What people say behind the mask of anonymity
Summary: A series of anonymous comments from the IP Kat blog say various things about the EPO management which ought to be recorded permanently, just in case of further censorship attempts
THE LEVEL of unrest at the EPO has increased following the dismissal of staff representatives. The comments in IP Kat are quite telling. Anonymous commenters flock there to express anger.
One person wrote the following comment the other day:
Interesting theory I heard from an HR services company.
They often encounter CEOs that push for contract prolongation, and directly afterwards start doing more and more questionable things, and make themselves totally unwanted by staff, until the board of contractors fire him. The golden handshake simply is larger that way…
They often see it with CEOs well beyond retirement age. Those do not make themselves unemployable by others, as they actually want to retire, but also want a big golden handshake.
A real problem exists for those who (silently) supported the CEO, as those get burned by his tactic and become unemloyable for other companies, but won’t get such a nice golden handshake.
But the EPO is a political body, this tactic seems to be more difficult to achieve, if that even is the case.
Here is an apt response to the HR aspect (we have a lot more coming some other day regarding EPO HR):
¨Further, the service regulations can be changed at will, as the EPO personal recently found out: career cuts, suppression of invalidity insurance, etc… When you enter the EPO, you sign a contract which you have to respect under penalty of being fired and have your pension cuts… and the EPO can change its end of the deal whenever they want. This kind of contract have a legal name, but nobody realized what they were really offered when they entered the EPO. Now they realize but they can’t get out.¨.
When this is true the advertisement asking for new examiners and other staff of the EPO should mention this. Also the SUEPO has an information task. Everything possible should be used to change these rules. Such contracts are against all existing national rules and laws.This is something for the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR; French: Cour européenne des droits de l’homme) is a supranational or international court established by the European Convention on Human Rights. It hears applications alleging that a contracting state has breached one or more of the human rights provisions concerning civil and political rights set out in the Convention and its protocols. The contracting states, in particular The Netherlands and Germany are tolerating the terrible situation in the EPO.
There is also discussion about the legal status of the EPO, for instance:
Dear Mr Kilroy, the European Patent Office does not adhere to the European Convention on Human Rights. Your request is therefore irreceivable.
Sorry to be blunt, but you are not the first person to suggest to go to this or that court, etc… Much have been tried, and the EPO always won in the last instance on the simple ground of immunity. How long will it take before people start to realize that there is no legal recourse whatsoever against the EPO?
The problem is with the system. There is NO legal recourse.
This is valid for all parties: staff, European patent attorneys and applicants. It is just that it has only be used against staff at present.
The President does indeed seem to believe that the EPO is totally immune from national law, but this is not what the EPC says. Art 8 EPC: [the EPOrg and EPO employees] “shall enjoy…the privileges and immunities necessary for the performance of their duties”. Those “duties” surely mean the granting of patents and nothing more.
Similarly Article 3(1) of the protocol on privileges and immunities states: “Within the scope of its official activities the Organisation shall have immunity from jurisdiction and execution”, and Article 3(4) “The official activities of the Organisation shall, for the purposes of this Protocol, be such as are strictly necessary for its administrative and technical operation, as set out in the Convention.”
So: only official activities are immune, official activities being things strictly necessary for performing the EPC. This is not a blanket immunity, despite what the president might say!
What would happen, for example, if a crime such as assault or theft was committed in the EPO premises in Munich? Clearly this is not immune according to the above definitions, and the Munich police would be involved.
However presumably the EPO management/lawyers, if challenged, would argue that breaching human rights is “strictly necessary” for the operation of the EPO – say because various staff activities were somehow impeding the grant of patents.
But note the double-standard here when the president alleged that the suspended board member possessed in the EPO building an item that could be classed as a weapon “under German law”. So clearly national law can be applied when it meets management’s needs.
(German weapons law, by the way, includes in its definition of a weapon portable objects which, due to their properties, method of operation or how they work, are able to remove or reduce humans` ability to attack or defend, *even if not intended for that purpose*. So with the “defendant” gagged and unable to respond, an innocent piece of exercise equipment becomes a “weapon” – when the EPO decides for once that German law is relevant, after all…)
More on the same:
Kilroy (18:00) raises an interesting point, and one that has been bugging me ever since these allegations started leaking out of the EPO.
