Bonum Certa Men Certa

Heise Article Tackles EPO 'Feud' (Union Busting in Disguise), Techrights' Remarks Follow

There is a clever and nasty new media strategy, aided by evil peripheral firms



Summary: Benoît Battistelli's EPO is engaged in an information war -- a war of spin and deception in the mass media (a new media strategy on the face of it) and we respond to it below because many of the EPO's arguments are either fictional or defamatory (or both)

AN EPO article which we mentioned here the other day, an article from Heise (largest news source in Germany, at least for IT), has just been translated. An accurate English translation is formally published by SUEPO, the largest EPO union whose existence predates even mine and the EPO's (almost my parents' existence too, if SUEPO's predecessor/previous identity is also considered). SUEPO (SU stands for Staff Union) isn't some "new union on the block", it has a very long history and a huge number of members, who make it a legitimate representation of staff's views. Its members are very well educated; many are doctors from all across Europe. There is a very well-funded (about €73,000 per month) reputation laundering campaign going on (in conjunction with union-busting with outside consultants), so we expected to see some myths making their way into the article. We hereby rebut several such myths, having researched this topic for many hundreds of hours (if not more than a thousand hours).



For completeness and for future reference we decided to make an HTML copy of the translation and highlight the curious (or relatively new) bits -- those that add crucial and/or new information. Our response is at the bottom.

European Patent Office: Conflict between Management and Staff rapidly coming to a Head



The European Patent Office has suspended the Staff Union leadership; now the situation threatens to escalate. The Office President has branded the staff representatives as "Mafia"; they speak of "institutional violence".

The atmosphere between the management cadre and the staff union at the European Patent Office (EPO) is getting more and more toxic. In the dispute over the efficiency drive by Office President, Benoît Battistelli, he has now launched a venomous flood of rhetoric on the international staff union of the institution (SUEPO) and challenged their legitimacy.

Atmosphere of Terror

Frenchman Battistelli is quoted by the online service “Politico” as insisting that the union is not a representative body but a “Mafia-like” organization. At the same time he refutes the allegation that he himself has created an “atmosphere of terror”. One member of staff had anonymously claimed that the staff felt they were being “squeezed like lemons”, which was affecting their health.

Over the past three and a quarter years, five of the around 7000 staff members have committed suicide, the last incident being in August. Suepo are insisting that the deaths should be independently investigated, in the light of the changed working conditions. Battistelli has been the chief executive of the Office since 2010.

An EPO spokesperson has complained to the WIPR service that, on a lower level, leading management and executive personnel have been increasingly confronted with “personal attacks”, excessive references in blogs and leaflets, and even “calls for violence”.

Cheap accusations

Of course, the union is not going to take this lying down. These “cheap accusations” are blatant inventions to arouse sympathy for the Office leadership, now that it is increasingly coming under closer scrutiny by the media. But it is not the managers who are the victims; on the contrary, it is they who are introducing “institutional violence”, in particular against those who have not declared themselves to be in agreement with “certain regulations”. Overall, this tactic is said to be being used to challenge the integrity and worth of honest employees, who have in no way deserved this.

Suepo has again called for a “peaceful demonstration” on Thursday at the Office headquarters in Munich. The protest is aimed in particular at the “sustained attacks” against staff representatives, which are said to have now reached a peak with the suspension and the initiation of disciplinary measures against the union executive.

Last Thursday, and the week before, according to figures from Suepo and the police, some 2000 staff members have already taken part in similar gatherings. The EPO union has support from colleagues at the Office for the Harmonization of the Internal Market (OHIM), the counterpart to the Patent Office in matters relating to Community trademarks. In a press release the staff representatives there expressed their “deep concern” about the situation at the EPO, which needs to be addressed urgently.

Fear of retribution

The Administrative Council of the Office is apparently now being approached, so that union officials can once again address the concerns of the staff members without fear of repercussions. The additional protection of their votes, which are critical to the issue, is said to be essential if an abuse of power is to be prevented. The EPO leadership is accusing the suspended Chair of the Union, Elizabeth Hardon, among other things, of having talked too much, and to have threatened and bullied Union members.

In the local (heise) online “Accusation letter”, the talk is of “sniper” methods, said to have been used against Hardon. As well as that, it seems evident that even the private E-mail accounts of the SUEPO executive have been monitored.

There had already been earlier complaints of a comparatively new “Investigation Unit” of the Office having used keyloggers and cameras and of having worked with somewhat murky service providers such as the British "Control Risk Group", to spy on staff members. Hardon herself refutes the accusations against her entirely, and has lodged an appeal with the EPO data protection supervisory authority.

