financial and moral pressure against EPO employees Pressure brought against witnesses during investigations and repetitive disclosures of confidential matter.
Then, in red color: “The office has a duty of care to protect all staff members.” After the sanctions in Munich and the pending suspensions in The Hague sentences referring to “supporting freedom of expression” have an Orwellian doublespeak ring to them. Then, among soft questions like the proposal of a name to the new building in The Hague, Battistelli explained the role of financial incentives in the examiners´ careers. Here he would have a point if the examiners received instead of between 1,500 and 2,000 EUR yearly bonus (representing an average of 2% of their yearly salaries) a bonus in the same order of magnitude as the president or the vice-president – seven- and six-figure sums are rumored but cannot be confirmed because Battistelli enjoys, very conveniently but totally against the principle of openness in a European organization, a secret contract).
He then embarked upon discussing parts of the health reform and argued that all has been done for the good of the people. “Il faut degonfler les rumeurs. There is no control at home! Ridiculous! The cutting of the lump sum for invalidity would only facilitate the return to work. All the decisions are medical. I´m pragmatic, ready to change …”
Battistelli then reiterated that there will be no major reform this year but after 2016 there will be discussions with the staff representation and the delegations (who “actually wish the pension reform” – with the tacit understanding that Battistelli will defend the staff rights in front of an aggressive AC!).
Questions about patent administration, classification and educational allowance for non-German or -Dutch staff were addressed and answered vaguely, with a bullet point interspersed:
“Quality is our main priority. We are in competition with other offices. We may be the best but we are the most expensive one.”
On the question regarding the fluctuating number of applications Battistelli gave this opinion conveyed also by VP Minnoye in his directors´ meetings, that “Backlog is a mistake. It is not a safety cushion. It is a big mistake. Backlogs are not a strength. It´s a weakness. We´re going to receive more and more applications.” It seems there are few people outside BB and his VP who are convinced of this …
Finally, likening himself with général de Gaulle (?) Battistelli clarified the matter of his bodyguards. “Europe is not the same as before the Paris attacks. I am French, president of a big European organization. After the Paris attacks both the French and the German police recommended that I should take measures.”
The finale was less glorifying than the beginning but all in all it was a pretty good performance. Battistelli showed himself less motivating than Fidel, less pugnacious than Kim Il Sung, but definitely more engaging than Honecker or Zhivkov.
Any dictator relies on a three-pillared system involving propaganda, fear and the loyalty of the repressive state apparatus. Battistelli is assured of the loyalty of his minions, there´s a certain degree of fear among the staff but his propaganda doesn´t fool anybody at the EPO.
The Administrative Council must finally act and replace Battistelli with somebody it can trust! At present the EPO is run by a loose cannon.
The analogy above is priceless. The President of the Banana Republic known as OPOnia not only brags about working with Colombia (in his 'blog') but also fast-tracking patent examination with Colombia (warning:
epo.org link). This was posted as ‘news’ the other day, after the PR team produced the latest propaganda which no doubt it will force-feed the press with (as it always does). Perhaps the human rights of Colombia (and patent standards) are something that Battistelli can still feel comfortable with.
It is evident from the above report that Battistelli is growing rather worried about judges, who are not only more qualified than him but can also finish his career. We shall leave the report above in tact, both for future reference and for readers’ information. There are many interesting bits in this report. █
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Summary: Things have been heating up since the dismissal of staff representatives at the European Patent Office (EPO) and some even spread rumours about withdrawal/dismissal of the EPO’s President
HAVING already covered the EPO‘s propaganda event a couple of days ago in Rijswijk, we can now move on to some rather interesting news.
Rumours about the withdrawal/dismissal of Battistelli are apparently not correct. He is said to have threatened to resign about a year ago, but he is still inside the EPO. “THE FARCE GOES ON,” told us a source earlier today. “A report on Battistelli´s speech in The Hague on February 4,” the source added, alluding to a longer report that we kindly ask readers to send to us. It´s a report on Battistelli´s speech at The Hague. In part it says: “On February 3 the EPO was abuzz with rumors about the withdrawal/dismissal of B. Battistelli, the president who has been trying hard, and managed more and more successfully, to bring this European institution into disrepute. It would have been too beautiful.”
We are still hoping to get the rest of it. In the mean time, thanks to SUEPO, we now have the following letter, which Union Syndicale Federale (USF) published for everyone to see. It is a self-explanatory letter. SUEPO called it “Letter to J. Kongstad – President of the EPO Council” and added: “In a communiqué, Union Syndicale Federale (USF) reported it is deeply shocked to hear about the latest, disproportionate measures against trade union officials taken at the European Patent Office (EPO) in January 2016. The letter is accessible here.”