If we are to believe Team Battistelli, the suspended DG3 member and assorted staff members have been engaged in all manner of “deplorable” activities: slander, defamation, intimidation, threats of violence, hacking, hoarding of fascist propaganda, stockpiling of weapons, and so on and so forth to ever more fanciful extremes.
Perhaps some or all of these are offences under, say, German or Dutch law. But the EPO repeatedly asserts total immunity from any jurisdiction. So according to what law do these activities – even if they *have* taken place, which is far from being proven to any degree, let alone beyond reasonable doubt – constitute an offence within the walls of the EPO? German law does not apply in Munich HQ, nor Dutch law in the Hague branch, or so we are asked to believe. That being the case, how have the accused employees committed any offence?
Presumably the ServRegs are the source of “law”. Now, I can believe that these might foresee the need to deal with everyday workplace disciplinary matters such as bullying and harassment. But did the authors really have the foresight to include, say, storage of propaganda, or weapons? I find this hard to believe.
Can any insiders shed any light here?
The immunity from the ECHR applies to the EPO, and all cases I have heard of have attempted to bring the EPO to court.
However, the member states are not immune from the ECHR, and they could be brought to court for signing an agreement (the EPC) which is incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights.
And then this:
The member states, in particular the Netherlands and Germany, are not immune from the ECHR. They could be brought to court for signing an agreement (the EPC) which is incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights. There are a lot of such incompatibilities as follows inter alia from the Judgment of the Dutch Court of Appeal
(26/02/2015) The Office has progressively and severely eroded a number of fundamental union and human rights. The countries are aware of these incompatibilities and wrongnesses and tolerates them and accept the catastrophic situation within the EPO.
More on the lawlessness:
A reason more for very soon a diplomatic conference to change this for Europe, the small industries/applicants and the examiners wrong and dangerous EPC. The absence of applicable law and the absence of a competent tribunal should be changed soon.The european states are “constitutional states” in which the exercise of governmental power is constrained by the law. It is the opposite of a state based on the arbitrary use of power.
Now regarding the role of the Administrative Council (AC):
It becomes clearer, why the AC members sit on their hands. The more they protest, the more vindictive BB gets, venting his ever-growing pleen against those employees that incur his displeasure.
If you sat on the AC, with one vote in 38, what would you do?
One person responded with: “err, grow a pair?
“The AC: spineless, careerist, self-interested. To misquote a misquoute: All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
Here is a more polite response to that:
If you sat on the AC, with one vote in 38, what would you do?
The Rule of Law, respect of Human Rights are not a matter of “votes” (“… and the results are … 18 for and 20 against – the proposal to abide to the Rule of Law and Human Rights at the European Patent Office is therefore rejected by this Administrative Council. Thank you ladies and gentlemen. We will now pass to the next important topic on the agenda … oh yes, the colour of the moquette in new building at the Hague …”).
It’s not a matter of “what would you do?”.
It’s a matter of “what you should do”.
Now a similar scenario involving WIPO (we covered this before) is brought up:
The member states are more immune from the ECHR than you think. Violations in international organizations are not that uncommon. Just staying in patent world: what happened to the staff representative fired at WIPO last year?
I should also insist that the legal vacuum does not only concern examiners. To take a known example: after the criticism raised during the Inventor of the Year event, Battistelli decided to lower the priority for French searches in retribution against the speech of Ms. Lemaire (the EPO searches for the French patent office since the times of the IIB). The examiners had no choice, because they will get bad marks if they don’t process the files in the order the computer presents them, a change introduced last year.
Basically, French searches were delayed about 2 months in comparison to PCT searches for US applicants. One can easily figure out that this may put French applicants at a disadvantage, given that these early searches are used to take a decision to pursue or not the file during the priority year.
Do you think French applicants have a way to complain about that revengeful decision? No, they don’t. There is simply no applicable law and no competent tribunal.
Other patent offices are being mentioned too:
Of course there are some revolutionary souls amongst us who wonder why the EPO is search French national applications (or for that matter Belgian and Italian applications) and PCT applications filed at the USPTO when it has such an enormous backlog of European applications awaiting search and examination.
An examiner-turned-lawyer wrote:
…and before someone objects that human examination is needed: Battistelli is French and France had a registration system for patents. France tradition is that examination is not necessary.
Well, of course substantive examination is not actually necessary. The French and Swiss manage very well without it, thank you very much. It’s the applicant’s responsibility to make sure that his claimed invention is new and inventive. Nothing wrong with that, as long as everyone understands what’s expected of them. And you need a decent patent attorney, of course.
