04.29.15

Gemini version available ♊︎

As Core Issues Still Not Addressed, Another Protest Against EPO Management Scheduled for Tomorrow in Munich, Germany

Posted in Europe, Patents at 9:14 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

EPO protest

Summary: On Thursday (tomorrow) yet another demonstration is organised in Munich, less than a week ahead of the UPC decision (May 5th)

The EPO’s corrupt management is not off the hook. No solution has been reached. Last week we wrote about the EPO's management which was trying hard to appease its critics ahead of May 5th. We did wonder why so much momentum had been lost when it comes to opposition, but as it turns out, based on this announcement [PDF], staff will march to the Dutch embassy tomorrow, knowing that Dutch politicians are already aware of the issues and may take serious action (among other reasons, including the role of the Dutch branch and the court at the Hague). This was only announced two days ago (far shorter a notice than before), which limits Battistelli’s ability to threaten staff which ‘dares’ to exercise the right to protest. Here is another take on it.

“I don’t know if you went on this webpage lately,” wrote someone to us, “but some other articles than the one from “Le Monde” concerning the office are available [...] some translated [into] English.”

El Pais (the Spanish newspaper) wrote about it [PDF] and so did Ingeniøren (Danish website), which published a piece [PDF]. “An article about the French management in France Telecom,” says our source, “a case more and more similar to the EPO,” was published here [PDF] by SUEPO.

Here is the English translation of the article from El Pais:

The “Happy Office” goes on strike

Staff at the EPO, the European patent authority, which employs 7,000 people, is declaring war on its President after 40 years of happy existence

Miguel Ángel Noceda Madrid 19 APR 2015 – 00:10 CEST

It is the authority on which all the patents of European companies depend. More than 7,000 people work there, highly qualified people from a range of European nationalities, making it the second biggest inter-governmental employer in Europe. It is almost 40 years old, and its employees have passed that time in a calm and peaceful organization, with the assurance of support from staff who are well paid and enjoy enviable conditions.

But it is an organization which is also little known. This is the European Patent Office, the EPO, and behind this happy façade a crisis is brewing which is putting the employees on a war footing, due to the “dictatorial attitudes” of the President, Frenchman Benoit Battistelli, with the consent of the Board of Administration, which represents 38 European states (those of the EU plus others not in the Community).

The EPO was founded in 1977 by way of the European Patent Convention. Its tasks consist of examining the applications, which, if granted, come to be known as “European Patents”. Headquarters are in Munich, although there are also three outposts, in The Hague, Berlin, and Vienna. It is the second largest body in Europe, in terms of budget and number of employees, after the Commission in Brussels. The Office, which in 2014 dealt with 274,000 applications, is financed by the income from the patents.

It benefits from extraterritorial status, which allows it to make its own rules when it comes to taxes, social security, and pension schemes. It does this with the International Labour Organization (ILO) as supervisor. In other words, it’s a happy world, where the employees earn an average of 5,000 Euros, and have medical and family benefits into the bargain.

But in the view of the majority union Suepo (acronym for the Staff Union of the European Patent Office), to which 50% of the workforce are affiliated, this whole world could come crashing down thanks to the decision adopted by Battistelli, a long-standing French official aged 64, and graduate of the prestigious National School of Administration (École Nationale d’Administration – ENA), who came into office in 2010 and was ratified last year for another mandate period.

Suepo have denounced Battistelli for cutting back the employment rights of the staff members, abusing the judicial immunity which the organization enjoys, and having created a stifling and intolerable environment. According to the employees, who have raised the issue before the courts by way of French attorneys William Bourdon and the Spanish Ledesma y Asociados, Battistelli has at no time consulted the representatives of the personnel when it came to putting his reforms into effect. And they also accuse him of taking reprisals.

The union accuses Battistelli of having changed the rules, and of having made it “impossible” for a decision to be reached internally. The list of accusations which has accumulated during his time in office is a long one, and significant: Refusal to recognize the union representatives as the legitimate representatives of the staff, and proposals for changes in the structure of employee representation; installation of filters to block internal E-mails; censorship of internal publications; introduction of rules whereby an employee can be investigated without the need for them to be advised of this beforehand; change in the rules for calling strikes, in such a way that this now requires a petition to the President signed by at least 10% of the workforce, and a minimum participation of 40% in order to be quorate.

As well as this, the unions accuse of Battistelli of not having allowed an investigation into the causes of the suicide of an employee at his place of work, and of isolating the members of the staff who have suggested that the management bear responsibility in this suicide. And they add that he has systematically refused to follow the recommendations of the Internal Complaints Committee.

