Maintaining the occupation of the Office in the face of the Administrative Council, which has not been infiltrated to the same degree (some say that it happens there too)
Summary: The EPO’s ‘ringleader’, Mr. Battistelli, is allegedly trying to keep his confidants (part of the family cabal, like Mr. Minnoye and Željko Topić) together for several more years to come, even defying rules regarding retirement age
THE “EPO rumour mill,” told us a source, is abuzz with information or speculations about what’s about to happen in June when the Administrative Council meets again and has an opportunity to sack Battistelli. Battistelli should be retired by now, not receiving an astronomical salary (the same is true for Mr Minnoye, who had a senior moment on TV when he forgot that law needs to be obeyed).
“The normal EPO Vice-President contract is for 5 years so his appointment will expire in March/April 2017.”
–AnonymousNow that Battistelli is rumoured to be 'buying' votes so as to ensure he does not get sacked (in spite of failing to fulfill any of the requests from the Administrative Council) we have some new informal information, or rather, unverified rumours.
“Latest news from the EPO rumour mill,” our source told us, involves both Battistelli and his right-hand man Željko Topić, who faces serious issues in his home country.
“Topić,” we are told, “was appointed as VP 4 of the EPO in March 2012 and took up his duties in Munich in April 2012. The normal EPO Vice-President contract is for 5 years so his appointment will expire in March/April 2017.
“Battistelli is due to remain as EPO President until June 2018 and it now seems that he wants to keep Topić for another year.
“There are 38 member states in total, and a three-quarters majority would be needed to remove the President.”
–Anonymous“The latest news from the EPO rumour mill is that Battistelli is planning to propose an extension of Topić’s appointment to the Administrative Council during the upcoming meeting on the 29th and 30th of June. According to reliable sources there is a lot of opposition to the proposed extension among many delegations so it will interesting to see if this will lead to another stand-off between Battistelli and the Council.”
Would it not be outrageous if Topić, who faces many criminal charges, received an endorsement from heads of national offices (Administrative Council)? That would serve to discredit, by extension/association, a lot of this whole system (the Organisation), demonstrating that the EPO is unhinged and incapable of self-regulation.
“Battistelli has now lost majority support in the Administrative Council,” our source added, “but according to inside sources there is still a block of around 12 countries which continue support him. There are 38 member states in total, and a three-quarters majority would be needed to remove the President. As long as he still has residual support from 12 countries it could be difficult for the Council to dismiss him.”
Since all countries, both large and small, have an equal voice, sending money their way to secure their support for Battistelli should not be too hard. We explained this last week.
“As long as he still has residual support from 12 countries it could be difficult for the Council to dismiss him.”
–Anonymous“However,” our source concluded, “it’s not easy to make reliable predictions about this because according to EPO voting rules abstentions do not count as votes. So if some delegations decided to abstain, this would reduce the majority required for a decision. The “three-quarters majority” is based on the actual number of votes cast not including abstentions.”
For those wishing to contact their national delegates, here are the contact details. They deserve to have access to information that Battistelli and his goons suppress, either by threats to bloggers and to representatives, outright censorship (of bloggers and representatives’ sites/E-mail), self censorship by mass surveillance (with BlueCoat) and so on. █
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The best vote/ballot money can buy or just an incredible coincidence?
Summary: Several sources suggest that rather than appease the Administrative Council by taking corrective action Battistelli and his notorious ‘circle’ now work hard to remove opposition from the Administrative Council, especially where this is easier a task to accomplish (politically or economically)
THE EPO is an institution like no other institution. Even FIFA/UEFA pale in comparison to the abuses at the EPO, but since more people understand football (than complex subjects like patents) media attention has been grossly disproportionate. The media in Europe has been mostly uncooperative, apathetic and unwilling to give thought/iota/space to EPO staff’s complaints. We already wrote many hypotheses or theories about why this may be, ranging from national interests of Germany, the “better good” of the European Union, the corporate ties of large media operations, and so forth.
“Even FIFA/UEFA pale in comparison to the abuses at the EPO, but since more people understand football (than complex subjects like patents) media attention has been grossly disproportionate.”Whatever one knows about the EPO, in reality it’s probably a lot worse. I have written more than 700 articles about the EPO specifically (not just as a side issue) and the lack of intervention/involvement from authorities is truly jaw-dropping. I have never come across anything like this (having run this site for a decade).
Continuing a string of anonymous comments (as anonymous as they can be over at Google’s Blogspot), one person wrote about sanctions against EPO staff that already left the Office:
Still, imposing restrictions upon someone who is no longer an employee of the EPO is a significant step further than everything that has gone before – even the retroactive extension of the period by which an employee may be suspended before a final decision is taken on their case (or, if we are speaking bluntly, extension of the period by which an employee might be “detained without trial”!).
As I understand it, the deal that every EPO employee signed up to was that the EPO would have no claim to infringe or limit the liberty of the employee after they left the employ of the EPO. It would therefore simply be impossible for any court of an EU Member State to validate a “condition of employment” that was unilaterally imposed (i.e. without consent of the employee, or even any form of additional compensation) and that purported to limit the liberty of an individual beyond the term of the contract of employment.
I know that we are operating in Eponia here, and not the EU. Nevertheless, the fact that the above is such a blatantly unarguable point means that, even if the AC erred in rubber-stamping previous proposals, they would really have no excuse for making the same mistake on this occasion.
As another person put it, citing/highlighting the amazing behaviour of Mr. Minnoye (on public television, nothing less!):
Very true. They would have no excuse.
But if they made the mistake, who would call them to account?
Remember, they enjoy “immunity” for their actions.
Some court or tribunal might at some far distant date find the measure to be unlawful.