We did some OCR, made a local copy of the original letter (just in case), and got the following in HTML form because it merits wider attention (some bits are highlighted, too):
Brussels, 25 January 2016
Mr J. KONGSTA
President of the EPO Council
Dear Mr Kongstad,
Union Syndicale Federale (USF) is deeply shocked to hear about the latest, disproportionate measures against trade union officials taken at the European Patent Office (EPO) in January 2016.
USF, together with numerous external observers and the media, has been following the deteriorating social situation at the EPO, especially since a Dutch Court of Appeal identified breaches of the European Convention of Human Rights at the EPO in its judgement of 17th February 2015.
The EPO has not yet met the requests of the judgement, nor has explained why fundamental rights decided and recognised by all thirty-eight Member States of the European Patent Organisation are inferior to the EPO’s need for autonomy.
The EPO has also not yet explained why it refuses to allow competent national authorities to investigate staff members’ suicides and their causes. In the meantime, the list of incidents of maladministration has grown beyond anyone’s imagination and has seriously stained the reputation of the EPO and the international public service as a whole.
Now, in January 2016, measures unheard of in modern society are being imposed on trade union representatives: one case of serious downgrading and two sackings. It has been reported that internal disciplinary boards recommended far milder sanctions. These recommendations were ignored and arbitrarily replaced by harsher, disproportionate measures.
From information publicly available, it is an obvious conclusion for USF that the charges in the above cases were based on formal confidentiality issues rather than on substance. To misuse a seriously deteriorated social situation so as to orchestrate provocations and construe charges against union representatives is fundamentally conflicting with the duty of care of an international organisation.
Union Syndicate Service Public Europeen — Bruxelles (BE) • Union Syndicale Recherche — Ispra (IT) • Union Syndicale Recherche —Karlsruhe (DE) Union Syndicale Recherche — Petten (NL) ■ European Public Service Union Fusion — Bruxelles (BE) ■ Union Syndicale Office Europeen des Brevets — Berlin (DE) et Den Haag (NL) • Syndicat des Agents du Conseil de (‘Europe — Strasbourg (FR) ■ Union Syndicale Eurocontrol France – Bretigny (FR) • Union Syndicale Ecole Europeenne — Bergen (NL) ■ Union Syndicate Centre Europeen pour le Developpement de la Formation Professionnelle — Thessaloniki (EL) ■ Union Syndicale European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions— Dublin (1E) • Union Syndicale European Training Foundation — Turin (IT) ■ Union Syndicate de l’Institut Universitaire de Firenze (IT) • Union Syndicale Centre de Developpement de I’Entreprise — Bruxelles (BE) ■ Union Syndicale European Agency for Safety & Health at Work — Bilbao (ES) • International and Public Services Organisation — Frankfurt (DE) — Union Syndicate Federale – section Luxembourg (LU) — European Public Service Union — Cour de Justice — Luxembourg (LU) Gewerkschaft des Deutsch-Franzosischen Jugendwerks — Paris (FR) et Berlin (DE).
USF urgently calls upon all EPO organs to annul the decisions taken against trade union representatives.
UDF calls upon all EPO organs to return to the rule of law and sound practice as commonly understood in the 21st century and to take all necessary corrective steps at their next internal meetings in order to avoid further irreparable damage to the Office’s reputation, as well as to the social climate at the EPO.
EPO Administrative Council
Cc: EPO President, Mr. B. Battistelli
Cc: SUEPO Munich, Ms E. Hardon, Mr I. Brumme, Ms M. Weaver
SUEPO added a link to the USF letter to Guy Ryder, Director General of ILO, where many complaints about the EPO have been piling up for years. The letter does not refer directly to the EPO, but SUEPO chose to highlight it by writing: “In a communiqué, Union Syndicale Federale (USF) submits a claim to the Director General of ILO aiming at a specific aspect of the functioning of the Administrative Tribunal of the International Labour Organisation. The corresponding letter is accessible here.”
We kindly ask readers to consider sending us the aforementioned report. We have never (in a decade) compromised the identity of a source and we want this report for future record/reference. █
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Summary: Allegations that Mr. Battistelli “traveled from Paris to Bordeaux to meet the party (Rothschild) to whom he granted this decision in order to help them to defend their case”
Benoît Battistelli’s EPO scandals are not necessarily his first. In the first, second, third and fourth part of this series (together with the teaser) we delved into Battistelli’s history in France, including his days in INPI and Ecole nationale d’administration. The early parts focused on Christine Lagarde and her close ties to Baroness Philippine de Rothschild, a large player in the French wine industry. The case of “Mouton Rothschild vs. Mouton” is therefore worth (re)visiting today. It’s not some obscure case as a lot has been written about it.