If you’re going to have examination, though, you had better make sure that it’s damn good. The worst situation of all is where you have a search and examination process which is held up as being top quality, and is therefore trusted by applicants, opponents, national courts, the UPC…, but is actually pretty shoddy. This leads to all kinds of trouble and expense, but sadly this kind of trouble and expense occurs far beyond the reach of the EPO’s quality monitoring.
I’ll say it again: poor examination favours large corporations at the expense of the little guy. Better not to examine at all if you can’t examine with really excellent quality.
On the matter of loyalty:
It is all in the service regulations actually. These specify that the staff should be “loyal” to the organization. There is some reason in that: somebody criticizing patents in the open would not be acceptable as a patent examiner, for example.
The slight change here is that the EPO changed “loyal to the organization” to “loyal to the president and his friends”.
Techrights is then cited as follows:
EPO Vice-President Loses Defamation Lawsuit — AGAIN!
Sinking deeper and deeper in the mud the EPO is.
Disgraceful all this is.
More about VP4:
All a bit surreal but must raise some questions somewhere. Surely…
The BoA member was accused of spreading defamatory stories about VP4. I can’t remember the full details but the issue seemed to include the allegations about cars which have been at the heart of the case in Croatia which has been settled. And not in VP4′s favour it seems. Maybe there’s another level of appeal to come?
But, in any case, the courts seem to consider that the Croatian lady’s statements were not defamatory. So presumably the BoA member could not be making defamatory statements either?? And the sacked Union chairwoman (even if she did give him help – denied by her I think) could not be assisting in any defamatory act?
A tangled mess. The EBoA may have been right in their analysis and maybe the AC was misled about the certainties? However it plays, nobody comes out of it well but, unfortunately, the only ones who suffer were actually ones who seem to be innocent.
It does raise, again, the question of what laws do apply within the EPO. The vague accusations of defamatory statement making do not specify under what set of laws. Clearly, Croatian law does not consider them defamatory. Does the EPO pick and choose these extra-territorial definitions or does the president make it up as he goes along?
This is an interesting little bit, which might actually have some factual basis:
new cunning action in sight by EPO top management : introduce 5 years’ contract for examiners by the June administrative council…
As a reply to that consider:
(Ref: 5 years contracts.)
That would be consistent with the EPO management pushing automation of search and examination at present. The EPO will need a lot less examiners in 5 years.
…and before someone objects that human examination is needed: Battistelli is French and France had a registration system for patents. France tradition is that examination is not necessary.
One person has just added: “Regarding immunity and the rule of law within the EPO buildings, does EU health and safety law apply? If even arguably not, then how can we, as EU employers, send our staff there e.g. to Oral Proceedings, surely we are then in breach of our duty of care to our employees?
“PS UK should not ratify UPC and EU should not subcontract anything to EPO until these issues are clear.”
Regarding the part which asked, “…does EU health and safety law apply?” one person wrote: “Luckily it’s not required, because the President can rule on such matters.”
Another responded with: “While the answer to this question is unclear, it was noticed that, when stricter smoking regulations were introduced in Germany (designated smoking areas usw.) the EPO quickly adopted a similar policy.”
One person then responded with: “Well, the truth is that all EPO buildings are no smoking zones. The president however had the smoke detectors in his presidential suite on the 10th floor of the Isar building and those in a small room next to the auditorium, which he uses in interruptions of the AC meetings, disconnected. So much for his respect of the law, regulations and – worse – of his staff´s security.”
Another person replied with: “yet the smoke alarms are disabled in certain offices to ensure proper functioning of the office, and at least one person has been relieved of their position because of complaints when someone smoked on their working place…..
“Regarding national law applicable or not: I find it problematic to fire someone because of alleged violations against German law, when no court has decided that the used formulation in the SUEPO financial support clauses are illegal. There have been legal opinions presented by the union that these clauses are legal. The office claims they have a legal opinion of an independent attorney stating otherwise, but they refuse to present it to anyone. This is s.th. a German judge has to decide on, as it relates to German law. But German law is not applicable to the EPO, therefore such a judge’s decission is not necessary.”