But even that is my no mean certain.
Do you think they will loose any sleep over such trivia?
Remember Wille Minnoye’s famous words on Netherlands television.
We have been hearing for a while, from 4 sources by now (including this from today), that Team Battistelli — seeking to protect itself from justice (people like Minnoye included) — sought to stack panels and warp the vote in the same way that DNC does it in the United States (e.g. in Nevada more recently).
Here is, once again, a claim that Battistelli “is literally buying the votes of the small countries.” We wrote about this two days ago and here it is again:
The idea that some restrictions were applicable to employees after they left the EPO has always been in the service regulations. It makes sense: the EPO is dealing with confidential matter (unpublished applications), the employees are bound to confidentiality even after they left.
All these have always existed and have always been a potential problem: confidentiality, lack of independent justice, internal sickness insurance, lack of control on spending, etc… But it has never been an acute problem because it was never systematically abused (although some limited abuse was already there). The EPO has functioned quite well for the last 30+ years.
The problem today is that someone is systematically (ab)using the regulations and even strengthening them. That is why the EPO is suddenly in the Press.
Quite frankly, I don’t see any way out. Battistelli will manage to get the council at his side, because he is literally buying the votes of the small countries. Countries with the most economic weight: Germany, France, UK, Italy, Netherlands, Swiss, etc… want him out but will be outvoted by a coalition formed by, maybe, Greece, Cyprus, Macedonia, Romania…
Whether the rumour mill is wrong or not, one sure thing is that we are hearing this from more and more separate sources, so there’s probably some level of truth to it. Recall Battistelli signing a deal with Lithuania just around the same time as the Administrative Council's meeting. Very suspicious timing, no?
“Will the delegations let the president weakening the council secretariat? Will they act upon what may be interpreted by the outside observers as basically a “power-play”?”
–AnonymousOne source recently noted: “Last B28 [Board 28 meeting] seems to have only tackle with [sic] DG3 matters and nothing has transpired about the social situation. Only rumours concern some changes proposed by the President – this is one of his ample prerogative- in the Council secretariat. Shortly after having stated in the March resolution that a reinforcement of the Secretariat capacity and independence was a top priority, it will be an interesting to observe the next session of the AC: Will the delegations let the president weakening the council secretariat? Will they act upon what may be interpreted by the outside observers as basically a “power-play”?
Well, that would not be the first from Battistelli. Also regarding the B28 we have learned that “since January the situation of Ion and Malika [staff representation] has remained unchanged! It seems that we were left with the wrong impression that the president was in dire need of their personal Request for Review to show its benevolence. Presumably this was just a “teaser”: Today, one month after filling the “long awaited” Request for Review, NO decision has been taken yet. Presumably, one can expect a more “PR-effective” date of “release” around the next B28 or Budget and Finance Committee (24-25.05)” (that’s this coming week).
It’s easy to see the cause for angst. The angst is totally just and Battistelli’s regime is — to use a understatement — unjust. Writing in IP Kat anonymously, some people have gone poetic. One writes:
Eponia boss Battistelli
Tried moving the Boards to New Delhi
But later that evening
He went through the ceiling
When they criticised him on the telly.
Another poetic one reads:
A judge once wrote a decision
The president saw with derision.
He was removed from his post,
And given at most
A pension that no one could live on.
The poetry continued with this comment that said: “The EPO enlarges itself, becomes methodised and refined and the whole, though it takes long, stands almost complete and finished in my mind, so that I can survey it, like a fine picture or a beautiful statute that I can present to the AC at a glance” (there are some bogus ‘studies’ in the pipelines, as we noted before).
On a more serious note, one person notes:
I know some colleagues who have installed on their smartphone a backwards counter to monitor the leaving date of BB.
About two years from now.
In the mean time the work goes on. We try to survive in the mess created by this ill advised management. With shame and disgust.
Because the heart of the EPO is (still) good. Made of multi cultural, competent and very patient people. For these people, my friends, we have to maintain hope and try to save what can be saved of the working life and atmosphere at the EPO.
Unfortunately this top management is only interested in short term benefits and neither in the staff wellbeing nor the european people interest. This is sad, unwise and without any issue. But these people will not last forever. Time to rebuild will come, time for justice and intelligence.
La bêtise, l’énorme bêtise à front de taureau, will go back home forever and for a well deserved and extremely quiet, rest.
“AC creativity may cause spark,” one person noted today. “It can be excruciating when they’re rubbing two rocks together and getting again nothing. Maybe one day sitting at my desk, seeing nothing, hearing nothing, yet through the silence something throbs and gleams…a flame catches and a new era of hope sweeps through the IP world.”
“Most examiners, who are academically trained, wish to the right thing.”In our next post we shall try a more optimistic tone. We invite EPO staff to help our push for tighter EPO patent scope (no software patents), which probably also means blocking the UPC. A lot of the current so-called ‘reforms’ are due to the UPC, which tilts the whole system in favour of the rich and the powerful, and it’s obvious at whose expense and at what cost. The EPO became a battleground (or battle scene) and it’s not the fault of examiners, whose moves are largely reactionary. Most examiners, who are academically trained, wish to the right thing. █
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Article as ODF
Publicado en GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Novell, Rumour, Ubuntu at 6:48 am por el Dr. Roy Schestowitz
“Microsoft está coercionando a la gente a pagarle por patentes, pero no menciónan cuales. Si un tipo entra a una tienda y dice: “No es un barrio seguro, porque no me pagas 20 dólares y me aseguraré de que nada te pase,” eso es ilegal. Es chantaje.”
