12.13.16

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EPO Staff: Mr. Battistelli is Causing Immeasurable Damage to the Office; He is Now Untenable

Posted in Europe, Patents at 10:10 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: A letter of appeal for delegations (of the Administrative Council) to fire Battistelli this week, and to generally put an end to his terrible regime, then undo all the damage caused by him and his friends

THE following letter is currently being disseminated ahead of tomorrow’s meeting and tomorrow’s staff protest. We decided to publish it because it does a good job at explaining how severe the problem has become.

Open letter – by email to the Heads of Delegation

Copies to: Competent Ministries of the Member States

13 December 2016

EPO-FLIER team
epoflier@runbox.com

Request to the Delegations of the Administrative Council to take firm action

Dear Heads and Members of the Delegations to the Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation, dear Chairman,

Most EPO staff welcomed the constructive interventions of numerous delegations during the last Administrative Council (AC) meeting1 and their expressed will to apply the Council’s March resolution2. Staff also recognises the attempts of some high ranking national politicians of major contracting states3,4 to convince the President to accept the AC’s resolution. But the crisis caused by the current Administration has not been resolved:

The dismissal of Laurent Prunier, which violates the resolution, was commented by IAM as follows: “The impression given by recent events is not one of firm, balanced management, but of management by intimidation. That is no way to run a patent office.”5

ILO judgment 3785 confirmed that EPO staff is currently left without a functioning first instance for fair legal redress6,7,8 and, due to several dismissals of and continued attacks on Staff Committee members, without any meaningful staff representation. Staff members under pressure from the HR department or their line manager are left without help. The situation can (again) become untenable for individual staff members (including suicide risk9). We are told that other elected staff representatives (i.e. SUEPO officials) are soon to be sanctioned and possibly fired.

The President’s proposal CA/106/16 to revise Article 36(2)(a) Serv Regs in reaction to ILO judgment 3785 shows once more Mr Battistelli’s disrespect for the law and the rights of citizens working for the EPO: “Battistelli’s response to the ILO’s damning decision is to simply change the EPO’s rules to formally give him the power to do exactly what he was being criticized over.”10 It is clear, however, that the judgment gives guidance on the principles of an internal appeals committee. Any solution that Mr Battistelli proposes must be true to those principles, and notably, include the nomination of members by the Staff Committee, without which, according to the ILO-AT, “it is not an appeals committee.”

Moving now to DG311, the President’s interference with the Boards of Appeal has been commented as follows:

“I am afraid (and very sorry) to say that even among the EPO’s top officials, the principle of the Rule of Law does not seem to be respected very much. Where are you, Administrative Council?”12

The president’s disrespect for the rights of others extends to the rights and legitimate expectations of the users of the patent system. As we pointed out earlier, management by intimidation leads to negative effects on the legal validity of granted European patents.13 While, according to the recent PWC study, 80 % of the personnel want to contribute to a successful mission of the EPO, which is to foster innovation, competitiveness and economic growth all over Europe by providing high quality services based on the European Patent Convention, are only 25 % of the opinion that the strategic objectives of the Office support this mission.1 Many of our colleagues share the concerns expressed by the CSC during the last Council meeting: “We want to know where we are going, and whether the EPO is still an employer worth working for.”1

Concerned observers have started realising that it is futile to hope that Mr Battistelli might change his attitude.14 Several national MPs4,15,16,17, senators18,19 and MEPs20 have (repeatedly) reminded (their) governments of their duty of care. Some of them take the view that Mr Battistelli needs to go before the situation can improve.4,14,17 A debate in the Dutch parliament is preparation.15 We urge the Delegations to accept their responsibility for the current situation and to take firm action so that the Office can return to being a place where motivated staff contribute to the success of Europe.

We therefore reiterate the request of our June 2016 open letter13: It is time for the Members of the AC to act: Mr Battistelli is causing immeasurable damage to the Office; he is now untenable.

Trust in the European patent system has been seriously eroded. Before trust can be rebuilt, the architect of the crisis in which the office finds itself needs to be removed, or alternatively, to be suspended until the end of his term.

“Il n’est plus raisonnable d’attendre.”15

With our best regards,

The EPO-FLIER team

a group of concerned staff of the EPO who wish to remain anonymous due to the prevailing harsh social climate and absence of rule of law at the European Patent Office


1 Central Staff Committee (CSC) report about the 149 th meeting of the AC (sc16207cp)

http://techrights.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/Minutes-of-October-2016-AC.pdf

2 http://www.epo.org/about-us/organisation/communiques.html#a23
3 https://www.nrc.nl/nieuws/2016/03/16/president-europees-octrooibureau-stapt-boos-op-bij-staatssecretaris-van-dam-a1408569
4 Secretary of state Christophe Sirugue’s response to Philip Cordéry’s question: “Nous continuons bien évidemment à faire pression, avec d’autres, pour que soient entendues les causes que je crois justes des salariés que vous avez évoqués. Je dois reconnaître que nous manquons d’alliés dans ce dossier, mais soyez sûrs de notre détermination à faire respecter les droits des salariés !”

http://philipcordery.fr/2016/11/question-gouvernement-situation-sociale-a-loffice-europeen-brevets/

5 EPO users and staff need the Administrative Council to get a grip on current events

http://www.iam-media.com/Blog/Detail.aspx?g=85178c62-24df-403f-990d-f3f5f5c4ce51

6 http://www.ilo.org/dyn/triblex/triblexmain.detail?p_judgment_no=3785
7 http://www.ip-watch.org/2016/12/01/ilo-decisions-said-confirm-epo-staff-lack-fair-legal-system/
8 http://www.worldipreview.com/news/un-agency-sets-aside-two-epo-decisions-criticises-administrative-council-12687
9 http://www.politico.eu/article/labor-relations-turn-toxic-in-the-european-patent-office/
10 http://www.theregister.co.uk/2016/12/08/battistelli_to_fix_epo_by_getting_more_power/
11 Proposal CA/82/16, concerning the removal of DG3 to Haar, is likely to create problems rather than solving any: https://ipkitten.blogspot.nl/2016/11/time-for-haar-cut-please-do-not.html
12 The Rule of Law (Rechtsstaat) is Endangered and Needs to be Defended!

http://kluwerpatentblog.com/2016/11/07/rule-law-rechtsstaat-endangered-needs-defended/

13 https://regmedia.co.uk/2016/06/22/epo-open-letter.pdf
14 https://ipkitten.blogspot.fr/2016/11/firings-will-continue-until-morale.html
15 Jean-Yves LECONTE, Situation à l’Office Européen des Brevets : il n’est plus raisonnable d’attendre
http://www.jyleconte.fr/ (Archives, October 2016)
16 http://kluwerpatentblog.com/2016/11/19/debate-in-dutch-parliament-about-deteriorating-social-climate-at-european-patent-office/
17 https://susann-biedefeld.de/meldungen/mdl-susann-biedefeld-kritisiert-verhalten-des-europaeischen-patentamts-gegenueber-arbeitnehmerinnnen-und-arbeitnehmern-aufs-schaerfste/
18 http://claudinelepage.eu/?p=16041 (Archives, November 2016, February 2016), English translations:
https://suepo.org/public/ex16124cpe.pdf, https://www.suepo.org/documents/42509/53610.pdf
19 http://www.richardyung.fr/francais-de-l-etranger/questions-au-gouvernement-francais-etranger-cote-circonscription/4149-degradation-du-climat-social-au-sein-de-loffice-europeen-des-brevets.html
20 http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=-//EP//TEXT+WQ+E-2016-007090+0+DOC+XML+V0//EN

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