As background, we suggest the following readings.
Press reports – English
Press reports – French
There is of course a lot more, but that’s just a sample and a form of background.
“The comment on the French blog site was by a pseudonymous poster called “Mouton Noir” and it relates to an alleged intervention by Battistelli in a trademark dispute being conducted by the Rothschild Group.”We now return to the case of “Mouton Rothschild vs. Mouton” and its relevance to us. For the moment all we have is an allegation that Battistelli in his then role of Director-General of the French National Intellectual Property Office (INPI) made an inappropriate intervention on behalf of Baroness Philippine de Rothschild and Chateau Mouton Rothschild in order to advise them on how best to defend their business interests in the trademark dispute with “Domaine Mouton” (Laurent Mouton).
So far we don’t have any hard evidence to back this up. However, based on the available evidence of connections between Lagarde and Baroness Philippine de Rothschild (covered in previous parts) and the fact that Largarde was Battistelli’s political boss at the time, the allegation seems plausible. In other words, the hypothesis that Largarde could have instructed Battistelli to give advice to Mouton Rothschild to help them out in a trademark dispute doesn’t appear to be completely off-the-wall. But we would like to emphasise that so far we don’t have any ‘smoking gun’ to prove that this actually happened. What we do have are the following comments and some contact/connection details. For readers’ information we will leave some leads to facilitate further investigation, overlapping our own work/investigation.
“It would appear from this that, in his capacity as Director-General of the INPI, Battistelli may have improperly intervened to assist the Rothschild Group in defending its claims to certain disputed trademarks.”We are currently investigating an allegation that Mr. Battistelli may have committed serious misconduct in his capacity as Director-General of the French National Intellectual Property Office (INPI) in a matter concerning the above dispute about trademarks in the French wine industry.
The investigation was triggered by a comment that was posted on the IP Kat site back in October. The IP Kat comment refers back to a comment posted on a French blog site in 2010 in response to a blog entry where a patent applicant was complaining about his treatment by the INPI. The comment on the French blog site was by a pseudonymous poster called “Mouton Noir” and it relates to an alleged intervention by Battistelli in a trademark dispute being conducted by the Rothschild Group.
The original comment in French reads as follows:
je voulais apporter de l’eau à votre moulin.
Savez-vous que monsieur Benoît Battistelli est un élu UMP à St germain en laye ? Et qu’il est très apprécié de Christine Lagarde ?
Savez-vous aussi qu’étant impartial, quand il y a un recours contre sa décision, il fait le déplacement de Paris jusqu’à Bordeaux pour rencontrer la partie (les Rothschild) à qui il a donné raison et ce afin de l’aider à se défendre…
Toujours étant impartial, il renouvelle sans problème la marque Mouton Noir (des Rothschild) en 2000 et 2010 alors qu’il transmet parallèlement à la Cour la preuve que cette marque est annulée depuis… 1996. (confirmé en 2007 par la Cour de Cassation).
La Cour qui a confirmé en 1998 l’annulation de cette marque arrive pourtant aujourd’hui a reconnaître que cette marque est notoire et elle rejette l’argument selon lequel cette prétendue notoriété est illégale donc inopposable… Conclusion ????
Etonnant non ?
Si ça peut vous aider, vous pouvez toujours me contacter
Écrit par : MOUTON NOIR | 06/12/2010
Rough translation into English (with emphasis):
I wanted to add some grist to your mill.
Do you know that Mr. Benoît Battistelli is an elected member of the UMP political party in St Germain en Laye?
And he is very much appreciated by Christine Lagarde?
Do you also know that being impartial, when there was an appeal against his decision, he traveled from Paris to Bordeaux to meet the party (Rothschild) to whom he granted this decision in order to help them to defend their case …
Always being impartial, he renewed the trademark “Mouton Noir” (Rothschild) in 2000 and 2010 without any problem while at the same time passing to the Court evidence that that trademark had been revoked since … 1996 (confirmed by the Court of Cassation in 2007).
The Court which confirmed the revocation of that trademark in 1998 now however decides to recognise that this mark is notorious and it rejects the argument that the claimed notoriety is unlawful and therefore unenforceable. … Conclusion … ????
It’s amazing isn’t it?
If it helps you, you can contact me any time.
Written by: MOUTON NOIR | 06/12/2010
It would appear from this that, in his capacity as Director-General of the INPI, Battistelli may have improperly intervened to assist the Rothschild Group in defending its claims to certain disputed trademarks.