Summary: Teniendo en cuenta los últimos movimientos de Canonical, algunos expertos piensan que es posible que Shuttleworth elija el dinero a Microsoft sobre principios sino también inste para que esto ocurra
DESPUÉS de evitar a los medios de comunicación durante semanas o incluso meses (Googlebombing “Linux” en las noticias) y chantajeando compañías de Linux utilizando patentes de software (por paquetes, no sólo los pagos), mientras que cabildea por unas patentes de software más fuertes que crecen cada vez más preocupados en la fase del “abrazo” (como en EEE) continúa hacia la siguiente “extender”. Microsoft ya está pagando a Canonical (esperen que Shuttleworth no se atreve a decir nada negativo de Microsoft) y devore Ubuntu, al igual que lo hizo con Novell con Hyper-V (encerrándo a GNU/Linux en una cárcel de propiedad de Microsoft).
“Microsoft ya está pagando a Canonical (esperen que Shuttleworth no se atreve a decir nada negativo de Microsoft) y devore Ubuntu, al igual que lo hizo con Novell con Hyper-V (encerrándo a GNU/Linux en una cárcel de propiedad de Microsoft).”
A partir de esta semana, sacando a luz la gran mentira (“Microsoft ama Linux”), Janakiram MSV desde el 1% ‘media/boquilla (waripolera de Bill Gates) dice que “la estrategia de código abierto de Microsoft esta incompleta sin esta adquisición” (alude a Canónical).
“Para hacer el caso más fuerte, aquí están algunas de las razones por las que Microsoft debería considerar la adquisición de Canonical”, escribió. Como Susan Linton puso esta mañana: “Cuando la Microsoft y Canonical nueva relación amistosa todavía está en la mente de muchos, Janakiram MSV aseguró que” hoy la estrategia de código abierto de Microsoft es incompleta “sin ellos. Dijo Microsoft está tratando de cambiar su imagen lejos de ser sólo para Windows, sólo tiene sentido comprar Canonical. Ubuntu tiene millones de usuarios y “. Un ejército de desarrolladores y administradores de sistemas” Aparte de la gente, Canonical viene con LXD, Snappy Ubuntu Core y Juju – todas las cosas que podrían hacer más competitivo Microsoft en el Cloud y IT. Para Janakiram, no hay inconvenientes para Microsoft.”
“No es impensable que Microsoft por lo menos atente comprar a Canonical.”
Hace dos años hemos escuchado posts como “¿Por qué Microsoft debería comprar Canónical?” y el año pasado hubo rumores en ese sentido.
No es impensable que Microsoft podría al menos tratar de comprar Canonical. Ya intentó la contratar (caza furtiva) administrador de la comunidad de Canonical de Ubuntu (este, con coraje que saludamos se negó). Pero ¿el señor Shuttleworth vendería más de lo que ya lo ha hecho? Shuttleworth dejó algunos comentarios aquí en los días después de haber comprado licencias de códecs (por las patentes de software) de Microsoft. Eso fue hace 8 años.
“Eso es extorsión y deberíamos llamarlo como lo es. Decir, como Ballmer dijo, que hay un no publico balance de liabilidad, eso simplemente es extorsión y deberíamos rechazar dejar arrastrárnos a ese juego.”
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“Microsoft is asking people to pay them for patents, but they won’t say which ones. If a guy walks into a shop and says: “It’s an unsafe neighbourhood, why don’t you pay me 20 bucks and I’ll make sure you’re okay,” that’s illegal. It’s racketeering.”
Summary: Taking some of Canonical’s recent moves into account, some pundits not only think it’s possible for Shuttleworth to choose Microsoft money over principles but also urge for this to happen
AFTER gaming the media for weeks if not months (googlebombing “Linux” in the news) and blackmailing Linux companies using software patents (for bundling, not just payments) while lobbying for a stronger software patents impact we grow increasingly concerned that the “embrace” phase (as in E.E.E.) is moving forward to “extend”. Microsoft is already paying Canonical (expect Shuttleworth to dare not say anything negative about Microsoft) and devouring Ubuntu, just like Novell with Hyper-V (enclosing GNU/Linux in a proprietary jail of Microsoft).
“Microsoft is already paying Canonical (expect Shuttleworth to dare not say anything negative about Microsoft) and devouring Ubuntu, just like Novell with Hyper-V (enclosing GNU/Linux in a proprietary jail of Microsoft).”Starting this week, sporting the big lie (“Microsoft loves Linux”), Janakiram MSV from the 1%’s media/mouthpiece (Bill Gates’ cheerleader) says that “Microsoft’s Open Source Strategy Is Incomplete Without This Acquisition” (he alludes to Canonical).
“To make the case stronger, here are a few reasons why Microsoft should consider acquiring Canonical,” he wrote. As Susan Linton put it this morning: “With Microsoft and Canonical’s new chummy relationship still on the minds of many, Janakiram MSV today said “Microsoft’s Open Source strategy is incompletely” without them. He said with Microsoft trying to change their image away from being Windows-only, it only makes sense to buy Canonical. Ubuntu has millions of users and “an army of developers and system administrators.” Besides people, Canonical comes with LXD, Snappy Ubuntu Core, and Juju – all things that could make Microsoft more competitive in the cloud and IoT. To Janakiram, there are no downsides for Microsoft.”
“It’s not unthinkable that Microsoft would at least attempt to buy Canonical.”Two years ago we heard of posts like “Why Microsoft should buy Canonical” and last year there were rumours to that effect.
It’s not unthinkable that Microsoft would at least attempt to buy Canonical. It already tried hiring (poaching) Canonical’s community manager for Ubuntu (he declined). But would Mr. Shuttleworth sell out more than he already does? Mr. Shuttleworth left some comments here back in the days after he had bought codec licences (for software patents) from Microsoft. That was 8 years ago. █
“That’s extortion and we should call it what it is. To say, as Ballmer did, that there is undisclosed balance sheet liability, that’s just extortion and we should refuse to get drawn into that game.”
