Bonum Certa Men Certa

The EPO Bundestagate -- Part 3: A “Minor Interpellation” in the German Bundestag

Series index:

  1. The EPO Bundestagate -- Part 1: How the Bundestag Was (and Continues to be) Misled About EPO Affairs
  2. The EPO Bundestagate -- Part 2: Lack of Parliamentary Oversight, Many Questions and Few Answers…
  3. You are here ☞ “Minor Interpellation” in the German Bundestag


German Bundestag
The EPO has been the subject of questions in the German Bundestag on a number of occasions between 2015 and 2020



Summary: The EPO scandals and blunders have been brought up in the German Bundestag in the days of Benoît Battistelli and António Campinos; but no adequate answers were offered

As mentioned in the last part, when it comes to EPO affairs German politicians have been far more timid and reticent compared to their Dutch counterparts.



In the EPO's main host state, politicians have - for the most part - preferred to refrain from getting involved in any scrutiny of the lucrative "Dukatenesel" with its headquarters in the Bavarian capital of Munich.

A rare exception to this general trend was found among the members of the "Freie Wähler" who took up cudgels on behalf of beleaguered EPO staff by filing motions in the Bavarian State Parliament ("Landtag").

These motions were consistently voted down by the majority CSU party which gave the impression of being hell-bent on protecting Battistelli and shielding his excesses from unwelcome public scrutiny in the home town of the EPO's headquarters.

"In the EPO's main host state, politicians have - for the most part - preferred to refrain from getting involved in any scrutiny of the lucrative "Dukatenesel" with its headquarters in the Bavarian capital of Munich."At a federal level there was never any significant effort in the German political arena to subject EPO affairs to parliamentary scrutiny.

A rare exception here was Jutta Krellmann of the socialist party "Die Linke" who asked a question in October 2015 following the publication of a report in heise.de about deteriorating working conditions at the EPO (Bundestag Printed Paper [PDF] no. 18/6301).

The response dated 8 October 2015 from the Secretary of State at the Federal Ministry for Justice, Christian Lange, was the usual kind of hand-waving waffle typically dished up on such occasions.

Lange's response was strong on pious platitudes such as "A good working atmosphere at the European Patent Office is a very important concern for the Federal Government". But it was lamentably weak in terms of meaningful substance.

Since Battistelli's departure from the EPO in June 2018, it seems that some other German politicians have finally mustered up the courage to ask some serious questions about the EPO.

In one of his occasional contributions to the Kluwer Patent Blog, published at the start of March 2020, the German patent attorney, Dr Thorsten Bausch, reported on one such parliamentary intervention by members of the liberal party, "Freie Demokratische Partei" (FDP).

At the end of January 2020, a group of representatives from the FDP (Bundestag Printed Paper [PDF] no. 19/17383) had submitted a minor interpellation ("Kleine Anfrage") containing a series of questions about the EPO and its activities.

"Rather than attempting any meaningful engagement with the substance of the matters raised by the FDP, the reaction of the government was to brush these awkward questions aside, citing reasons of “confidentiality”."According to the procedural rules of the Federal Parliament ("Bundestag"), at least five percent of the members of a parliamentary group are required in order to put questions to the government on a particular topic in written form. The questions are transmitted to the President of the Bundestag, who forwards them to the Federal Government, requesting that they be answered. Minor interpellations are answered by the government exclusively in written form.

Under points 4. and 6. of the FDP's "minor interpellation" reference was made to matters connected to the lack of effective data protection at the EPO (in translation):

4. Was the Government aware of the accusations published in the press that staff rights were being violated by surveillance and by labour law restrictions under the EPO’s previous management and what is its view thereon?


and

6. Was the Government aware of the accusation published in the press of employee surveillance by an internal investigation unit under the EPO’s previous management and what is its assessment thereon?


Dr Bausch concluded his article with the following remarks:

"Whether the representatives will get good (i.e. meaningful) answers back by the German Ministry of Justice, though, will remain to be seen. I would not hold my breath. But stay tuned, I will try to follow up on this. Transparency is important."


Dr Bausch's openly expressed scepticism about the likelihood of the FDP representatives being supplied with meaningful answers to their questions seems to have been entirely justified in view of the response of the German government dated 11 March 2020 (Bundestag Printed Paper [PDF] no. 19/17809).

Rather than attempting any meaningful engagement with the substance of the matters raised by the FDP, the reaction of the government was to brush these awkward questions aside, citing reasons of "confidentiality".

The relevant passage of the response reads as follows (in translation):

Questions 4 to 7 will be answered together. The questions relate to confidential disciplinary proceedings which the Federal Government will not comment on at present. This also applies to proceedings before the internal appeals committees.


Of course this is just pure and undiluted humbug.

"Unfortunately, there is no sign that Dr Bausch followed up on his declared intention to return to the topic. It would have been very interesting to read his comments on the response of the government to the FDP's interpellation. It is difficult to imagine that he would have had anything complimentary to say about the manner in which the matter was handled by the Federal Ministry of Justice."The existence of purportedly "confidential" disciplinary proceedings is no valid reason for refusing to enter into a discussion about the general principle of the use of covert surveillance measures. This is particularly so when such measures are deployed in the context of a deficient data protection framework which fails to provide adequate safeguards against abuse. It is very clear that discussion about the general principles governing such matters does not need to concern itself with the details of individual cases.

Unfortunately, there is no sign that Dr Bausch followed up on his declared intention to return to the topic. It would have been very interesting to read his comments on the response of the government to the FDP's interpellation. It is difficult to imagine that he would have had anything complimentary to say about the manner in which the matter was handled by the Federal Ministry of Justice.