The above comments contain new information which we cannot necessarily verify. We find it important to document these for future reference, in case IP Kat suffers the same kinds of SLAPP attacks that we were subjected to. █
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The EPO’s standards for media and communications similar to those of Myanmar
Summary: An effort to discover just how many people out there have been subjected to censorship and/or self-censorship by EPO aggression against the media
WHAT the EPO did to us [1, 2, 3] last month and earlier this month (for a number of weeks) is important because it can help inform other sites of what EPO has been up to and how to stand up to it. We already have evidence to show that Team Battistelli is using the “chilling effect” against politicians, lawyers, bloggers, journalists, and even government delegates. How far will these sociopaths go? The EPO is already aping Myanmar’s low standards for media and communications.
“For EPO staff (not managers) remedy may already be on the way, especially as more people become aware of these issues and English-speaking journalists finally write more about it.”In our first part of this multi-part series we showed our reasons for suspicion that EPO lawyers had lazily used a template and didn’t even change the name when they sent a threatening letter. This led us to the supposition that other sites were being threatened with action too. We don’t know which sites — if any — these were. This kind of evidence suggests that other such letters were sent to other publishers, demanding that they take down their articles about the EPO. We don’t know if such letters were maybe to SUEPO as well (takedown letters). We already know that SUEPO removed some links from its public site. EPO management put them under threat, hence FOSS Patents links and Heise links got removed (we wrote about this at the time, back in early autumn). Any information about what exactly happened back then would be greatly appreciated. There is a campaign of “chilling effect” against dissent and if nobody speaks out, as a French blogger did a few months ago, we wouldn’t know just how widespread this campaign is. Based on the letter we received, it is likely that the EPO went also after German blogger or journalist (someone called Mr. Schneider).
For EPO staff (not managers) remedy may already be on the way, especially as more people become aware of these issues and English-speaking journalists finally write more about it. More of them will weigh in more often throughout the rest of this year, based on information that we have. Reprieve won’t come from EPO collapse but from EPO managers accepting that they need to obey the law (or resign). █
“A single lie destroys a whole reputation of integrity.”
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Like Ferdinand Marcos, Benoît Battistelli declares de facto martial law (with help from Control Risks) to perpetuate his tyranny and aggressively eliminate dissent
Summary: Criticism of the EPO’s thuggish behaviour and endless efforts to crush dissenting voices by all means available, even when these means are in clear violation of international or European laws
The EPO‘s attempts to gag and/or censor Techrights using threats [1, 2] is becoming the subject of some news coverage with a broad audience. As this one article (among several) put it: “In fact, to argue that Schestowitz’s post is defamatory is crazy. Threatening Schestowitz with a defamation claim is much crazier and dangerous than even Schestowitz’s own interpretation of the EPO’s memo. If you’re working for a government agency, such as the EPO, you have to be willing to accept some amount of criticism, even if you disagree with it. To claim it’s defamation and to threaten a lawsuit is really, really screwed up. [...] I’m having trouble thinking of any other governmental agency that has ever threatened a public critic with defamation. Basic concepts around free speech suggest that the EPO should suck it up. If it disagrees with Schestowitz’s interpretation of what it’s doing, then it can come out and explain its side of the story. Threatening him with defamation actually only makes me think that perhaps his interpretation hits closer to home than I originally believed.”
“That might be one important reason why cleaning out the EPO stable is different from FIFA. At the EPO, there are victims.”
–AnonymousI am not the first EPO and/or UPC critic whom the EPO threatened to sue, it’s just that a lot of people don’t know about these cases. The EPO hopes that its victims will stay silent and afraid. In fact, this one example may have resulted in the site becoming inactive (for a number of years now).
Techrights is eager to get to the bottom of everything and won’t give up as the EPO probably hoped it would. “I finish on one straw of hope,” an anonymous comment wrote last night. “Thinking about FIFA, there are not thousands of employees involved. That might be one important reason why cleaning out the EPO stable is different from FIFA. At the EPO, there are victims.”
Some of these victims commit suicide, too.
“In the coming days or weeks we intend to show that what the EPO did wasn’t just foolish but also dubious from a legal standpoint.”The EPO is clearly out of control. It is a quasi-political entity working using taxpayers’ money (to some degree) and abusing those taxpayers. Think about if for a moment; that’s worse than the British Conservative party hypothetically threatening to sue blogs critical of British Conservatives. In the case of the EPO it’s even worse because it was not even elected and the British Conservative party is not taking the money of the public to use for its own promotion at election time.