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People on a mission to destroy/crush and accumulate more power in the process
“I am extraordinarily patient, provided I get my own way in the end.”
Summary: Dnevno.hr, a popular news site which wrote many articles about Željko Topić (a locally-disgraced official), has encountered resistance and people from Croatia tell us more about it
THE problems at the EPO exacerbated after the HR department had foolishly hired Željko Topić. Maybe it didn’t do a proper background check, maybe he wasn’t honest enough about his background, or maybe the background was known all along but viewed as compatible with Battistelli’s iron-fisted monarchy-esque regime. Either way, Mr. Topić remains inside the EPO (for now) and it does nothing but discredit the Office (and by extension the entire Organisation).
“It’s hard to tell just how widespread this campaign of silencing really was.”The interesting thing about Željko Topić and other such goons is that they too (like the EPO) tried to take the articles down from a Croatian portal. We were told this by people close to the action and we previously saw what seemed like evidence that more than this one portal was targeted. It’s hard to tell just how widespread this campaign of silencing really was. Topić repeatedly lost a defamation case about it. See for instance some of the following articles (not a complete list):
What we know for a fact is that Topić actively suppresses criticism (by going directly after his critics). We are not sure if he is also behind DDOS attacks, as some people allege based on suspicion but not much more.
“We are not sure if he is also behind DDOS attacks, as some people allege based on suspicion but not much more.”A month ago someone from Croatia sent us an E-mail titled “Cyberattacks to web site Dnevno.hr” — an attack (or several attacks) which we already knew about because people told us about that more than a year ago. To quote just a portion, the “news portal dnevno.hr” had a “short conversation with” this messenger, who spoke to the portal’s “owner, Mr. Michael Ljubas and editor Mr. Drazen Boros.”
“In several topics for discussion,” we got told, “in one moment we open old cyberattack to web site dnevno.hr in period Dec 2014 to Jan 2015.”
“I have had a lot of issues such as the above (DDOS) since I started writing about Topić in 2014.”Based on the message, “there is a doubt/suspicion on the company Moscow Telecom Corp (COMCOR)” and we were advised to get in touch. As a reminder to those who haven’t been following this saga long enough, Techrights too came under DDOS attacks around that time and SUEPO suffered DDOS attacks. It submitted a formal complaint to Dutch authorities shortly thereafter, but nothing has been heard about it since.
We don’t want to relay rumours as nothing other than rumours or lay the blame without hard evidence, but another source of ours with other sources in Croatia suspected, based on what s/he had heard, that it could, in theory, be related to Topić. I have had a lot of issues such as the above (DDOS) since I started writing about Topić in 2014. I am eager to find out more about the correlation, if any, hence I attempted to contact people from Dnevno.hr. That was a month ago. The DDOS attacks against Dnevno.hr are not the subject which we deem news; rather, it was the attempt to convince the site to take articles about Topić offline (effectively deleting them). This reinforces suspicions because there is definitely motivation. Here is the message I sent to Dnevno.hr (with minor redactions), in spite of the likelihood that they don’t speak English:
Dear Dražen Boroš and Michael Ljubas (whose e-mail I don’t have),
I am contacting you regarding Mr. Topić, now EPO V-P and formerly a source of many Croatian scandals (with ongoing court cases). I occasionally post translations of your reports but I also became aware of attacks on your site. I understand that you spoke to [redacted] and were going to contact me too. I am trying to ascertain the details regarding cybergagging, which I heard about from numerous sources for over a year. My site too came under attacks, and only after I started publishing stuff that relates to Mr. Topić (not sure if timing was a pure coincidence and whether it’s Mr. Topić who drew ire).
My plan is to publish a report on the matter and I need further input before doing so.
Sadly, I have not heard back, but shortly afterwards another article about Topić was published in Dnevno.hr, citing Techrights twice. It’s good to see that not only Croatian media makes it into west Europe but also articles from west Europe make it back into Croatia, generally making people better aware of injustices. We published a German translation of the latest article (still no English version). Most EPO workers understand at least German, so this translation may still be helpful. Very few can grasp Croatian (even remotely). Article about the EPO should come out in greater numbers and more should be said about Željko Topić (of SIPO and EPO). There is a lot of information already out there, but it’s usually not accessible to most Europeans, not even 1% of them (Croatia is not a large country/population). We need more articles in English, French, Spanish and German translated from Croatian. One thing that the EPO and Željko Topić’s SIPO have in common is staff suicides, but how many people even know this? There are also WIPO suicides with some commonality to be found in causes. It’s about staff which speaks truth to power or rattles the status quo a little, even if for perfectly justifiable reasons. “The staff representatives,” we recently read about EPO staff representatives, “noted [they] did not share their [EPO's] vision of priority: the “house is burning” and the head of the HR department finds no more urgent things to talk with staff representatives than about their personal rewards? The staff representatives stressed that it was a wrong priority altogether: while there is indeed a large issue of resources of the Staff Representation altogether, and the administration should focus on the fact that many officials are threatened, investigated fired or sick…”
Or having committed suicide (see the WIPO and SIPO suicides). █
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Antonio Campinos: potential EPO reformer or more of the same?
Summary: Information about the man who is rumoured to be parachuted in to replace Battistelli and continue some of his less desirable legacy
Later this week the Administrative Council of the EPO (Organisation) will be gathering to speak about the Office, so I took a whole week off work (just so that I can properly cover the outcome). We have been receiving various EPO rumours recently, some easier to substantiate than others. Today we wish to share a particular strand of rumours. It’s about Battistelli’s succession, or rather his replacement (succession implies graceful transition without effective change in policy/direction).