“They submitted a demand for €410,000 in damages plus interest and also requested him to desist from using the family name “Mouton” on his wines.”We researched a bit further and it is reasonable to think that this allegation may indeed relate to the famous “Mouton vs. Mouton” case which got a lot of press coverage in France and was also covered in the UK. (Note: List of press articles in English and French have been prepended above)
The Domain[e] Mouton is a family-run vineyard located in Burgundy and is currently managed by Laurent Mouton who took over from his father Gérard in 2002. In 2013, Laurent Mouton found himself confronted with legal action from the Philipe de Rothschild Group and Rothschild SA. They submitted a demand for €410,000 in damages plus interest and also requested him to desist from using the family name “Mouton” on his wines. According to press reports from 2014, Laurent was defiant and intended to fight his corner.
“Along our efforts to corroborate we did find additional comments about the alleged connection.”We don’t have any more information at the moment, but our investigations are continuing. We ask readers for help in the form of any leads or other information of interest. None of the press reports below mention the alleged Battistelli intervention on behalf of the Rothschild Group, but we are trying to find out if there is any substance to these allegations. We have attempted to find out if Benoît Battistelli ever publicly commented on this, but came out empty-handed. We could not show direct connections between the Philipe de Rothschild Group and Battistelli, either, but maybe other people out there can produce some evidence we’re not aware of.
Along our efforts to corroborate we did find additional comments about the alleged connection. To quote one of them:
“The Dutch judgment was against the European Patent ORGANISATION, not against the Office. As such, Battistelli has no authority to decide what to do about the judgment – the Administrative Council must do that.
Has he once more overstepped the mark, as he did with the DG 3 house ban?”
And once again someone – this time a Dutch Minister – has moved quickly to cover for him.
The man has friends in high places.
To find out more, if you can read French, Google “INPI et les Faux et usage de Faux”.
Scroll down the page and study the comments by “MOUTON NOIR” to see how well-connected BB is.
Thursday, 26 February 2015 at 10:17:00 GMT
It would be useful to get more than Internet gossip about it. This sounds a lot like the case of Rikard Frgačić and Željko Topić [1, 2, 3, 4], with Lufthansa trademarks being reassigned under highly controversial circumstances (it was still not a closed case the last time we checked and spoke to Frgačić over the phone).
The Benoit Battistelli “Mouton” story, like the Frgačić-Topić-Lufthansa story, misses hard evidence of intervention between the head of the local IP office and the very affluent stakeholder. We look forward to hearing from readers or errant observers. █
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Battistelli may risk losing his job if he sacks Ms. Hardon, Ms. Weaver and/or Mr. Brumme
Summary: New rumours about Benoît Battistelli’s union-busting efforts, new complaints to the EPO about traffic floods (possibly caused by its censorship Bluecoat appliance), and fresh complaints sent to the Administrative Council
“Now BB [Benoît Battistelli] has allegedly been advised by the AC,” said a comment this morning, “not to fire the suspended staff reps. He does not usually take this sort of advice. However, I wonder whether, in case that BB fires them despite this advice, the AC will prosecute then the charges of institutionalised abuse put before the AC by the staff rep in question.” (some typos corrected)
“I gave the network administrators enough time to respond and preferably take action.”This would certainly be quite a breakthrough given other rumours or speculations we have been hearing after the Administrative Council's sessions (some said that Hardon would be sacked imminently).
Incidentally, yesterday I reported to the EPO’s relevant people (
firstname.lastname@example.org) abuse by its IP addresses (i.e. computers) against my site. I gave the network administrators enough time to respond and preferably take action. Here is what I wrote in the early hours:
Subject: Network abuse
Dear Network Administrators at the EPO,
Please be aware that IP addresses belonging to the EPO have been abusing my site, techrights.org, for a continued length of time, despite techrights.org reportedly being blocked from your network. This week, for instance, 188.8.131.52, has been quite busy hammering on the site and last night I had to ban it for nearly 200 attempts against Varnish in a very short period of time (just over a minute).
I don’t know if you are using a bot to access the site and I don’t know if there is an exclusion to the ban inside the Investigative Unit, which has engaged in some truly atrocious (and possible illegal) union-busting actions as of late.
I ask you politely to stop the offending addresses from effectively staging digital attacks or floods or my site. If I do not hear from any of you by 5 PM CET today, I shall escalate to the suitable European authorities and may pursue even further action.
These floods have been going on for literally months and they are becoming an embarrassment to your institution. I am eager to contact journalists regarding this matter unless this matter comes to a close by the end of the working day.
Deadline was reached within more than half a (working) day, but no action was taken, so I ended up escalating. How does one respond to an organisation which is effectively above the law though? Well, perhaps the only way is to speak to those capable of taking action against the EPO. That’s Administrative Council delegates.