In the coming days or weeks we intend to show that what the EPO did wasn’t just foolish but also dubious from a legal standpoint. Then again, the EPO doesn’t exactly care about what’s legal. It mostly disregards the laws and makes up its own on a whim (or the President’s whim). The two last comments which stand out in the above article say that “EPOnia is not a “government agency”, it is legally a Kingdom above the EU countries, it is a tyranny with ZERO accountability… legal-wise”; another says “German employer rules or any other EU country do not apply inside EPOnia”.
If EPO thinks that it is above international law, then we need to show here just to what degree it disregards — if not deliberately violates — the law. █
“Denial ain`t just a river in Egypt.”
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“First They Ignore You, Then They Ridicule You, Then They Fight You.”
Summary: Having already blocked Techrights, the EPO’s management proceeds to further suppressions of speech, impeding its staff’s access to independently-distributed information (neither ordinary staff nor management)
THIS is a multi-part series regarding the highly abusive behaviour of the EPO, which decided to become confrontational not just against its own staff but also journalists. This is not a case of one person versus Techrights but a case of institutional harassment from a body which isn’t even complying with the law in doing so.
Techrights did not wish to publicise this, but last week there were rumours about it and journalists reached out for a comment, eventually publishing details about this whole situation. The article from WIPR has just been published (that was just moments ago), probably necessitating a response from us. There is too much to say considering the limited space of a blog, so we will do this in several parts. We want to make our side of the story known, so anyone who can blog about this or mention it publicly in social media, mass media etc. would help our cause, which is basically similar if not overlapping to the cause of EPO staff (the highly-skilled staff, such as examiners, not the managers). Anyone who has spent some time learning about the EPO scandals can easily see who’s right and who’s wrong. There are hardly even “two sides” here, except perhaps the “truth” side and the “spin” (or “damage control”) side. I have voluntarily — not for any personal gain — spent well over a year examining documents night and day, so I have a fairly good grasp or total awareness of all these scandals. I also know documents which I cannot publish.
“Anyone who has spent some time learning about the EPO scandals can easily see who’s right and who’s wrong.”I have been writing critically about companies (private companies) for over a decade, but never before has anyone responded like the EPO’s thugs did. We never received legal letters, even after writing close to 20,000 blog posts! The EPO, you see, is ‘special’. It has a history of trademark-trolling against critics. This whole thing does not exactly surprise me, having observed the aggressive ways of the EPO. I was only a little surprised to have discovered that they invoked the Streisand Effect by blocking (blacklisting or book-burning) my analyses and even more surprised that they declared a war on journalists. Who advised them on this? It’s truly misguided as it always backfires. It sounds as though they try to personify the EPO, in the form of Battistelli. I don’t think their lawyers even realise what kind of “blowback” (from EPO staff) their client is stepping into. Battistelli is probably the most hated person, even among his own staff.
“Always remember,” one person told me in Twitter. “Government has unlimited resources to destroy targets, unlike companies…”
When I first received a letter from EPO lawyers I assumed that there were trolling me. It clearly seemed as though they were sending template letters to a lot of people with threats, with the clear goal of censoring unwanted publicity. How did I know? The letter was addressed to the wrong person. They used the wrong name (see screenshot below). Template fail?
“This is quite likely a widespread campaign intended to chill and suppress journalists.”In every such circumstance, one has the right to know who is the accuser is, but the lawyers didn’t make it clear. They even refuted themselves therein. We have already seen the same kind of bullying used against Elizabeth Hardon, where there are efforts to exploit lack of awareness of the laws (no lawyers are allowed to be present) and therefore bring allegations against a person from a total vacuum, not a person.
Encircled below is proof or likely evidence that this is a widespread campaign, targeting people other than myself and subjecting them to gags, which my lawyer says are not legally-binding or potent (I never consented to these gags anyway).
A section of the first legal letter (among 4) sent to me
We kindly ask Mr. Schneider — whoever that may be — to consider coming out and telling us if he too was subjected to this kind of treatment from the EPO. This is quite likely a widespread campaign intended to chill and suppress journalists. This way, only ‘media partners’ such as Les Échos [1, 2, 3] or journalists who are complicit with EPO management (e.g. in defaming staff) will have their say. Others will self-censor or altogether refrain from coverage (either because of direct pressure from EPO or from a pressured/nervous editor/publisher). I personally experienced this kind of pressure when working as a journalist around 8 years ago. Techrights helped me combat self-censorship or editorial censorship. Everything was fine until I started ‘daring’ to write about the EPO.