Waving patents through in a rush

Battistelli has meanwhile lavished praise in a local (heise) online circular on the ongoing efforts by the employees, which he claims have led to increasing effectiveness and greater productivity. In concordance with the new performance-based assessment system, in 2015 a total of 18.4 million Euro was distributed by way of bonus payments to the workforce. This is said to be 20 percent more than in the previous year. Suepo contends that the remunerations are hardly an issue, and in any event are only a “perverse incentive” not to examine patent applications adequately and wave them through as rapidly as possible. (kbe)


Points that Techrights wishes to make very briefly about this article:

  1. It's not SUEPO that's "Mafia", Battistelli is merely projecting to give an illusion of parity (as if both sides are aggressive and subversive). This seems like the latest PR/media strategy as we're seeing it quite a lot these days.
  2. The incredibly cliquish Team Battistelli challenges the legitimacy of SUEPO simply because, by Battistelli's warped standards, opposition is neither warranted nor allowed. He is a spoiled brat from a rich people's school and it still shows. Contrast that with Alison Brimelow. What a spectacular difference!
  3. Team Battistelli has been trying to paint itself as preventer of suicides and blame such tragedies on SUEPO; what a nerve they have...
  4. The “calls for violence” which Team Battistelli speaks of are fictional. There is no evidence of them. We wrote several articles about this and it is conveniently related to point (1) above. Journalists oughtn't print such nonsense without fact-checking.
  5. The "sniper" narrative is a shameful personal attack, intended to bias or incite the reader of a poor (and otherwise very narrow/limited) set of accusations against Hardon
  6. With Control Risks Group in the mix, we urge people to encrypt or use Tor. Control Risks Group isn't just some ordinary company/firm; it's now a military-grade union busting-service (with reputation for that in Europe).
  7. SUEPO is right to suggest that patent applications are now being examined rather poorly. Staff is put under pressure to grant in bulk or otherwise risk losing the Christmas vacation


The last point suggests to us that the Team Battistelli-led EPO is gradually emulating the notorious USPTO (very deeply involved in and dominated by large corporations, with terrible grant rates).

"We wrote thousands of articles about the USPTO and we have great (and growing) fear that those same disasters (and patent predators) will reach Europe."This new blog post titled "Another depressing year for patent law?" says a lot about how practitioners in the US view the USPTO. Watch how this US patent lawyer, Lawrence B. Ebert, quoting Larry Downes as saying: "On just one day in November, for example, over 200 new patent lawsuits were filed, as plaintiffs rushed to beat a change in federal procedure that could require more specific claims. Most were from companies that buy up patents of dubious quality and use them to extract nuisance settlements from actual innovators."

Is this what Europe is hoping to achieve? We wrote thousands of articles about the USPTO and we have great (and growing) fear that those same disasters (and patent predators) will reach Europe. Some already do.

Recent Techrights' Posts

Granting Loads of Monopolies in Europe (to Foreign Corporations of Epic Size and Far Too Much Power Inside Europe) is Vastly More Important Than Raising European Kids Properly?
"Efficiency" first? Whose? Corporations or families? No wonder so many young families are hesitant to have any kids these days; that's particularly true in east Asia and also in north America, not just Europe
Techrights in the Coming Decade: The Free Speech (Online) Angle
Free speech is a fundamental tenet of a free society
Edward Brocklesby (ejb) & Debian: Hacking expulsion cover-up in proximity to Oxford and GCHQ
Reprinted with permission from Daniel Pocock
Microsoft Windows in Nicaragua: From 98% to Less Than 25%
Operating System Market Share Nicaragua
 
