Bonum Certa Men Certa

EPO: Can the Staff Union of the European Patent Office (SUEPO) Still Save It?

As with most headlines that have question marks in them, the answer might be "no" (with caveats)

Summary: Genuine concerns about the slow process at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) and the lack of progress at ILO, which coincide with weakening of the unions and threat to jobs of patent examiners (leaving ordinary Europeans more vulnerable to meritless patent lawsuits)

WE are still on holiday (11,000KM from home), but we continue to receive new EPO leaks. Sooner or later we expect a lot of the ugliness to come out and be made public. But is this enough to save the EPO? Well, that depends on what "saving" means. Battistelli's policies are going to make a lot of staff redundant and also cause great pain to European businesses (especially the smaller ones, i.e. the vast majority).



"The motion to fire Battistelli," Petra Kramer wrote some days ago, "has been rejected, the motion evaluate the limits of immunity has been adopted."

If Battistelli lost his immunity, that might serve to bring some justice, but is it not too late? Time is running out.

As SUEPO noted, workers' bodies speak out about the European Court of Human Rights, but they never had any concrete/real leverage over Battistelli. He just ignores everyone who does not agree with him and if/when he can, he punishes too (firings, demotions, mental torture etc.). EPO has become like a consulate of Turkey in Bavaria, complete with its own sultan. Nominations for the Central Staff Committee closed about 5 days ago and only the brave 'dared' apply. No wonder...

"Two staff unions at the European Patent Agency," said one statement, "filed a complaint against the Netherlands with the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) for violation of article 6 ECHR in combination with articles 10, 11 and 13 of the Convention."

Another said: "The long-running conflict at the European Patent Office (EPO) over abuses of worker and trade union rights is now heading to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). SUEPO, the trade union at the EPO has filed a complaint against the Netherlands for failing to protect workers. The courts there ruled that Dutch law has no jurisdiction leaving the workers in a legal limbo. The workers have been supported by the FNV trade union and the matter has been taken up in the Dutch parliament."

There is also this new PDF in SUEPO's Web site, published several days ago to say:

Amsterdam 8 May 2017 – Today, two staff unions at the European Patent Agency, VEOB and SUEPO, filed a complaint against the Netherlands with the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) for violation of article 6 ECHR in combination with articles 10, 11 and 13 of the Convention.

The European Patent Organisation (EPO), which is located i.a. on Dutch territory, is infringing on the right of the unions to take collective action and to enter into collective negotiations. These are internationally recognized rights that are also guaranteed by article 10 (right to freedom of expression) and article 11 (right of freedom of assembly and association) of the ECHR. For years now, there has been a culture of intimidation by EPO-management that has severely affected the work environment. The EPO is making it impossible for the unions to effectively serve the interests of their members. Though an organization like the EPO ordinarily enjoys immunity from jurisdiction, this does not apply if the unions do not have an effective legal remedy through which to (internally) address the problems. According to standard ECtHR-case law, a national court can them assume jurisdiction.

In its judgment of 15 February 2015, the Appeals Court in The Hague held that the unions in and of themselves did not have an effective legal remedy within the EPO. The Appeals Court assumed jurisdiction and then ruled largely in favour of the unions. The EPO filed a cassation appeal, primarily in light of the dismissal of its immunity claim. The State of the Netherlands joined the cassation procedure as a party on the side of the EPO. In its judgment of 20 January 2017, the Supreme Court ruled that EPO enjoys immunity from jurisdiction after all. The consequence of this verdict for the unions is that they do not have a true legal remedy by which to address the violations of their ECHR-rights.

As state party to the Convention, the Netherlands is obliged to ensure that the ECHR is safeguarded on its territory. As this is impossible in the light of the Supreme Court judgment, the Netherlands is violating article 6 ECHR in combination with articles 10, 11 and 13 of the Convention.

The unions are represented by lawyer Liesbeth Zegveld.


There is some additional press coverage from what is typically a SUEPO-hostile site:

The Staff Union of the European Patent Office (SUEPO) has brought the Netherlands to the European Court of Human Rights amid rising tensions and alleged abuse at the EPO.

In a blog post on 9 May, SUEPO said that it previously sought protection from the Dutch courts in the form of an injunction to prevent the violation of EPO workers’ rights.

But the Supreme Court of the Netherlands upheld the EPO’s immunity, failing to “discharge their duty of care, thereby allowing a breach of fundamental rights on their soil and de facto condoning, if not endorsing, the EPO’s abuses”.