In a future articles we will tackle the EPO’s accusations and also show why proper legal procedures were not even followed. █
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On newspapers for sale, not to the public but to the richest 1%
Summary: French newspaper Les Échos is self-censoring yet again and it is framing the EPO scandals as the fault of employees, not the fault of abusive managers who are working with Les Échos as a so-called ‘media partner’ (the EPO management is French-dominated)
We’ve finally finished colour-coding the EPO Wiki. Some of the items which we covered earlier this year showed how the EPO’s management had paid journals, newspapers and so on for puff pieces and positive coverage (basically bought coverage). Is this what science and technology stand for? Isn’t that a gross abuse of EPO funds? Remember how newspapers went as far as censoring their own reporters after the EPO’s managers had apparently paid. We’ll never forget this.
“Some of the items which we covered earlier this year showed how the EPO’s management had paid journals, newspapers and so on for puff pieces and positive coverage (basically bought coverage).”A reader has drawn our attention to this French article (translation would be appreciated). “I saw this bit in one of the comments,” he explained, “which you don’t seem to have picked up.”
Since we don’t have people who comprehend French here, it hasn’t helped. “Truly jaw-dropping,” called it our reader, “and we’ve seen a lot in this story already. “Les Échos” is a French business newspaper, who already swiftly canned coverage mildly unfavorable to Benoît Battistelli.”
We covered it earlier this year. Les Échos is basically disgracing itself and demonstrates that it self-censors based on who’s paying. The EPO is disgracing itself by paying journalists.
“Here are the first few lines of what on the surface seems to be a piece of, er, commissioned work,” wrote our reader, “followed by my quick translation…”
Here is what was sent to us:
Accueil > Dossiers thema > Transformation : mettre de l’agilité dans son organisation
Transformation : les « ennemis » de l’intérieur
Collaborateurs, syndicats et même patrons sont parfois si réfractaires au changement que le processus de transformation de l’entreprise s’en trouve contrarié. Les exemples de l’Office européen des brevets (OEB), Air France KLM et de PSA.
Looking at the page right now, we notice that it says this:
Collaborateurs, syndicats et même patrons sont parfois si réfractaires au changement que le processus de transformation de l’entreprise s’en trouve contrarié. Les exemples de l’Office européen des brevets (OEB), Air France et KLM.
Got the difference? Focus on the part that says “et de PSA.” Got removed? Was it self-censorship? Editorial decision? Pressure from the entities covered? Les Échos is increasingly looking like a farce.
Here is the translation we have been given:
Home -> Themes -> Transformation -> put agility in your organisation
Transformation: The enemies within
“Employees, unions and even bosses are sometimes so averse to change that the business transformation process is hindered. Some examples from the EPO, Air France KLM, and PSA.”
The part about PSA was altogether removed. In fact, PSA (PSA Peugeot-Citroen) is no longer even mentioned in this article at all! What a splendid act of deletionism, regarding a French entity (like much of the EPO’s management).
“The rest is a sickening puff piece,” told us the reader, “essentially LITERALLY revolving on how poor old Conducator Benoît Battistelli is hindered in his Promethean achievements by a mean backward union hostile to progress.”
As one person put it in IP Kat comments:
Maybe the appropriate moment to remind the readers that the French newspaper Les Echos is a “media partner” of the EPO (see the bottom of this page for example: http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:2eNzC-MVKc0J:https://www.epo.org/learning-events/european-inventor_fr.html , or already reported on this very blog: http://ipkitten.blogspot.de/2015/06/french-toast-leaves-sour-taste-for.html ). Les Echos is bound by contract with the EPO and whilst Mr. Benoît Battistelli is so boastful on transparency, the contracts with the EPO “media partners”, alike his own employement contract, are well kept secrets. Careful observers can only speculate that actual journalism is not part of it since when it happens by accident, it is promptly corrected: http://techrights.org/2015/06/18/les-echos-epo-censorship/ and http://ipkitten.blogspot.de/2015/06/french-toast-leaves-sour-taste-for.html ).
Anyone having followed the events can only come to the conclusion that the latest report of Les Echos does not depart from this secret contract since the misrepresentation of facts is systematic and the comparison of the EPO with other patent offices, not as local administrative authorities but as competing private entities, is stunning!
There are other good comments there, one about the timing of this article (exactly a day after massive staff protests, immediately to be followed by projection and blame-shifting):
I was at the demo and this article seems to have forgotten an important fight: the timing.