In the light of all this, they are petitioning the European Commission, which already holds a majority of representation on the Administrative Council, such that, “if they wish to take seriously the use and promotion of the Unitary Patent”, a policy be instituted which will be sufficient to settle the conflict “by means of the introduction of policies of consultation and negotiation, and not of repression and intimidation”.

Here is the English translation of the article from Ingeniøren:

EPO: the image’s feet of clay are crumbling

By George Brock-Nannestad 10 Feb 10:46

IDA chairperson Frida Frost came to the following conclusion about the future Patent Court in Ingeniøren on 12 May 2014, before the referendum:

“… And of course small businesses must safeguard their inventions with a patent. There is no reason to stand idly by, waiting to see what will happen in practice under the new collaborative system. Conversely, it makes complete sense to enter into the unitary patent on a level playing field and to be able to influence collaboration as much as possible to optimise this. Not least for the sake of small businesses.”

The way things look at the moment, small businesses in particular will suffer hugely in the slightly longer term because the foundations of the unitary patent and the Patent Court are rotting away.

Right now there is a very unfortunate development at the only subcontractor of unitary patents, i.e. the European Patent Office EPO. Up until now, this development has been the concern of specialists: patent attorneys and judges, as well as case handlers – the highly educated patent specialists who work at the EPO. In recent months, they have been so frustrated about the consistent erosion of their ability to do a good job that they have been out demonstrating in Munich, where the EPO has its headquarters. The most recent demonstrations ended at the Danish consulate in Munich, because the president of the EPO’s Administrative Council, the highest responsible authority, is a Dane.

I cannot at this juncture provide a course on patents with a view to explaining in depth where the problems lie, but I can cite some principles. There are a few blogs online where discussions are ongoing, and the most professional one is http://ipkitten.blogspot.dk. Try a Google search of <"administrative council" ipkitten>.

As stated, there are two independent problems which will have the combined effect of degrading legal certainty.

One problem is inherent in the actual basis from 1973 and 2000, the European Patent Convention (EPC). All countries have a Board of Appeal associated with the patent system – in Denmark, it is Ankenævnet for Patenter og Varemærker (the Patents and Trade Marks Appeal Board). Anyone who is dissatisfied has two instances to approach. However, if the EPO rejects a European patent application, that leaves only one independent instance, i.e. the Board of Appeal. That is the “asymmetry flaw” when it comes to the EPC.

The EPC emphasises that the Board of Appeal should be like a court, independent of the administration, precisely because it has to determine whether the administration is in error. And, if anyone is unhappy about the Board of Appeal having upheld the approval of the European patent application, then in each country where it has been validated, it is possible to conduct an opposition proceeding against the now national patent. Once the Patent Court is up and running, it will be possible to conduct an opposition proceeding there, and thus impact all Member States in one go. In other words, an error at the Board of Appeal is not the last word when it comes to approved patent applications.

For more than a year, the Administrative Council of the EPO, at the instigation of the president (actually outside his remit), has been making plans to subjugate the Board of Appeal directly to the management of the EPO. Going forward, the EPO Service Regulation will also be applicable to the Board of Appeal. The Service Regulation places fixed constraints on staff conduct, and the extension of appointment of Board of Appeal members and any promotions will now become contingent on performance. This has led to strong protests from judges at courts and patent courts throughout Europe. They are frankly appalled that it is possible to force through suspension of the independence of the Board of Appeal.

There will no longer be even one independent instance for a company that fails to get its European application approved. That amounts to serious prejudicing of rights!

The other problem is that the case handlers are being given less and less time to process cases because they are required to meet purely arbitrary production targets to make savings for the EPO. Those savings will not result in lower charges. It could be said that, going forward, case processing will become rather perfunctory. In other words, neither the applicant nor any competitors will be able to assess whether any right granted will be fit for purpose or something to be wary of. The case processors, who are specialists in their field, have used every means at their disposal to protest about this.

It is now being suggested quite seriously in professional patent advisory circles that clients should be advised to avoid the EPO (and thus the unitary patent) entirely and apply nationally, the way things were done long ago, before 1978. Things have become much easier today, partly because many countries now accept submissions in English, which in some countries then have to be translated into the local language by a later deadline. But that is tantamount to declaring the bankruptcy of a system that has had so much invested in it since 1978.

The entire EPO system is now run by a group of self-perpetuating, incestuous officials who are far more adept at manipulating the system than politicians imagined. Unfortunately, the president of the Administrative Council is a Dane who, back in the day, arrived with great words about setting up pan-European collaboration in order to reduce the bulge of applications, whereby some of the case processing for European patent applications would be done by the national patent authorities as external suppliers. It really makes you wonder why he has moved from this open policy to an extremely closed one, complicit in the president’s manipulation.