“It’s about Battistelli’s succession, or rather his replacement (succession implies graceful transition without effective change in policy/direction).”We have already published many articles about Christoph Ernst [1, 2, 3, 4] and in particular his stance on software patents (which is of special interest to us). Scroll down to the part about Christoph Ernst in this post about the last Administrative Council meeting to see what he said about Battistelli
The relevant part is this:
To paraphrase Mr. Ernst, the Head of the German delegation (to the best of my knowledge): “The president reports positive developments. I do not
share this view.[...] The president has spoken 40 minutes, of which only 2 minutes on the social situation.”
That was 3 months ago and things have changed a lot, particularly in light of the Board 28 intervention with its leaked letter and leaked conclusions.
“A competent “outsider” with a credible track-record would probably be more acceptable to EPO staff but at the moment no such candidates are visible.”
–AnonymousWe now believe — albeit with great caution — that we know about another candidate for Battistelli’s position (EPO presidency). “To try and sort out the current mess at the EPO,” one person told us, “you would probably need someone of mythical proportions like Hercules. As can be seen from the names which are currently being bandied about, any prospective candidates are likely to come from the “inner circle” of the Administrative Council. The problem here is that the Administrative Council is or at least appears to have been so heavily complicit in the activities of the current “regime” for so long now that all of its members are potentially “tainted”.
“In reality, the Administrative Council is a diverse body and there are undoubtedly some people there who have been critical of Battistelli’s misdeeds and excesses. So it’s probably a little unfair to tar all its members with the same brush. But the point is that EPO staff are likely to be understandably sceptical about any successor to Battistelli who comes from the ranks of the Administrative Council.”
It is worth noting here that even Battistelli himself came from the Administrative Council, where he’s alleged to have been one of the (perhaps) two “alpha-males” who pushed Brimelow out, paving the way to Battistelli’s ‘takeover’ with a secretive contract (Brimelow’s contract wasn’t secret). We wrote about this several times last year.
“During his time as President of the Directive Council of the Portugese National Institute of Industrial Property (INPI), Campinos also sat on the Administrative Council of the EPO.”
–Anonymous“A competent “outsider” with a credible track-record would probably be more acceptable to EPO staff but at the moment no such candidates are visible,” a person told us. “Another name that we [collectively speaking] are starting to hear with increasing frequency as a potential replacement for Battistelli is that of the current President of OHIM: António Campinos. We [collectively speaking] are bit sceptical about Campinos because from what we [collectively speaking] have been able to gather he is another “insider” who also seems to have close connections to Battistelli and other members of the “inner circle”. Some information about Campinos follows.”
Suffice to say, this serves to legitimise claims that Campinos is in the rumour mill (we heard this before), if not a contender too. We kindly ask readers to treat this as coverage of the state of rumours, not necessarily of any concrete discussions, e.g. at the Administrative Council or Board 28. “Campinos is currently being mentioned as a possible replacement for Battistelli,” told us one source, “but so far these are only rumours.”
More background information about Campinos
As noted above, studying the background of potential future presidents is better off done before an appointment/announcement as this can leave room for veto power/opposition. Remember the bizarre, undemocratic, opaque process by which Battistelli inherited (if not stole) Brimelow’s position. We wrote about this before. Here is what a reader told us about Campinos:
António Campinos is the current President of the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (Trade Marks and Designs).
OHIM is basically the “European Trademark Office”.
However, in contrast to the EPO, it is not an autonomous international organisation.
It is an EU agency entrusted with managing EU trade mark and design registration systems as well as promoting cooperation and convergence initiatives with national IP offices in the European Union.
For more information see the official website.
Campinos has been President of the OHIM since 2010.
He previously held the roles of IP Commissioner and President of the Directive Council of the National Institute of Industrial Property (INPI) of Portugal and Chairman of the Ad Hoc working group on the Legal Development of the Madrid System for the International Registration of Marks.
From 2005 to 2007, he was head of the Portuguese delegation to OHIM’s Administrative Board, becoming Chairman in 2007, prior to his election as President. Since 2013, Mr Campinos has also served as President of the Administrative Council of the Centre d’Études Internationales de la Propiété Intellectuelle (CEIPI).
During his time as President of the Directive Council of the Portugese National Institute of Industrial Property (INPI), Campinos also sat on the Administrative Council of the EPO.
There is regular cross-contact between the OHIM and the EPO in the field of IP and Campinos often features in press releases with Battistelli or appears at the same IP events.
2011 – EPO and OHIM agree closer cooperation
December 05, 2013 – IP contribution study unveiled in Brussels
Official Launch of New EU-China Intellectual Property Cooperation
“Building on the solid foundations created by the previous EU-China projects IPR1 and IPR2, the a new action will be implemented over a period of three years by OHIM, the EU´s largest intellectual property agency, in partnership the European Patent Office as partner. On the Chinese side will be the Department of Treaty and Law of the Ministry of Commerce, coordinating the Chinese contribution to the cooperation action, with the participation of more than 15 Chinese IP authorities.”
Training Centre for European patent judges opened in Budapest
There isn’t necessarily anything suspicious about any of this.
It can be seen as part and parcel of routine professional contacts between the Directors of two intergovernmental European IP bodies.
However, it should be noticed that Campinos seems to have quite a cosy relationship with the EPO because he managed to get appointed as a jury member for the European Inventor Award which is one of Battistelli’s favourite annual extravaganzas.
European Inventor Award – Jury members
It has been discovered that there is an even more interesting connection which involves the Menéndez Pelayo International University (UIMP) in Spain.