We have some new leaks coming and these ought to demonstrate not only why ECHR should take on the case but also why immunity must be removed and ILO be subjected to greater scrutiny. The deeper we look at this whole situation, the easier it becomes to see that ILO's Administrative Tribunal is part of the problem. It gives the illusion of access to justice -- something that it never delivers. ILO might as well tell the truth to Dutch authorities and ECHR; it has absolutely no control over labour rights at the EPO and at this stage, as a mater of urgency, immunity must be removed and Team Battistelli held accountable for very serious abuses, either as professionals or as civilians.

ECHR cases can take years to deal with (up to 3 years, their Web site states); that's longer than it will take for Battistelli to totally destroy the EPO, culminating in mass layoffs. We don't ever know what will be left of SUEPO and VEOB by that stage.

Recent Techrights' Posts

Bing Has Run Out of Time and Microsoft Might Dismantle It (Save a Financial Miracle)
How much more of investors' money is Microsoft willing to throw in the trash?
Microsoft is Dying in Africa
Based on the Central African Republic, which "is around the same size as France"
Microsoft Needs to be Banned From Contracts, Including Government Contracts, Not Just for Security Failings But for Criminal Negligence, Corruption, and Fatal Cover-ups
How many deaths will it take for Microsoft to face real, effective scrutiny rather than kid gloves treatment?
 
