12.06.15

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EPO “Synonymous With Psychological Depressions, Nervous Breakdowns, and Even Suicides”

Posted in Europe, Patents at 5:13 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Observador

Summary: Translation of a recent article from Observador (Portugal) about the latest serious altercations at the European Patent Office (EPO)

MEDIA coverage about the EPO has been rather negative recently, putting aside puff pieces from so-called ‘media partners’ and EPO-friendly sites like IAM ‘magazine’.

One article which we mentioned here last week was this one in Portuguese. SUEPO has just supplied a public translation and it goes as follows:

The shadowy world of the European Patent Organization

27/11/2015, 16:14

Suicides, psychological pressures, violent interrogations, favouritism, and irregularities. The shadowy world of the European Patent Organization needs to have some light cast on it.

“Suicides, psychological pressures, violent interrogations, favouritism, and irregularities.”Benoît Battistelli says that the accusations are a “defamation campaign”, but his name is starting to be associated with nervous breakdowns, suicides, and an atmosphere of intimidation.

“The last dictatorship in Europe”, “out of control”, “a State within a State”; this is how some sources are using the international social media to refer to the European Patent Organization (EPO). The institution is beginning to be synonymous with psychological depressions, nervous breakdowns, and even suicides. And there is one man now under fire – Benoît Battistelli.

“The institution is beginning to be synonymous with psychological depressions, nervous breakdowns, and even suicides.”The European Patent Organization (EPO) came into being under the auspices of the Munich Patent Convention in 1973, with the mission of granting patents to the members of the European Union and a number of other European countries (Switzerland, Norway, Turkey, Albania, and Serbia), and since 2010 it has been presided over by Frenchman Benoît Battistelli.

The President, according to the statutes of the EPO, has wide-sweeping powers, and the sole legal supervision is the Administrative Council, represented by the 38 Member States.

Operating under its own laws and regulations, the EPO has main offices in Munich, The Hague, Berlin, and Vienna.

“According to the same Spanish journal, there are accusations, based on official documents, that tell of big corporations being given preference when it comes to patent examination procedures.”In Munich recently two thousand people gathered to protest against the presidency of Frenchman Battistelli over the organization. Such a shadowy arrangement is unique in this day and age. According to Florian Mueller, a specialist in this field, quoted by El Confidencial, the stories and information which are starting to come to light “are unthinkable anywhere in the civilized world – but the European Patent Organization simply is not part of the civilized world’. These harsh words by the German expert refer to the alleged atmosphere at work shared by the some 7 thousand employees at the EPO. The staff unions have condemned the situation, pointing out that in the past few years at least five people have committed suicide (in 2013, one official threw himself out of a window at the office in The Hague), and many others are suffering intense psychological pressure, with the result that patents are being granted without the technical quality being properly assessed.

And there’s more than just the atmosphere at work which is at issue. According to the same Spanish journal, there are accusations, based on official documents, that tell of big corporations being given preference when it comes to patent examination procedures. The staff themselves, on taking to the streets, accuse the President of favouritism and irregularities. Some sources also imply that what interests him is productivity, and invalidating the patents afterwards.

“One had suffered a major nervous collapse, and the other, for similar reasons, had to be admitted to the hospital.”But things may be closing in on Battistelli. SUEPO, which is the union which represents the employees of the Organization, claims that on 13 November last, Spaniard Jesús Areso and Frenchman Laurent Prunier, both employees of the institution, were forced by the President to give evidence at the office at The Hague before the EPO Investigations Unit. The union speaks of an atmosphere of intimidation, and has revealed that the two officials had to be taken to hospital. One had suffered a major nervous collapse, and the other, for similar reasons, had to be admitted to the hospital.

In the light of all this, some officials have resigned from their positions, and others have made claims before the courts that they are suffering persecution, according to El Confidencial. The situation has already led to a reaction on the part of Socialist Pierre-Yves Le Borgn’, parliamentary deputy for French citizens abroad since 2012, who is demanding explanations from the EPO President. Le Borgn’ has also sent an official communication to the French Minister of the Economy, Emmanuel, describing the repression and calling on him to take action. The communication condemns the harsh interrogation methods, which left the officials in a “state of shock”, requiring medical treatment, and he has called on the other Member States to join him in condemning the situation.

In defence of Benoît Battistelli

In response to such serious charges, the EPO boss has publicly rejected the accusations. The Minister of the Economy has received another letter, this time from Battistelli, accusing the staff of orchestrating a “campaign of defamation” against him personally. And the President has taken this opportunity to launch his own accusations. The Frenchman refers to one former official of the Organization who was suspended from duty for leaking confidential documents and having been found with weapons and Nazi propaganda in his office.

The truth is that the name of Benoît Battistelli has already begun to appear in the newspapers, and the matter is starting to create interests among a number of members of the European Parliament.

There is nothing particularly new in this article, but thanks to SUEPO we now have another detailed article in English. This helps raise awareness of the severity of this situation.

“Children seldom misquote you. In fact, they usually repeat word for word what you shouldn`t have said.”

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