A key player here seems to be the former Director of the Spanish Intellectual Property Office and current EPO Vice-President, Alberto Casado Casado Cerviño who as people may recall got a mention in an article published in a Spanish newspaper last year:
What is interesting here is that Casado Cerviño, Battistelli and Campinos regularly appear as guest speakers at IP seminars organised by the UIMP.
[Editor’s note: we have decided to locally store the PDFs proving it [1, 2], including an English version, as these may become unavailable in the future]
These connections seem to go back to at least 2011 when Casado Cerviño was still Director of the Spanish Intellectual Property Office and a member of the Administrative Council and they have continued after his appointment as EPO Vice-President (see the attached PDFs).
Casado Cerviño was appointed as EPO Vice-President in 2012:
By a curious coincidence, Battistelli was awarded with an honorary doctorate from the UIMP in July 2014:
Maybe Spanish contacts/readers can provide more information about these connections.
In his role as President of the OHIM, Campinos regularly meets with the Directors of national Intellectual Property Offices.
Some interesting photos can be found on the websites of these national Intellectual Property Offices.
One can guess that Campinos was not amused to see this photo re-appear in an article entitled “Criminal proceedings pending against Topić in six cases” which was published by the Croatian news portal
tjedno.hr in April 2012:
That’s not suggesting that Campinos had any involvement in the alleged irregularities at the SIPO Croatia but we guess that it must have embarrassing for him to have his official photograph with Topic “recycled” in an article reporting about these matters.
An English translation of this article will be published at a later date.
Campinos and Battistelli: more information about EPO & OHIM cooperation
According to a 2010 article from James Nurton (MIP), Campinos won praises from WIPO. “At WIPO,” Nurton noted, “he won plaudits for his ability to encourage parties with different priorities to reach consensus.” Remember that Battistelli nearly became head of WIPO, which is now deep/mired in scandals of its own and may have other EPO connections. “Campinos was interviewed by Managing IP [MIP] in 2008,” Nurton concluded.
A reader added some bits to elaborate on/comment about possible overlaps between Campinos and Battistelli:
In 2013 EPO and OHIM jointly launched a Report on the economic performance of IP-intensive industries in the EU.
The report was subsequently criticised by Annette Kur and Dietmar Harhoff of the Max Planck Institute for Innovation and Competition: “In September 2013, EPO and OHIM jointly launched a Report on the economic performance of IP-intensive industries in the EU. Ever since its publication, the Report has been cited as bearing proof to the economic importance of IP, thereby bolstering claims for further enforcement-enhancing measures and policies. However, the eagerness with which the Report is instrumentalized for political purposes ignores the fact that, as the economists performing the study themselves have emphasized, their findings do not provide evidence regarding the causal relationship between IP and the economic data. Instead of serving a better understanding of the economics of IP, such politically tainted over-interpretations might actually discredit the analytical results and the advances in setting up a comprehensive database of IPR utilization at the firm level.”
See also this article published by IP Watch, “Researchers Say EPO/OHIM Study Is A Tale Without A Message”
A PDF of the EPO/OHIM report bears the signatures of Battistelli and Campinos.
Based on information coming from reliable sources who are close to the action, Campinos seems to be the preferred successor candidate of the Battistelli-Kongstad axis inside the Administrative Council.
It has also been suggested that he may have political support at EU level.
Apparently some people in Brussels are getting worried that the current turbulent situation at the EPO could have an adverse effect on the planned timetable for the introduction of the Unitary Patent. In these circles it seems that Campinos is viewed as someone who could be parachuted in to stabilise the situation at the EPO.
If Battistelli’s position inside the EPO is so weakened that he is forced to depart prematurely, the “game plan” in these circles seems to be to install Campinos as a “safe pair of hands” who can be trusted to manage any fallout arising from the sudden “regime change”.
It also seems that those supporting Campinos on the Administrative Council (i.e the pro-Battistelli faction led by Kongstad) are hoping that he can be relied upon to keep as many skeletons as possible from the Battistelli era safely in their closets.
A copy of the critique by Annette Kur and Dietmar Harhoff has been made local for future reference and long-term preservation. It responds to a report signed both by Battistelli and Campinos.
The notion that Battistelli would need to be thrown aside while maintaining his agenda isn’t totally outlandish. As this one comment put it this morning, EPO policies may be “the very same ones where the TTIP was “negotiated”. [...] pump for the UPC.” Here is the comment in full:
I do not for one moment believe that it was the management of the EPO who decided anything. They are only the obedient “implementers” and certainly not the master strategists.
The “decisions” are more likely to have been made behind closed doors in some smoke-filled rooms in Brussels or elsewhere. Maybe the very same ones where the TTIP was “negotiated”.
Don’t forget: lots of “dodgy patents” increases the probability of litigation and could be seen as a handy way of priming the pump for the UPC.
In this context some senior appointments at the EPO in recent years might be worth a closer investigation.
Such as: http://www.managingip.com/Article/3016676/Moves-Margot-Frhlinger-joins-EPO.html
This relates to what we wrote about last night and responds to a comment quoted therein.
In summary, Antonio Campinos has a history of being on the side of Battistelli, whereas Christoph Ernst has an (at least recent) history of criticising Battistelli. █
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Summary: The contract of Benoît Battistelli remains a closely-guarded secret and his mouthpieces provide different answers from what he ‘namedrops’ on the media
IT is no secret that the EPO now lies to journalists and lies to EPO staff. We are still waiting for hard, concrete proof of Battistelli’s salary (including all the perks), which should be made apparent from his contract (that he insistently keeps secret, unlike his predecessor).