I sent the following message to some prominent delegates the same evening:
Subject: Abuses by EPO Against Bloggers
Dear European representative,
I am writing to you with the kindest of intentions, for serious problems arose at the European Patent Office and these affect me personally. For a number of years, as a software professional in the UK, I have been writing critically about the EPO, whereupon EPO simply banned my site (inaccessible to EPO workers), later threatened to sue me (widely reported on in the mass media because they were not even legally capable of suing), and right now IP addresses belonging to the EPO digitally vandalise my site by overwhelming it with automated requests (this has gone on for quite a while). They have, in essence, launched an assault on access to information itself. They actively threaten staff that speaks to the media about abuses and 3 months ago the EPO secretly signed an (almost) $1,000,000 1-year contract with the infamous Washington-based FTI Consulting for reputation laundering in the media. They actively try to prevent the public from finding out about a queue-hopping programme (for selected large corporations that submit patent applications), among many more scandals which serve to deny the illusion of EPO “success” and “growth”.
European delegates are the last resort now, as the EPO enjoys a controversial immunity that emboldens for abuse and disregard for European laws.
After repeated DDOS (distributed denial of service) attacks on my site I implemented some defenses and found that IP addresses belonging to the EPO are among the culprits. I reported this to the EPO, but they are not taking action to stop this. I asked them politely earlier today (message sent to their network administrators and is guaranteed to have been received), but no action has been taken, so I have to conclude this may all be intentional or that low-level staff is simply too afraid to intervene, having seen the extreme actions taken by management when any morsel of dissent/discontent was shown. The EPO has already threatened delegates, politicians, staff representatives, lawyers of staff representatives, and even journalists or bloggers.
I kindly ask you to put restraints on these practices and respond to unlawful behaviour by the EPO, not just directed at EPO staff but also at outsiders. The EPO rapidly became an embarrassment to Europe as a whole and it is consequently jeopardising unity inside the European Union, which I wholeheartedly support.
My sincere regards,
Dr. Roy Schestowitz
We don’t know if the message sent to selected delegates caused some kind of new contact between them and the EPO.
“We don’t know if the message sent to selected delegates caused some kind of new contact between them and the EPO.”To better understand what was likely hammering on our server we asked someone who may be familiar with the insides of the EPO network, whereupon we learned that “all internal EPO users, examiners etc., when they access the Internet, are routed through a PROXY! [...] In the techrights case it can be the case that so many examiners are currently trying to access your page, and that the Bluecoat appliance [believed to be in use] not only blocks the users from accessing techrights but also pings techrights, which causes a lot of traffic to your pages, but does not bring contents to the internal users. So it may be that it is not a DDOS but a side effect of (blocked for the internal users, by Bluecoat) accesses in the internal EPO network to your pages (but each try-access is sending a request to your server).”
Either way, the EPO should get its Bluecoat appliance under control. According to an RSF report (which we cited back in March), “American Company Blue Coat, specialized in online security, is best known for its Internet censorship equipment. This equipment also allows for the supervision of journalists, netizens and their sources. Its censorship devices use Deep Packet Inspection, a technology employed by many western Internet Service Providers to manage network traffic and suppress unwanted connections.”
What does that say about the real ‘enemies’ of EPO management? █
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Is the EPO weaponising the media?
Summary: Rumour that the EPO spends almost as much as a million US dollars “with some selected press agencies to refurbish the image of the EPO”
LIKE a lot of large organisations out there, the EPO wishes to guard its image and even hires accordingly. Since the EPO is a public body that receives subsidies from taxpayers, it is imperative that the public gets told how this money gets spent.
Months ago we pointed out that the EPO was preparing a propaganda campaign trying to cast/frame staff as "happy" even though everyone we hear from is unhappy and the ‘loyal’ committee is clearly not happy either [1, 2]. For all we know, even EPO management is unhappy right now, but that’s mostly because of the negative press it receives. Recently we have seen some character assassination articles prepared in coordination with EPO management, shamelessly (and with little concrete evidence) framing its opponents as armed Nazis. Later on people like Battistelli send this tripe to various people in high places, as private letters serve to demonstrate. The EPO’s management views this as an information war (as if it has done nothing wrong) and it now distorts the media, turning journalists into PR marionettes and weaponising newspapers with high circulation in Germany, Holland, and sometimes even France (where French EPO managers probably dread negative publicity).