[Meme] Not Your Typical IRC Troll and Harasser
I say, let's punch nazis...
GNU/Linux's Journey in Qatar: From 0.1% to Over 3%
Windows is no longer an important contender there
Secret Contracts and Corpses
The media pretends it's just some generic "IT" issue, but it is not
Statement on Antisemitism in Our IRC Network and in Social Control Media
In an ideal world nobody would have to be banned from IRC
Gemini Links 14/06/2024: Ads vs. Content, Why Aliases Are Har
Links for the day
Vista 11 Has Fallen in Switzerland, a Country That is More Microsoft Friendly Than Most of Europe
GNU/Linux rose to its highest level there in almost half a decade
[Meme] Microsoft in Africa
Are you telling me Windows is now down to 1% 'market share' in some countries?
Management of the European Patent Office Misleads Staff on Views of the Office's Staff Committee
The EPO as a workplace very rapidly deteriorates
[Meme] Newer is Worse
"They say those are New Ways of Working (NWoW); New does not mean better, it is worse"
Links 14/06/2024: Violence, Famines, and Montana Has More Cows Than People
Links for the day
Microsoft Telecom Layoffs, Facebook Layoffs in Africa: A Month After Microsoft's Mass Layoffs in Lagos (Nigeria) Facebook/Meta Does the Same and Microsoft is Now Retreating and Quitting an Entire Sector! (Affirmed Networks and Metaswitch)
Disasters in the making for GAFAM. Money down the drain.
Papua New Guinea: GNU/Linux Growing, Windows Down Below 15%
it seems indisputable there's headway and momentum
"Planets" Cannot Replace Social Control Media, They're Very Much Akin to It (Censorship Hubs, Gatekeepers)
Don't be subjected to gaslighting; make your own OPML file
Topics That Truly Irritate and Consistently Infuriate the Microsofters (Whenever We Cover These)
Censoring uncomfortable information is a difficult activity that has its limits, even in Reddit
Honduras: Vista 11 Down, GNU/Linux Up
Valve sees GNU/Linux as bigger than Apple's MacOS
Over at Tux Machines...
GNU/Linux news for the past day
IRC Proceedings: Thursday, June 13, 2024
IRC logs for Thursday, June 13, 2024
LibrePlanet 2024 and the Lost Video/Audio of Talks
After the event was over someone informed us that due to technical issues they had lost (or failed to acquire) recordings of the talks
Choosing Between Options to Outsource to Evades the Best Solution (Self-Hosting)
Most users don't need this sort of complexity
IBM Layoffs at Kyndryl
This can soon spill over to Red Hat
Turkmenistan: GNU/Linux Leaps Past 5% This Month?
This is how statCounter sees it
Watch This Space
what matters most is not the volume or quantity of publications but their underlying depth and quality
Short Downtimes, Planned Maintenance
Hypervisor maintenance is planned
Links 13/06/2024: Ongoing Sharp Increases in Deaths, Mediterranean Diet Linked to 23% Lower Risk of Death in Women
Links for the day
Gemini Links 13/06/2024: Linuxing of the Dell Laptop and Deep Dive into the World of the OpenEarth Foundation
Links for the day
New Highs for Android in Haiti (Nearly 80%), Microsoft Windows at Only 4%
that's Android at another new high and very close to 80% (it now seems inevitable)
[Meme] How Stefano Maffulli (and Microsoft's Own OSI Insiders) Make Money
Milking what's left of the OSI by attacking its very mission - something that more people now recognise
Mobs Don't Get the Job Done (Mob Leaders Have Lost Credibility/Visibility, Job, or Both)
their demands weren't met
Montenegro: GNU/Linux "Proper" at Over 6%
Windows is down to record lows
Links 13/06/2024: Overpopulation Woes, Best Buy Lays Off More Employees
Links for the day
Nationwide Eventually Did Listen
Miles better than their original nonresponse
The Corruption of Open Source Initiative (OSI), a Front Group of Microsoft and GAFAM, Openwashing Proprietary Things and Even Plagiarism, GPL Violations
Stefano Maffulli (and Microsoft's staff that works with him) basically profits from anti-FOSS
In Malawi, Windows Down to 10%, GNU/Linux Growing
it's not a small country
[Meme] Featuritis
Newer is not always better
"AI" Tech Bubble
How much "hype quotient" does this whole "hey hi" (AI) thing have left in it?
Links 13/06/2024: Science, Politics, and Gemini
Links for the day
Over at Tux Machines...
GNU/Linux news for the past day
IRC Proceedings: Wednesday, June 12, 2024
IRC logs for Wednesday, June 12, 2024
Gemini Links 12/06/2024: The Rodent Revolution and Adding Twisty Puzzles
Links for the day
Links 12/06/2024: Ukraine War Updates and Many Patents Being Subjected to Squashing Bounties
Links for the day
Ireland Last to Report Election Results
Daniel Pocock's involvement in Australian politics goes back to his university days
Never Sleeps, Never Slumbers
We're going to try to improve not just in quantity but also in quality
[Meme] The Purpose of Life is to Find a Desk
dogs have desks
EPO Has Gotten So Bad That Workers Need to Ask to be Allocated a Desk (at Work)
Wow!!!! An “allocated workplace”!!
Tux Machines Parties Going Well Do Far
Cross-posted from Tux Machines
In Many Countries, Both Large and Small, Vista 11 is Losing Market Share (Despite New PCs Coming Preloaded With It)
One need not even consider large nations in isolation
By "Going Public" the Raspberry Pi Ensures It'll No Longer Serve the Public
It'll be owned and controlled by whatever people wish to control it
Dave Wreski Also Plays the Bot Game (Chatbot) at LinuxSecurity to Fake 'Articles' About "Linux"
How much longer can they fool search engines (SEO) and readers?
[Meme] Indisputable Success
MICROSOFT buys shares of MICROSOFT
Links 12/06/2024: 'Hey Hi' (AI) Bubble Imploding Already, Danish Media Threatens to Sue OpenAI
Links for the day
Links 11/06/2024: Floods in Germany and Brazil, Political Violence
Links for the day
Gemini Links 12/06/2024: Sketching Plants, OpenBSD Pubnix
Links for the day
"2025 the year of Linux on the Desktop"
Charlie Stross quote
In Bahrain, Historically Low on GNU/Linux Adoption, Things Change for the Better
They have some people who understand Free software
Daniel Pocock Received Twice as Many Votes as Andreas Tille (Debian Project Leader After 2024 Election)
From the media yesterday...
Debian is Built by Hundreds of Volunteers and 524 Irish People Voted for Daniel Pocock
524 in that area went to the polling station to vote Daniel Pocock (Ind)
[Meme] RMS is 'Too Old', Says Company Run by a Person 5 Years His Junior (Ginni Rometty) and 10 Years His Junior (Arvind Krishna)
Never again?
[Meme] Women in Computer Science
Grace Hopper, Ada Lovelace etc.
Over at Tux Machines...
GNU/Linux news for the past day
IRC Proceedings: Tuesday, June 11, 2024
IRC logs for Tuesday, June 11, 2024
Togo: GNU/Linux Growing Fast This Year, Now Measured at 6%
Sending Bill Gates with a suitcase to bribe African officials isn't enough anymore
Free Software Projects Need to Chase Away Men Who Attack Women Rather Than The Women Who Complain
A just society holds people accountable rather than covers up such blunders
Improving the Image of Women in Free Software by Hiring and Promoting the Proficient Ones
Million's shaman background isn't the problem, or even the superstitious ghost-chasing. The problem is that she has absolutely no background in Free software.
They Say Cash is King
People who value their freedom will pay with cash any time they can
'Team Microsoft' Wants to Leverage Our Popularity as a Weapon Against Us
In the past 2 days we published 64 articles and served over a million HTTP/S requests