A subcommittee of the Administrative Council, known as Board 28, will be presenting a proposal on Wednesday regarding the future administration of the EPO, and the Administrative Council itself will adopt this at an actual Administrative Council meeting in March. There are no channels for arriving at a dialogue or for influencing the Administrative Council, except if the ministers with responsibility in the individual Member States take the matter up. Unfortunately, however, the five-yearly ministerial meetings prescribed by the EPC have never taken place! And the planned diplomatic conference, designed to modify the EPC in line with lessons learnt from how it has been working up until now, has been taken off the table.

Why should users have the wool pulled over their eyes? Why should the European patent system of the future be degraded?

“Among the some interesting blogs and websites,” said our source to us, there is this item from the pro-patents site IAM. It says that “transparency and independent oversight look unattractive for many that work inside IP’s major institutions. Such reactions are understandable among people who, like most inside the IP world, entered the field when it had a very different, much lower profile. Nevertheless, I am afraid, that’s the way it has to be. We cannot hold off on doing the right thing because it discomfits certain people and interests. IP is too important for that.”

The problem is not only transparency, there are much more severe and far worse problems than that. Staff of the EPO is not going on strikes and protests because of lack of transparency. That’s just a convenient straw man of EPO apologists.

Share in other sites/networks: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Reddit
  • email

Decor ᶃ Gemini Space

Below is a Web proxy. We recommend getting a Gemini client/browser.

Black/white/grey bullet button This post is also available in Gemini over at this address (requires a Gemini client/browser to open).

Decor ✐ Cross-references

Black/white/grey bullet button Pages that cross-reference this one, if any exist, are listed below or will be listed below over time.

Decor ▢ Respond and Discuss

Black/white/grey bullet button If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

DecorWhat Else is New


  1. IRC Proceedings: Thursday, December 02, 2021

    IRC logs for Thursday, December 02, 2021



  2. Links 3/12/2021: Nitrux 1.7.1 and Xen 4.16 Released

    Links for the day



  3. Links 2/12/2021: OpenSUSE Leap 15.4 Alpha, Qt Creator 6

    Links for the day



  4. The EPO's “Gender Awareness Report”

    There’s a new document with remarks by the EPO’s staff representatives and it concerns opportunities for women at the EPO — a longstanding issue



  5. IRC Proceedings: Wednesday, December 01, 2021

    IRC logs for Wednesday, December 01, 2021



  6. EPO Staff Committee Compares the Tactics of António Campinos to Benoît Battistelli's

    The Central Staff Committee (CSC) of the EPO talks about EPO President António Campinos, arguing that “he seems to subscribe to the Manichean view, introduced by Mr Battistelli…”



  7. Prof. Thomas Jaeger in GRUR: Unified Patent Court (UPC) “Incompatible With EU Law“

    The truth remains unquestionable and the law remains unchanged; Team UPC is living in another universe, unable to accept that what it is scheming will inevitably face high-level legal challenges (shall that become necessary) and it will lose because the facts are all still the same



  8. Links 1/12/2021: LibrePlanet CFS Extended to December 15th and DB Comparer for PostgreSQL Reaches 5.0

    Links for the day



  9. EPO Cannot and Will Not Self-Regulate

    The term financialisation helps describe some of the activities of the EPO in recent years; see Wikipedia on financialisation below



  10. [Meme] Germany's Licence to Break the Law

    Remember that the young Campinos asked dad for his immunity after he had gotten drunk and crashed the car; maybe the EPO should stop giving diplomatic immunity to people, seeing what criminals (e.g. Benoît Battistelli) this attracts; the German government is destroying its image (and the EU’s) by fostering such corruption, wrongly believing that it’s worth it because of Eurozone domination for patents/litigation



  11. EPO Dislikes Science and Scientists

    The EPO's management has become like a corrupt political party with blind faith in money and monopolies (or monopoly money); it has lost sight of its original goals and at this moment it serves to exacerbate an awful pandemic, as the video above explains



  12. Links 1/12/2021: LibreOffice 7.3 Beta, Krita 5.0, Julia 1.7

    Links for the day



  13. Links 1/12/2021: NixOS 21.11 Released

    Links for the day



  14. IRC Proceedings: Tuesday, November 30, 2021

    IRC logs for Tuesday, November 30, 2021



  15. Links 1/12/2021: Tux Paint 0.9.27 and WordPress 5.9 Beta

    Links for the day



  16. [Meme] EPO Administrative Council Believing EPO-Bribed 'Media' (IAM Still Shilling and Lying for Cash)