A new translation of this French article into English
[PDF] is rather revealing and below we highlight some of the more important and unique bits:
Autocratic Frenchman under fire
By Florence Autret | 03/03/2016, 7:00 | 618 words
According to the Dutch daily De Telegraaf of 26 February, Benoît Battistelli is said to have demanded a golden handshake to speed up his departure (his term of office was renewed in 2015) of ….18
millions Euros, which would correspond to ten years of service. (Credits: DR) Business at the European Patent has never been better. But discontent is growing against the President. Criticized for his authoritarian management style, accused of nepotism, Benoît Battistelli is said to have attempted to negotiate his own departure – at least, according to the Dutch press. On Thursday, at a press conference in Brussels, he denied this completely, and denounced what he called a “campaign of calumny”.
Article published on Thursday, 3 March 2016 at 7.00, updated at 18.00
On 3 March this 65-year-old graduate of the prestigious French National Business School came to Brussels to present the impeccable results of the organization which he has headed for six years: Last year, patent applications were up by 4.8% in relation to 2014. The European Patent Office, based in Munich since 1973, cashes in on 1.5 billion Euros per year when it comes to registering patents. Its biggest clients are in the United States (27% of the applications), Germany (17%), and Japan (13%), but China is gaining ground with 22% more applications than in 2014.
“This is a reflection of the internationalisation of its companies and a sign of how swiftly it is catching up,” was Benoît Battistelli’s response.
Last year the Chinese Huawei Group came in fourth position after the Dutch Philips and two Korean companies (Samsung and LG), and ahead of Germany’s Siemens. “Europe remains an attractive market for technologies,” as the President also notes. In other words, business is booming.
But in Munich, enough is enough!
But relations between the President and his personnel have never been very good. The Frenchman is accused of nepotism, having brought in as his chief executive a former colleague from the INPI, the National Institute for Intellectual Property, and whose wife has been appointed as director of human resources. The unrest within this organization of 7,000 people is no longer confined to gossip around the coffee machine. The facts are hard and plain: Burn-outs, suicides at the workplace, a whole range of contentious disciplinary procedures against staff representatives, and so on.
In January, following the departure of two union executives, thousands of EPO staff members left their offices to gather in front of the French consulate to demand the departure of the “Frenchman”. “It’s getting worse and worse,” says Pierre-Yves Le Borgn’, French Socialist Deputy for French Citizens Abroad, who for more than two years has been monitoring the happenings at the EPO, and who, at the end of December, had an interview with Emmanuel Macron, the Minister of the Economy. In Paris he is said to have been given assurance that “no-one wants to wait for a fifth suicide to happen” before taking action. At Bercy, on the other hand, the response was “no comment.” A union source told La Tribune on Thursday that there were not four but five suicides in which there appeared to be a link between work and the lead-up to the act, and emphasised that the personnel, consisting essentially of engineers and legal experts, were subjected to “paradoxical constraints” between an intellectually highly demanding form of work and the pressures of performance.
In Germany, as in the Netherlands, where the Office employs 2700 people at the Rijswijk site near The Hague, President Battistelli has regularly featured in one or another of the media. On 2 March Bavarian television broadcast a documentary about the “nightmare” of one of the suicides in Munich.
“The suicides are personal tragedies. It is very difficult to give a reason for such a decision,” the President of the Office commented on Thursday. According to the Dutch daily De Telegraaf of 26 February, Benoît Battistelli is said to have demanded a golden handshake to speed up his departure (his term of office was renewed in 2015) of ….18 millions Euros, which would correspond to ten years of service.
“We don’t comment on rumours,” was the response on Wednesday by La Tribune, the mouthpiece of the EPO, which is one of the ever shrinking group of organizations which does not publish details of the salaries of its executives… Replying to a question from La Tribune, the President indicated that his annual salary, which is not officially published, was “300,000 Euros” annually. The rumours of his departure and the golden handshake, published by De Telegraaf, were “totally unfounded,” he maintained. These 18 million would correspond to the bonus distributed in 2015 to part of the personnel on the basis of performance indicators. “This is a political campaign”, and “calumny” says President Battistelli, who, incidentally was elected onto the municipal council of Saint-Germain en Laye on a list close to the Republicans.
For Pierre-Yves Le Borgn’, the social crisis is only a reflection of the crisis in management. The rule of “one country, one vote” prevails on the governing body, the Administrative Council. “With that principle, you can create silence” by lumping together coalitions of small countries, the Deputy explains. He goes on: “It would be a welcome step if the Member States were to take the matter in hand” by attending a ministerial conference, which has not happened for fifteen years, he says. One country, one vote: “It is the basic rule for international organizations,” replies the President of the EPO. “If the Member States want to change it, I have no objection… but I wish them good luck.” The EPO, which has 38 Member States, is not actually an institution of the European Union, where the influence of the states is weighted according to their size. The situation remains that, as from 2017, it is supposed to deliver the “Unitary Patent”, an industrial and intellectual property instrument created by the European legislature.
The next meeting of the Administrative Council is scheduled for 16 March, and promises to be a stormy event. The revolt has spread from the departments within the Office and is gaining ground among the representatives of the 38 Member States of the organization. In a recent letter to his associate members of the European Union, the Director General of the Patent Office, Jesper Kongstad, a Dane, gave notice of the lodging of a motion demanding an independent audit of the organization, and the suspension of the contentious disciplinary proceedings being taken against the staff representatives. The EPO management has given assurance that the wording of the document which will be submitted to the Council will be “considerably softened.” The President has already announced the convening of a “social conference” in the autumn and the issue of an invitation to tender for the recruitment of an “independent expert” whose task will be to come up with answers about the social situation. On 4 March he is scheduled to meet Martijn Van Dam at The Hague. The Dutch Secretary of State for Economic Affairs has been briefed about the social situation at the Rijswijk site. “The Netherlands are one of the countries which benefits most from the activity of the EPO, both as an employer as well as by way of the number of patents registered by its companies,” was the President’s rejoinder on Thursday. The Netherlands are the fifth country in the organization in terms of patents registered, and Philips hold the lead among the companies involved. Watch this space.