“Recently we have seen some character assassination articles prepared in coordination with EPO management, shamelessly (and with little concrete evidence) framing its opponents as armed Nazis.”Last night we received comments with mere claims (not yet verified) from a regular commenter whose track record has been reasonably good (accurate). The comment says: “Inquire about a contract of over 800.000€ with some selected press agencies to refurbish the image of the EPO after the alllegedly [sic] “damaging campaign by few employees and mad bloggers”. Someone has seen the signed contract passing from desk to desk at the EPO (readers please provide confirmation or evidence). A further misuse of public money.”
A later comment said: “I do not know who was the beneficiary of the contract, only that its purpose was to restore the “damaged” reputation of the EPO by way of favourable press articles and media contributions (Les Echoes is just an example). For a favourable coverage, the simple resignation of BB [Battistelli] would suffice. This would be very cheap for the EPO. I was also told that the EPO might buy an armoured limousine for the safety of President who has already a number of body guards. If true, it would be another useless expenditure of public money.”
“Staff of the EPO has long been concerned about the EPO’s manipulation of the media in its favour.”We welcome any confirmatory evidence people can provide. Staff of the EPO has long been concerned about the EPO’s manipulation of the media in its favour. And at whose expense? The European public whose brightest engineers, biologists, programmers etc. are abused by the EPO?
As a side note, regarding our previous post about why Battistelli equates his opposition to Unitary Patent (UP) opposition, a reader wrote to tell us that the article “was mentioning TR, NO and CH, which did not participate in the UP, and thus helped justified the continued existence of the EPO in its present form.
“To be exhaustive, one should add to that non-EU, non UP, list: IS, AL, FY, SM and RS [Iceland, Albania, FYROM, San Marino and Serbia].
“Extremely few applications are filed from theses countries, and European patents are also seldom validated there.
“And each of these states possess one full vote on the EPO AC, even though these states count for nothing in the European IP system.”
We hope that someone can provide us with some documents to show abuse and waste of public funds, possibly to the tune of €800,000 (to be funneled to the media or given to people who meddle with the media), a la French ‘news’ paper Les Échos [1, 2, 3], which has become Battistelli's mouthpiece, not just a so-called ‘media partner’ (euphemism). █
“A desire to resist oppression is implanted in the nature of man.”
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But did Jesper Kongstad actually do it? We need evidence if any exists.
Jesper Kongstad. Photo from the Nordic Patent Institute.
Summary: Comment found online accuses the Administrative Council of pressuring, by threats, Directorate-General 3 to dismiss a judge who is silently accused (with selective ‘leaks’ to the media, reportedly orchestrated by EPO managers) but not even proven guilty
LOOKING at recent comments in IP Kat, where anonymous people sometimes refer to the EPO‘s President Battistelli as “Battishenko” and “Bashar al-Istelli”, we find rather curious allegations in relation to this 'leaked' PDF which shows how Kongstad’s Administrative Counci (AC), masking itself as “EPO”, tried to crush a judge but got denied for having no legal basis. As it turns out, the EPO likes to throw around legally unsound documents, hoping to ‘trick’ people into doing things they needn’t do. If the EPO didn’t have the immunity is so proudly boasts about, it would probably get sued for legal abuse or legal bullying. Recall this case of trademark-trolling too.
“If the EPO didn’t have the immunity is so proudly boasts about, it would probably get sued for legal abuse or legal bullying.”Based on this rather curious comment, “Mr Kongstadt recently paid a visit to DG3 to threaten them in case they fail to obey the order to dismiss the DG3 member” (the judge).
“That is a serious allegation,” responded another person. “Any proof?”
“I would not surprised if this were to be true,” the commenter added. “We have seen more examples Mr. Kongstadt acts as Mr. Battistelli’s sidekick – rather than the AC president who is to ensure Mr. Battistelli is doing his work properly: secret one-on-one deals on remuneration, contacting the EBoA on his own rather than on behalf of the AC.”
If there is truth to this rumour, then we urge people to privately contact us and confirm/deny. There would be serious implications if this turned out to be true.
“If there is truth to this rumour, then we urge people to privately contact us and confirm/deny.”Another comment says: “What the above-mentioned communication from a Board of Appeal actually means is that Part VI of the Convention / Appeals Procedure no longer applies to certain technical fields, with more to follow soon.”
If the judge is dismissed by his/her colleagues, under pressure from the AC/EPO, then what makes these colleagues think they won’t be next in the firing line? We know the identity of the judge and it seems unlikely under these circumstances that these allegations are an objective truth; they’re quite likely ‘sexed up’ (like evidence of Iraq’s WoMD prior to invasion) and maybe dependent on very careful and selective dirt-digging by the ill-intending I.U. (Investigative Unit) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7]. It’s not easy to dismiss someone for talking to colleagues, just as it’s not easy to besiege (or extradite) Julian Assange for merely publishing incriminating documents, handed over anonymously by genuinely concerned whistleblowers.