Twitter's Fall to Irrelevancy in Europe
Musk bought a dud
[Meme] 'Useless' Kids of EPO Examiners
malnourished?
[Meme] Putin's Red Flags
Firefox ESR or Firefox USSR
The Corporate/Mainstream Media and Even Social Control Media is Distorting the Record About What Mozilla Actually Did (It Originally Surrendered to Vladimir Putin)
Mozilla being avoided for purely technical reasons (sites not being compatible with it) is one thing. Foolishly, Mozilla is giving people more political reasons to also shun Mozilla. This is suicide.
GNU/Linux Up Some More This Morning, Windows Down Sharply Even in Rich Countries
Microsoft is in trouble in the Muslim world
United Arab Emirates (UAE) Rising... Towards 5% for ChromeOS and GNU/Linux
the latest numbers show it growing from about 0.1% to around 2.4% for GNU/Linux, plus 2.01% for Chromebooks (ChromeOS), i.e. about 5% in total.
Links 24/06/2024: New Research, New Attacks on Justices Sceptical of Patent Maximalists, European Commission for Copyright Maximalists
Links for the day
[Meme] 12 Years a Fedora Volunteer
IBM gives me a 'free' Fedora badge as recognition
IBM Slavery: Not a New Problem
When IBM got rid of Ben Cotton it showed the world how much it valued Fedora
Why They Want to Abolish Master/Slave Terminology (Because This is What They're Turned Free Software Into)
It used to be about community; GAFAM turned that into exploitation and worse
Roy and Rianne's Righteously Royalty-free RSS Reader (R.R.R.R.R.R.) Version 0.2 is Released
They say summer "officially" started some days ago
Torvalds' Number Two Quit Linux a Decade Ago and Has Since Then Earned an Honorary Doctorate
Revisiting Fuzix and Alan Cox
GNU/Linux Reaches All-Time High in Tunisia
Based on statCounter
Over at Tux Machines...
GNU/Linux news for the past day
IRC Proceedings: Sunday, June 23, 2024
IRC logs for Sunday, June 23, 2024
You Know the Microsoft Products Really Suck When...
"Qualcomm and Microsoft go 'beyond the call of duty' to stop independent Copilot+ PC reviews"
IBM and "Regime Change"
Change of regime is not the same as freedom
Techrights in the Coming Decade: The Community Angle
Somebody needs to call them out on their BS
Techrights in the Coming Decade: The Software Angle
Gemini Protocol has just turned 5 - i.e. roughly the same age as our Git repositories
Techrights in the Coming Decade: The Patent Angle
Next month marks 10 years since we began covering EPO leaks
Wookey, Intrigeri, Cryptie & Debian pseudonyms beyond Edward Brocklesby
Reprinted with permission from Daniel Pocock
[Meme] Choice Versus Freedom
So When Do I Start Having Freedom? Freedom is choice between the GAFAMs
Digital Liberation of Society at Times of Armed Conflicts and Uncertainty
We have technical contributions, not just written output
Links 23/06/2024: More Microsoft Cancellations, Growing Repression Worldwide
Links for the day
Gemini Links 23/06/2024: The Magician and the Hacker, tmux Tips
Links for the day
Links 23/06/2024: Twitter/X Wants Your Money, Google Reports a Billion DMCA Takedowns in Four Months
Links for the day
Digital Restrictions (Like DRM) Don't Have Brands, We Need to Teach People to Hate the Underlying Restrictions, Not Companies That Typically Come and Go
Conceptually, the hens should fear humans, not the farmer who cages them
Going Above 4% Again
Maybe 4% (or above) by month's end?
[Meme] Debian's 'Cannon Fodder' Economics
Conflicts of interest don't matter
Conviction, jail for Hinduja family, Debian exploitation comparison
Reprinted with permission from Daniel Pocock
According to Microsoft, It's Not a Code of Conduct Violation to Troll Your Victims Whose Files You Are Purging
The group of vandals from Microsoft think it's "funny" (and for a "nominal fee") to troll Microsoft critics
Microsoft Inside Debian is Sabotaging Debian and Its Many Hundreds of Derivatives With SystemD (Microsoft/GitHub Slopware With Catastrophic Bugs is Hardly a New Problem)
What is the moral of the story about The Scorpion and the Frog?
Links 23/06/2024: Hey Hi (AI) Scrapers Gone Very Rogue, Software Patents Squashed at EPO
Links for the day
Over at Tux Machines...
GNU/Linux news for the past day
IRC Proceedings: Saturday, June 22, 2024
IRC logs for Saturday, June 22, 2024
Gemini Links 23/06/2024: LoRaWAN and Gemini Plugin for KOReade
Links for the day
Links 22/06/2024: Chat Control Vote Postponed, More Economic Perils
Links for the day
[Meme/Photography] Photos From the Tux Machines Parties
took nearly a fortnight
Uzbekistan: GNU/Linux Ascent
Uzbekistan is almost the same size as France
SLAPP as an Own Goal
We have better things to with our limited time
Independence From Monopolies
"They were ethnically GAFAM anyway..."
GNU/Linux at New Highs (Again) in Taiwan
latest numbers
Links 22/06/2024: More Layoffs and Health Scares
Links for the day
Rwanda: Windows Falls Below 30%
For the first time since 2020 Windows is measured below 30%
[Meme] IBM Lost the Case Over "Dinobabies" (and People Died)
IBM agreed to pay to keep the details (and embarrassing evidence) secret; people never forgot what IBM called its staff that wasn't young, this keeps coming up in forums
Exactly One Year Ago RHEL Became Proprietary Operating System
Oh, you want the source code of RHEL? You need to pay me money and promise not to share with anyone
Dr. John Campbell on Gates Foundation
Published two days ago
Melinda Gates Did Not Trust Bill Gates, So Why Should You?
She left him because of his ties to child sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein
How Much IBM Really Cares About Software Freedom (Exactly One Year Ago IBM Turned RHEL Into Proprietary Software)
RHEL became proprietary software
Fedora Week of Diversity 2024 Was Powered by Proprietary Software
If instead of opening up to women and minorities we might open up to proprietary software, i.e. become less open
18 Countries in Europe Where Windows Fell Below 30% "Market Share"
Many people still use laptops with Windows, but they're outnumbered by mobile users on Android
[Meme] EPO Pensions in the UK
pensioners: looks like another EPO 'reform'
Over at Tux Machines...
GNU/Linux news for the past day
IRC Proceedings: Friday, June 21, 2024
IRC logs for Friday, June 21, 2024
During Fedora Week of Diversity (FWD) 2024 IBM and Its Subsidiaries Dragged to Court Over Discrimination at the Corporate Level
IBM is a deplorable, racist company
Workers of the European Patent Office Take the Office to Court Over Pension
pensions still precarious
Gemini Links 22/06/2024: FreeBSD vs XFCE and Gemini Bookmarks Syncing Solution
Links for the day