    IAM continues to do what brings money from EPO management and Team UPC, never mind if it is being disputed by the patent examiners themselves



  17. The EPO's Mythical “Gap” Has Been Found and It's Bonuses for People Who Use Pure Fiction to Steal From Patent Examiners

    The phony president who has the audacity to claim there's a budget gap is issuing millions of euros for his enablers to enjoy; weeks ahead of the next meeting of national delegates the Central Staff Committee (CSC) tells them: "Events show that the delegations’ concerns about functional allowances have materialised. The lack of transparency and inflation of the budget envelope gives rise to the suspicion that high management is pursuing a policy of self-service at the expense of EPO staff, which is difficult to reconcile with the Office’s claimed cost-saving policy, and to the detriment of the whole Organisation."



  18. Video: Making the Internet a Better Place for People, Not Megacorporations

    Following that earlier list of suggested improvements for a freedom-respecting Internet, here's a video and outline



  19. Links 30/11/2021: KDE Plasma 5.23.4, 4MLinux 38.0, Long GitHub Downtime, and Microsoft's CEO Selling Away Shares

    Links for the day



  20. A Concise Manifesto For Freedom-Respecting Internet

    An informal list of considerations to make when reshaping the Internet to better serve people, not a few corporations that are mostly military contractors subsidised by the American taxpayers



  21. Freenode.net Becomes a 'Reddit Clone' and Freenode IRC is Back to Old Configurations After Flushing Down Decades' Worth of User/Channel Data and Locking/Shutting Out Longtime Users

    Freenode is having another go; after “chits” and “jobs” (among many other ideas) have clearly failed, and following the change of daemon (resulting in massive loss of data and even security issues associated with impersonation) as well as pointless rebrand as “Joseon”, the domain Freenode.net becomes something completely different and the IRC network reopens to all



  22. Jack Dorsey's Decision is a Wake-up Call: Social Control Media is Just a Toxic Bubble

    The state of the World Wide Web (reliability, preservation, accessibility, compatibility etc.) was worsened a lot more than a decade ago; with social control media that’s nowadays just a pile of JavaScript programs we’re basically seeing the Web gradually turning into another Adobe Flash (but this time they tell us it’s a “standard”), exacerbating an already-oversized ‘bubble economy’ where companies operate at a loss while claiming to be worth hundreds of billions (USD) and generally serve imperialistic objectives by means of manipulation like surveillance, selective curation, and censorship



  23. IRC Proceedings: Monday, November 29, 2021

    IRC logs for Monday, November 29, 2021



  24. Links 29/11/2021: NuTyX 21.10.5 and CrossOver 21.1.0

    Links for the day



  25. This Apt Has Super Dumbass Powers. Linus Sebastian and Pop_OS!

    Guest post by Ryan, reprinted with permission



  26. [Meme] Trying to Appease Provocateurs and Borderline Trolls

    GNU/Linux isn’t just a clone of Microsoft Windows and it oughtn’t be a clone of Microsoft Windows, either; some people set themselves up for failure, maybe by intention



  27. Centralised Git Hosting Has a Business Model Which is Hostile Towards Developers' Interests (in Microsoft's Case, It's an Attack on Reciprocal Licensing and Persistent Manipulation)

    Spying, censoring, and abusing projects/developers/users are among the perks Microsoft found in GitHub; the E.E.E.-styled takeover is being misused for perception manipulation and even racism, so projects really need to take control of their hosting (outsourcing is risky and very expensive in the long run)



  28. Links 29/11/2021: FWUPD's 'Best Known Configuration' and Glimpse at OpenZFS 3.0

    Links for the day



  29. President Biden Wants to Put Microsofter in Charge of the Patent Office, Soon to Penalise Patent Applicants Who Don't Use Microsoft's Proprietary Formats

    The tradition of GAFAM or GIAFAM inside the USPTO carries on (e.g. Kappos and Lee; Kappos lobbies for Microsoft and IBM, whereas Lee now works for Amazon/Bezos after a career at Google); it's hard to believe anymore that the USPTO exists to serve innovators rather than aggressive monopolists, shielding their territory by patent threats (lawsuits or worse aggression) and cross-licensing that's akin to a cartel



  30. Microsoft GitHub Exposé — Part VIII — Mr. Graveley's Long Career Serving Microsoft's Agenda (Before Hiring by Microsoft to Work on GitHub's GPL Violations Machine)

    Balabhadra (Alex) Graveley was promoting .NET (or Mono) since his young days; his current job at Microsoft is consistent with past harms to GNU/Linux, basically pushing undesirable (except to Microsoft) things to GNU/Linux users; Tomboy used to be the main reason for distro ISOs to include Mono


RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

Recent Posts