“What the above-mentioned communication from a Board of Appeal actually means is that Part VI of the Convention / Appeals Procedure no longer applies to certain technical fields, with more to follow soon.”
–Anonymous“I see two outcomes to this saga,” another commenter writes:
1) At the next AC meeting the suspended DG3 member will have his salary cut again (reduced to 50% after the last AC meeting) with some kind of deal/threat circulated in the background to make sure he takes retirement. Problem solved.
2) The suspended DG3 member will not be renominated (like so many others) when his renomination is due. Problem solved.
“Or not,” said a different commenter. “2 more years of house ban is an harassment!
“It is now official that B. [Battistelli] lied to the AC and defamed the guy and made an unlawful disciplinary measure. The next AC will be surprising!”
“Actually, it is well know within the Office that Mr. Lutz is able to write his signature upside down, so that he can sign whatever the President pushes across the table to him without having to turn it round to read it.”
–Anonymous jokeThere are many more comments there which are worth seeing. We particularly liked this amusing comment about Vice-President Lutz being like a lapdog of Battistelli. It says: “Actually, it is well know within the Office that Mr. Lutz is able to write his signature upside down, so that he can sign whatever the President pushes across the table to him without having to turn it round to read it.”
Well, the same seemingly applies to Kongstad these days, judging by the leaked PDF.
What will it take to stop Team Battistelli? We believe that information alone can put an end to it. The management of the EPO has far too much to hide, far too much to fear, and it is certainly doing a lot of things wrong. Team Battistelli, along with the I.U., wants to have a monopoly on privacy. These people want to run the EPO like the Stasi ran East Germany just so that, using the über ‘skills’ of bulk collection and mass surveillance*, they can dig ‘dirt’ and dismiss anyone who ‘dares’ to question Team Battistelli. We need to reverse this disturbing trend and overcome the Stasi by inverting the so-called ‘transparency’. Accountability necessitates access to information — something that any public body should enable by default. All that Battistelli has done about transparency is write a blog post about it. █
“Privacy protects us from abuses by those in power, even if we’re doing nothing wrong at the time of surveillance.”
* In the UK it has just been made official and perfectly legal for spies and sometimes for police to access people’s complete Web browsing history, so each page ever accessed (even accidentally!) can be framed as ‘evidence’.
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Summary: Some more background information about Elodie Bergot and Gilles Requena, who are married whilst also sharing positions of power at the EPO (and also strong connections/ties with the EPO’s President, Mr. Battistelli); Rumours afloat at the EPO — some with ever-increasing circulation too — are worth noting
THE EPO is not an ordinary institution. It professes professionalism and public service, but it’s hard to take all that at face value. In part one, part two and part three of this series we have shown how Elodie Bergot, who is married to Battistelli’s assistant, got magically promoted. When the staff expressed shock the response from Team Battistelli was that some process which wasn’t even transparent was certain to assure the integrity of this promotion. Readers can make their own judgment and draw conclusions (if any) based on what we showed, but today we provide some more background about Gilles Requena.
“Mr. Requena previously worked under Battistelli when the latter was the Director General of the French National Institute for Intellectual Property (INPI). Mr. Requena joined the EPO in October 2010, a few months after Battistelli had taken up his duties as President of the EPO on the 1st of July, 2010.”The husband of Ms. Bergot is Mr. Gilles Requena, who is a close assistant of Battistelli. Mr. Requena previously worked under Battistelli when the latter was the Director General of the French National Institute for Intellectual Property (INPI). Mr. Requena joined the EPO in October 2010, a few months after Battistelli had taken up his duties as President of the EPO on the 1st of July, 2010.
Requena frequently accompanies Battistelli on his globe-trotting expeditions to the Intellectual Property Offices of the member states of the EPO and elsewhere:
Here he can be seen as a member of the Presidential entourage during a “state visit” to Liechtenstein. That’s where the image on the right is cropped from.
The photo on this Web page was taken during a visit to the IPO of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. An English version of the accompanying text is available at the same site. This is the source of the image on the left. It’s publicly accessible, hence not a violation of privacy.
When you work for a private company of which you are founder, CEO or whatever, hiring a friend or family may generally be dubious (frowned upon by staff) but not inherently offensive; when you do this in the public sector, however, you have a responsibility to the public (you already enjoy a monopoly), so hiring should be done solely in the interests of the public. That’s why people in such positions are typically referred to as “public servants” — an ordinary and mundane term that Battistelli largely disgraced, especially when the context is the European Patent Office/Organisation.