In their last meeting, the council instructed the president to renew social dialogue and start a social study. On the very day the board 28 meets, the president suspends 3 elected personal representatives. It cannot be by chance that it happens the very same day. Next, to make sure the council really loses face, he will probably fire all three on the day the council meets in december.
In the demo, Els Hardon said it looked like a declaration of war from the president to the council. Apparently, it is also not the first time that the president tells members of the council (who are supposed to be his superiors) that they are idiots and that he knows better.
The president is out of control. He is not following the orders from the council, that is a blatant fact. In the demo, it was asked whether he is actually becoming insane (not by Els hardon, I don’t remember by whom, more people spoke).
Now I have a question: what happens if the president of the office is incapacited (for example, because he is becoming insane)? Is there a provision in that case, something like an interim? I would like an article about that.
In the future we will cover more such stories because it is evident that EPO meddling/intervening inside the media (like paying Les Échos or some respected journals) has an effect. Les Échos is once again defending the EPO’s management, perhaps hoping for money to come from it in the future. Corporate media is not designed to inform; it’s designed to maximise profit. █
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The previous header, prior to our Web site’s anniversary, put aside for now
Summary: The Techrights Web site is soon turning 9, whereupon we plan to invest even more time and effort to more effectively expose institutional corruption
IN SPITE of attempts to muzzle the site, Techrights is still going strong and broadening its audience. As one might expect, a site as outspoken as this (sometimes saying what others are afraid or reluctant to say) has become the target of some rather abusive people and as a result we intend to increase veracity, devotion, and persistence. Intimidation against us only makes us stronger. The coming week will bring some new reports about the EPO, whose Wiki we gradually improved over the weekend (identifying separable themes of abuses). We wholeheartedly thank both supporters and anonymous sources that made this possible.
“Freedom is not free and human rights are not free, either. They can go away when people stop fighting to protect them, history shows.”“Defending digital freedom and exposing corruption since 2006″ says the new banner (it might still not be visible because of multimedia caching at our proxy). It doesn’t mean that anything is changing with respect to TechBytes, the audiocast, it just means that we soon (in just a couple of weeks) celebrate an important anniversary and we also approach 20,000 posts/articles. The most active years were half a decade ago, back when we published over 3,600 posts per year (more than 10 per day, on average). In order to get back to these levels we might need readers’ support, which does not necessarily mean financial support. Freedom is not free and human rights are not free, either. They can go away when people stop fighting to protect them, history shows. People need to fight for them and people must defend free speech, sometimes at all costs. It’s when the ruling class manages to silence the oppressed that all hope is lost and change is anything but inevitable.
“Thank you” we again say to everyone who has supported us over the years and we look forward to another decade or more. Here is how to contact us anonymously. █
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The key is anonymity
Summary: Advice for potential whistleblowers, or sources with evidence of abuse that they wish to anonymously share with the world (via Techrights)
OVER the years Techrights has received critical information from dozens of sources, all of which remained safe (unexposed). But this does not mean that all of them did this safely. This article provides advice for those who wish to pass to us information in the safest of ways, without having to do a lot of complicated things.
Why Not Off-the-shelf, Self-contained Secure Software?
Over the past 6 months or so we have looked into various bits of Free/libre software, e.g. Briefkasten (no longer actively maintained, as of 2013) and SecureDrop, which is too big a project (massive also in the source code sense compared to Briefkasten, not to mention difficult to set up). After much effort we decided to settle for something which is simpler to use and is much faster to use. To facilitate leaking of sensitive documents (e.g. evidence of misconduct) we mostly require anonymity, as the content of the material does not — in its own right — do much (if anything) to expose the source.
Typically, whole frameworks are built for distributed and de-centralised leaking. This requires quite a bit of hardware, which in turn needs to be set up and properly configured. It’s complicated for both sides (source and receiver) and it’s usually developed for large teams of journalists, for constant interaction with sources, or a regular flow of material. We do not require something this advanced. In practice, a one-time document drop is usually enough.
Our Proposed Solution
We have decided that the following method would be good enough given the nature of leaks we normally receive. They are typically about technology, rather than some military or surveillance apparatus such as the CIA’s assassination (by drones) programme or the NSA’s mass surveillance programme.
For extra security, we kindly ask people to ensure anonymity/privacy tools are used, notably Tor. Without it, privacy/anonymity cannot be assured to a high degree. It’s possible, but it would not be unbreakable (meaning too great an effort and a challenge for spies to take on).
