Bonum Certa Men Certa

Poor Journalism From Süddeutsche Zeitung Perpetuates the EPO Management's Lies

Irresponsible journalism, blindly trusts the words of Battistelli and his PR team

FTI and Süddeutsche Zeitung



Summary: One of the leading 'mainstream' sources which covers EPO matters, Süddeutsche Zeitung, gets many of the facts wrong and by doing so helps the PR strategy of Team Battistelli

TOMORROW'S EPO protest is justified for many different reasons. Several people sent us a translation of the Süddeutsche Zeitung article (we hadn't foreseen the possibility of several people doing so at the same time). Süddeutsche Zeitung covers the EPO affairs quite often. Examples (so far) included:





The following is the first translation we've received of the latest article. It's not a long article. "The article contains several errors," told us the translator, "for example that the third staff member will not be promoted for three years (in fact, she was downgraded) and that the union leader will appeal at an international Patent Court (appeals concerning employment at the EPO can only be filed at the Administrative Tribunal of the International Labour Organization ILO, not at a Patent Court).

"The reporter who wrote this article, Katja Riedel, has also written the other articles about the EPO that were published in the Süddeutsche Zeitung. She tends to repeat the statements of the EPO management in a rather unreflected manner, without questioning them and without gathering further background information."

Here is the translation:

Head of union dismissed



European Patent Office justifies dismissal with reputation-damaging campaign

Katja Riedel

On Friday, the ongoing conflict between parts of the workforce and the management of the European Patent Office headed by President Benoît Battistelli has reached a new level of escalation. Battistelli has decided to dismiss the head of the union Suepo and another union member. This was revealed in an internal letter, to which the Süddeutsche Zeitung has access to. A third staff member, who was also subjected to a disciplinary procedure conducted by the Office, will not be promoted for three years.

Battistelli and an officially appointed disciplinary committee, in which also staff representatives participated, considered as proven that the head of the union had participated in a defamatory campaign against the Office. She was also accused of having bullied other elected staff representatives. She has always denied this vehemently and, through her lawyers, claimed having been bullied herself for years. She is now going to ask the president to revise his decision. If this is not successful, she will file an appeal at an international Patent Court. This process usually takes years.

For almost two years a severe conflict has been going on at the European Patent Office, whose headquarters are located in Munich. Repeatedly, thousands of employees went to the streets to protest against the French [president] Battistelli. They complained that they were denied basic labor rights. The Office considers these protests to be part of a smear campaign against the Office’s management. Proceedings against a patent judge, a member of a Technical Board of Appeal, are still ongoing. According to an internal investigation report, he is said to be responsible for the smear campaign, supported by a small number of other people. He denies this vehemently. He said that he collected incriminating documents (that were found with him) out of personal interest. He is suspended. However, the institutional body which would have to agree on his dismissal has a different opinion about the available evidence than the Office’s management. For this reason, no decision has been taken so far about this matter.


Our translator was correct about the factual errors, which do reveal some misunderstanding or insufficient background (the author at Heise did not make such errors). The above also repeated some lies from the management -- lies that we wrote about and rebutted earlier today [1, 2].

"To avoid such embarrassments (Süddeutsche Zeitung's Katja Riedel in this case) we strongly urge journalists not to take anything from the EPO's mouth without a barrel of salt."This is not good journalism. The EPO's management and spokespeople cannot be trusted. To avoid such embarrassments (Süddeutsche Zeitung's Katja Riedel in this case) we strongly urge journalists not to take anything from the EPO's mouth without a barrel of salt. They have an appalling track record when it comes to truthful statements, they're pushy, and they're backed by professional liars (with a budget of nearly $1 million per year).

Another translation of the article in German was sent to us later.

"Here is a translation of the requested article published in the "Süddeutsche Zeitung", wrote this translator. "IMHO it is interesting to note that this short article contains substantial errors. In particular the head of the union will not challenge to decision in front of a "Internal Patent Court". This just doesn't make sense! The third staff member referred to in the Article is supposedly Malika Weaver. I haven't read the text of the sanctions against her but the assertion that the "third staff member will not be promoted in the next three years" seems at least ridiculous. Not being promoted in the next three years is, according to the new career system, commonplace for the average staff and therefore not a disciplinary measure. Is FTI alkso writing for the Süddeutsche Zeitung?"

Well, perhaps. FTI Consulting is already funneling EPO money into publications such as IAM 'magazine'. Anyway, here is the second translation:

January the 15th, 2016, 18:55

Dispute escalates

Dismissed union boss



European Patent Office justifies the expulsion with reputational campaign

By Katja Riedel

The ongoing conflict between parts of the workforce and the head of the European Patent Office, President Benoît Battistelli, has reached a new level of escalation on Friday. Battistelli has decided to dismiss the head of the union Suepo and another union member. This emerges from an internal letter, which we have at the Süddeutsche Zeitung. A third staff member, against whom the Office has also conducted a disciplinary procedure will, not get any promotion in the next three years.

Battistelli and an appointed disciplinary committee, in which also staff representatives supposedly have sat, considered it thus as proven, that the union boss had participated in a defamatory campaign against the Office. She was also accused that she had bullied other elected staff representatives. She has always denied this vehemently; she rose through her lawyers in turn allegations that she had been bullied for years. She now plans to ask the President to revise the decision. If this is not successful, she wants to sue with an internal Patent Court (TRANSLATOR'S NOTE: rather internal appeal committee). These procedures usually take years. For almost two years, a bitter conflict is raging around the European Patent Office, whose headquarters are located in Munich. Again and again thousands of employees went against Frenchman Battistelli on the road. They complained that they were denied basic labour rights. The Office alleges that the protests alone have the effect of a smear campaign against the Office management. There is a case still pending against a patent judge, member of the Technical Board of Appeal. According to an internal investigation report, he is said to have been masterminding said campaign with a few other people . He himself denies this vehemently. Incriminating documents that were found with him, should he have wanted to collected out of private interest. The man is suspended. The competent body which would have to agree with a dismissal, however, has a different view on the collected evidence. For this reason a decision is still pending.


Judging by this translation too, the facts aren't quite right. Was there any fact-checking at all? A rushed job perhaps? Either way, these aren't the facts. They're Battistelli's warped version of the 'truth' (reality distortion). Did someone pull Katja Riedel's strings? We've heard all sorts of stories about how the EPO's PR team manipulates journalists.

“The true hypocrite is the one who ceases to perceive his deception, the one who lies with sincerity.”

--Andre Gide

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