Now we enter rumourville and we ask readers to treat these as mere rumours. “In 2007,” we’ve learned. “Ms. Brimelow disclosed her working conditions when she joined the Office as President (including an approximate calculation of her salary in July 2007). In 2015 Mr. Battistelli disclosed the staff’s working conditions [but] Mr. Battistelli’s own contract still remains a well-guarded secret, known only to Mr. [Jesper] Kongstad and Mr. Archambeau (previously PD HR and now-Vice President at OHIM in Alicante). Evil tongues say that Ms. Bergot recently gave the President a 13% increase.”
The source “can neither confirm nor deny these rumours.” Since there is so much secrecy around it all, it’s not possible either. One can only guess based on hearsay. Battistelli likes to publicly brag about “transparency”, but his contract is perhaps an exclusion, among so many more exclusions. We have already learned that Battistelli was “asked — in vain — for his detailed earnings, including his salary, in an open letter” from SUEPO.
Mr. Requena and Ms. Bergot are not the only people from Battistelli’s ‘extended family’, so to speak. As one recent writing from SUEPO suggests:
Shortly after taking up office, Mr Battistelli put several of his previous co-workers at the French patent office (INPI) on key posts in the Office. A few months ago we flagged that the “inner circle” seemed to be growing, in particular around Elodie Bergot (PD4.3).
Our predictions are materializing. One of Ms Bergot’s personal assistants is Nadja Lefèvre. Ms Lefèvre joined the Office on 15.03.2014 as “Administrator A3” She was soon appointed head of “Administrative Services for Social Dialogue”, i.e. of the 100% staff representatives and secretaries. Next she was appointed head of “Conflict Resolution” a.i. Finally, in June of this year, “Internal Communication” was added to this already impressive work package. Since then a vacancy notice was published for a “Director HR Strategic Support and Change Management”. Only internal candidates may apply. The new Director “will manage a directorate… currently organised in 3 units: Internal Communication, Conflict Resolution Unit and Social Dialogue Administration”. We would be extremely surprised if the successful candidate were anyone other than Ms Lefèvre.
Nadja Lefèvre was mentioned here before, in relation to media spin and controversial interrogations [1, 2].
Minnoyal Double Standards
“Mr. Minnoye,” we’ve learned (the current VP1), “appears not to be amused that (DG1) documents are regularly leaking to the outside world.”
“The EPO likes selective transparency, which means making publicly available only the things that make the EPO look good while deliberately hiding the rest.”Well, when documents serve to prove irregularities it’s called whistleblowing and whistleblowers generally enjoy certain protections. It guards justice and ensures accountability within a self-serving system. The way to ensure that documents don’t regularly leak is to behave properly, in which case the leakers don’t qualify as whistleblowers. Sadly for Mr. Minnoye, there is a lot more to come. Trying to obstruct reporting isn’t a wise idea because the backlash it causes can be an order of magnitude greater than the perceived (and short-term) ‘gain’.
According to the EPO's own documents, accelerated examination for large ‘clients’ was the idea of Battistelli and VP1 (Minnoye). To quote EPO documents: “Both The President and VP1 have expressed the opinion that there needs to be closer contact between examiners and their applicants.”
It has also been alleged that Minnoye was involved in the next wave of propaganda, but we cannot confirm this for sure (no transparency at the EPO).
According to this new comment, “VP1″ (Minnoye) is hypocritical for bemoaning leaks. To quote the commenter: “That wouldn’t by any chance be the same VP1 who was allegedly involved in leaking the “facts” about a confidential internal investigation report to the Dutch press?”
Well, according to a letter from SUEPO: “A week before the Council meeting, Mr Minnoye (VP1), Ms Mittermaier (our new Dir. External Communication) and Mr Osterwalder (EPO press spokesman) apparently met with a journalist of the Financiele Dagblad.”
“To some people, truth itself is a considerable threat.”It’s becoming easy to see why Mr. Minnoye isn’t a big fan of this whole “transparency” thing which the President keeps boasting about. The EPO likes selective transparency, which means making publicly available only the things that make the EPO look good while deliberately hiding the rest.
Attempts to crack Techrights tripled this past week (an all-time high), with nearly a million attempts in just one week. It’s hard to tell who or what is behind it, but it sure limits access to the server as it’s a brute force attack. We do our best to counter this (thankfully, we have the technical skills and experience), but sometimes that is not enough. We remind readers to help protect the right to inform the public, as such rights should never be taken for granted. To some people, truth itself is a considerable threat. █
“We often forget to appreciate something until we lose it. It’s a fact of life. We tend to take a lot of things for granted. We take a lot of people for granted.”
–J. Angelo Racoma
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