Establishing a Secure (Anonymous) Session
Follow the following steps, with (1) for extra assurance of anonymity.
- Install Tails or prepare a Tails device (e.g. Live CD) to boot on a laptop, in order to simplify session creation with Tor (for those who insist on using Windows we have this guide
- Irrespective of (1), seek public wireless/wired access in something like a mall (preferably not a sit-down like a coffee shop, where cameras are operated and situated in a way that makes it easy to track individuals by faces, payment with debit/credit cards and so on). The idea is to seek a place — any place — where it is hard to know the identity of the connected party, even by association (e.g. friend or family). Do not use a portable telephone (these are notoriously not secure and regularly broadcast location).
- Refrain from doing any browsing that can help identify patterns or affiliations of the user (e.g. session cookies). In fact, unless Tails is used, it might be worth installing a new browser (Opera for instance) and doing nothing on it prior to the sending of material. This reduces the cookie trail/footprint.
Send the material
Once logged in anonymously, anonymously (do not log in) submit text through Pastebin and take the resultant URL for later pasting. Do not pass PDFs for non-textual material. Instead take shots of them, to reduce/eliminate metadata which is often being passed along with them. Then submit to Anonmgur and make a note of the resultant URL for later pasting.
This is typically a one-way communication channel, so add any context which is necessary, then link to the above material as follows:
- Log in to the
#techrights IRC Channel via the Web browser.
- Choose a pseudonym and sooner or later we will get around to seeing the new arrival and checking what there is to be said (there are dozens of us there).
- Drop the link/s in the channel. If someone is on the keyboard at the time, there might even be time for interaction. Do not say anything that can help reveal identity (sometimes the language itself is revealing).
While not impenetrable, it would take an enormous amount of effort (and connections in several high places) to unmask a source who follows the steps above. Unless it’s a high-profile political leak, such an unmasking effort would be well beyond what’s worth pursuing (expensive and complicated). MAC address-level spying often assumes access to very high places (and deep into back rooms), so therein lies no significant danger, especially when the best anonymity tools are properly used and the incentive to unmask isn’t great enough at high places (usually the political or military establishments). █
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The EPO’s management wants war
Summary: A statement of intent to delve even deeper into EPO affairs, in an effort to expose what has become large-scale and systemic abuse far too great to ignore
AS regular readers may have noticed, we have begun improving our EPO Wiki (still work in progress) and we intend to cover the abuses of the EPO’s management a lot more frequently than in past months. There are clearly institutional abuses there. It needs to change and it is possible the in this process some heads will roll, whereupon they will attempt to shoot the messengers (even engaging in legal bullying).
“We hereby invite people to kindly provide us with information they are aware of that merits publication.”As the chronology shows quite clearly, our original opposition to the EPO’s position was mainly about software patents. Software developers just simply don’t want them and don’t need them. The President of the FFII, a programmer and an opponent of the UPC (because it can usher into Europe software patents) wrote this tweet yesterday, taking note of the horrible thing which is being shoved — undemocratically as a matter of fact — down the throats of all Europeans:
EPO says on its automated translation website of patents that it should not be used for important commercial decisions. #epo #fail #unipat
This is all about maximising the scope of injunctions, the scope of patents and so on. It’s all about globalists and multinational corporations that are drunk on power and continue their power grab behind closed doors (e.g. the TPP).
In the US, by contract, software patents may now be on their way out. Seyfarth Shaw LLP, like many software patents-centric lawyers these days, does not want the public to know about it. They are cherry-picking incidents that are the exception to the norm, namely that Alice eliminates software patents in various US courts.
Given that the United States, the original home of software patents, is moving away from software patents, why would Europe ever consider phasing them in, if not due to corruption and aggressive lobbying?
Expect Techrights to dedicate more space to these issues in the near and distant future. We hereby invite people to kindly provide us with information they are aware of that merits publication. We have a perfect record of never letting down sources (this site will soon turn 9). Anonymity is more important than encryption for this purpose (we are working on a secure drop-box to better facilitate this). If the EPO’s management wants war, which it evidently does (as we shall explain next month), then it will need to mount an ugly war on whistleblowers, then face the consequences in the European or even international media. █
“Staff at the European Patent Office went on strike accusing the organization of corruption: specifically, stretching the standards for patents in order to make more money.
“One of the ways that the EPO has done this is by issuing software patents in defiance of the treaty that set it up.”
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