We have had a lot of input about Battistelli’s secret contract (it’s not what Battistelli claims without providing any evidence to the media), but we still hope that someone can leak it to us because of what Battistelli said. █
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News from Munich…
Summary: A somewhat belated translation of an important recent article from Süddeutsche Zeitung
THE EPO coverage will resume tonight (there’s much more on the way), but in the mean time, as we have just noticed a translation of this article over at SUEPO’s site, here is the English version
[PDF] with bits highlighted:
2 March 2016, 19:01
Front Lines Hardening: A Public Authority Teetering on the Brink
Strife at the European Patent Office between President and staff veering more and more out of control
By Katja Riedel
According to the announcement on Wednesday by Benoît Battistelli, President of the European Patent Office (EPO), it is supposed to be an “agreement that truly breaks new ground”. For the first time in the history of the international organization, the word is that a staff union is now being recognized as a social partner, and social peace with the workforce, which up to now has been decidedly hostile, accordingly appears to be just around the corner. However, the Office has chosen to overlook one minor detail: The union with which Battistelli has signed the memorandum of understanding is called FFPE, and, in the world of the EPO, with a workforce more than 7,000 strong, that union so far boasts less than 100 members. And at the Office headquarters in Munich, where some 4,000 people work, and a war has been raging for three years between staff representatives and the President, there is not one single FFPE member. The social dialogue accordingly resembles more of a monologue.
The fact is that in the patent world, which is all but closed to outsiders, another staff union is deeply rooted. This is called Suepo, and it represents about half of the personnel. For decades Suepo was very powerful, and what it said really counted. That is, until Battistelli came, and, on orders from the 38 Member States which had elected him, set about shaping the Office towards greater efficiency. Since then both sides have been engaged in a bitter power struggle, but with unfair resources. The President has far-reaching powers, and he is not afraid to use them, liberally, which has ultimately led from escalation to escalation. For three long years Suepo has been protesting, not just internally, against Battistelli and what they see as his excessive authoritarianism, against reforms which restrict the fundamental rights of staff members, and against Battistelli’s extremely high-handed and heavily centralized management style.
For everyone to see, staff members have marched in their thousands through Munich and to the consulates, seeking to push the Member States into at least debating Battistelli’s reforms with him. But the only body which can give orders to Battistelli has long shown itself to side with the President, and has been gentle in its admonishments, even extending his term of office during the dispute and before the expiry date, until 2018. But now it looks as if Battistelli has overstepped the mark. Since last autumn he has been hitting back hard, suspending a patent judge, who in fact, given the power structure, does not actually come under his jurisdiction at all, which has caused a considerable stir in the various governing bodies as well as on the patent scene in general. According to the findings of an internal investigation unit, the man is supposed to have used more than 20 aliases to conduct a campaign of defamation against the President and other leading executives, and thereby created major upset within the Office. The man disputes the accusations. At the beginning of the year, Battistelli then dismissed Suepo chief executive Elizabeth Hardon, due to alleged bullying and complicity with the judge. Two other members of the Suepo governing body went with her.
Currently doing the rounds in the Office is a letter from the head of the Administrative Council, Jesper Kongstad, a Dane, who once had his eyes on the Presidency. Since then, he has been a Battistelli man – or, more precisely, he was. Kongstad has indicated, on behalf of 28 Member States, that there was something of a showdown with the President within the close management circle at two meetings in February. The main issue appears to have been the social conflict within the Office. In particular, the governing body wanted to discuss the case of the dismissed union members with him. Regrettably, it seems that it was impossible to engage the President in a meaningful dialogue, according to Kongstad’s letter. During the meeting he apparently rejected the requests out of hand, because the Member States were trying to undermine his authority. These attempts included the disciplinary issues as well as allowing the work of the controversial investigation unit to be vetted by an outside source. Battistelli appears to have then left the meeting.
According to some newspapers, such as the Dutch De Telegraaf, the word was that Battistelli had envisaged stepping down, and was negotiating a golden handshake of 18 million Euro. “Utter rubbish” was the response from the circle around the President, and things appear to have calmed down again. Battistelli is said to be prepared to compromise on four out of six issues, but significantly not with regard to disciplinary procedures and external monitoring – the key points. Suepo are accused of stirring up the conflict alone, in order to secure their own survival. The union apparently refused to have further dealings with Battistelli due to the dismissals, nor were they prepared to enter into any agreement which would de facto have caused them to forego further influence.
How things turn out for the Office, for Battistelli, and for social peace, could well be decided in mid-March. Specifically, the demands from the Administrative Council will be high on the formal agenda at the next meeting of its full body. A straightforward majority of 38 votes could then force the President to implement the demands. Should he not do so, the Administrative Council could then, at the next meeting in June, call for him to step down, which would require three-quarters of the votes. The name of a possible successor for the top job is in fact already being bandied about, that of the German member of the Administrative Council, Christoph Ernst, from the Federal Ministry of Justice. Word has it that Battistelli considers that not even to be an option. He is in the best of moods – so it is said.
There is something rather strange (infighting perhaps) going on at Süddeutsche Zeitung, but we’re likely to cover this some time in the future when there’s more clarity on the matter.
Over the weekend we plan to work on making local copies of the TV program which covered the EPO scandals earlier this month (making a wave in Germany and changing public opinion). The EPO’s high-level management is evidently desperate to make it go away, to no longer be accessible online (this has already happened) and gradually be forgotten. █
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