This was not the only occasion on which the FDP made a well-intentioned but unfortunately unsuccessful attempt to subject the activities of the EPO to scrutiny in the Federal Parliament. In the next part, we will look at an earlier parliamentary interpellation by the FDP which was submitted in 2019.

Recent Techrights' Posts

Microsoft Lacks a Solid Strategic Plan Other Than Buying Its Own Stock (and Paying Staff in Shares)
Beware and be cautious of bubbles
Microsoft's Chatbot Strategy Resulted in Massive Losses, So Now It's Trying to Reinvent Itself as 'Hardware Company' (Once Again, Years After XBox, KIN, Windows Phone and Surface Failed Miserably)
revenues associated with Windows has fallen sharply
 
Microsoft's Pearls of Wisdom: Layoffs Are Growth
Microsoft boss: layoffs are "long-term growth."
[Meme] Hide the Bodies
hiding EPO's role in funding Lukashenko
Josef Kratochvíl and All the European Patent Organisation's Chiefs (at the Administrative Council Too) Notified That Over 1,000 Members of Staff Demand Action on Patent Quality and Compliance (Industry Too is Alarmed That Many Invalid Patents Get Granted)
Huge corruption
Debian trademark canceled
Debian trademark canceled
Links 23/02/2024: Feed Aggregator and 2 Years of Invasion, Alexei Navalny’s Mother Blackmailed
Links for the day
Gemini Links 23/02/2024: Getting 'Sick' of Modern Tech and Deletion of One's Reddit Account
Links for the day
Links 23/02/2024: 227 Microsoft Layoffs Noted in Santa Clara and Disaster in Rivian
Links for the day
IRC Proceedings: Thursday, February 22, 2024
IRC logs for Thursday, February 22, 2024
Over at Tux Machines...
GNU/Linux news for the past day
[Meme] It's NOT Your PC
losing control of hardware
Gemini Links 22/02/2024: Removing Radio Ads and Being Seen on the Internet
Links for the day
Mark Shuttleworth and the Question of Liability (Debian Volunteers He Pressured Before the Suicides)
Humanity for me
Mark Shuttleworth's (MS) Canonical Running Microsoft (MS) Ads, Mischaracterising Mass Surveillance as 'Confidential' (the Usual Lie)
The money talks, so the facts are absent
Ads as 'Articles'
Money buys perception manipulation (or reputation laundering) campaigns
Abraham Raji & Debian, DebConf kayak death: search abandoned, evading liability
Reprinted with permission from Daniel Pocock
Links 22/02/2024: Chatbots Failing 'Big Time' and More Condemnations Appear of Bill Gates
Links for the day
There May be Close to 100,000,000 Laptops and Desktops Running GNU/Linux Around the World in 2024
hard to track the number
Search Engine Market Share Worldwide Shows How Badly Microsoft's Chatbot Strategy (Hopes) and Vapourware Have Failed
Bing, which was marketed as the forefront "product" for chatbots (Microsoft paid the media a lot of money for hype campaigns), gained nothing at Google's expense
[Meme] Demoralising and Putting Down Your Staff
unproductive and dangerous approach
This Week's Letter to António Campinos About Mean-Spirited Line Managers at the European Patent Office (EPO)
Seems like a way to get rid of staff. Some will resign in anger.
Software in the Public Interest (SPI) & Debian obfuscated structure fooled suicide victim's family: the ultimate example of bad faith
Reprinted with permission from Daniel Pocock
Over at Tux Machines...
GNU/Linux news for the past day
IRC Proceedings: Wednesday, February 21, 2024
IRC logs for Wednesday, February 21, 2024
Gemini Links 22/02/2024: What We Pass On and HTTP Header Viewer
Links for the day
Manuel Estrada Sainz (ranty), Andres Garcia (ErConde) & Debian Deaths overworking
Reprinted with permission from Daniel Pocock
GNU/Linux Rising to 8% of Desktops/Laptops in Jordan?
what statCounter shows
[Meme] If Iraq Launches an Investigation Into How Microsoft Bought OpenAI Without Paying for It
fake "money" from Microsoft
Windows Has Fallen to 13% Market Share in Iraq (It was 100% Just 15 Years Ago), GNU/Linux Rose Sharply in Recent Years
In recent years Iraq was developing its own GNU/Linux distro
Springtime is Next, Here's What We Plan for March and April
This month and next month we expect to publish something unique about EPO abuses every day
Studying the Freedom of firefox-123.0.tar.bz2
The "F" in Firefox
Abraham Raji, Jens Schmalzing & debian-private cover-ups after deaths, accidents, suicides
Reprinted with permission from Daniel Pocock
Microsoft Bribes, Keeping Regulators at Bay
crime and corruption
[Meme] The Quotas Came From Above
EPO targets
EPO Talent Planning & Architecture is Another Attack on EPO Staff and the Central Staff Committee (CSC) Explains Why
ignore the flowery words
[Meme] Just Following Orders From "The Fu**ing President" António Campinos
Salary? OBEY!
Links 21/02/2024: China Working on West-less Tech Future, More Bounties on Patent Troll Leigh M. Rothschild (Which IBM et al Failed to Dismantle at the Root)
Links for the day
Links 21/02/2024: Encryption Backdoors Deemed Not Legal, Decentralised Web Under Attack
Links for the day
Games:Steam Audio as Free Software, Hazard Pay, ChipWits, and More
7 stories for today
Julian Assange, Wikileaks & Debian-private
Reprinted with permission from Daniel Pocock
Over at Tux Machines...
GNU/Linux news for the past day
IRC Proceedings: Tuesday, February 20, 2024
IRC logs for Tuesday, February 20, 2024
Links 21/02/2024: Microsoft Sued for Monopolistic Policies, More Layoffs Planned for Next Month
Links for the day