01.21.17

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‘Reform’ at the EPO Means Destroying the Staff Union, Crushing Patent Examiners, and Imposing on Europe a System It Does Not Want (UPC)

Posted in Europe, Patents at 6:08 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“When asked by Ars, the EPO’s spokesperson mentioned the imminent arrival of the unitary patent system as an important reason for revising the EPO’s internal rules…”

Dr. Glyn Moody

Laurent Prunier (EPO) talking about the scandal at the EPO with Suzette Saint-Marc (Council of Europe)

Summary: The chaotic transition at the EPO — a transition from something which has been workable to something intolerable — and the role of the Unitary Patent (UPC), which lurks in the shadows and threatens to harm the whole of Europe

Laurent Prunier is the latest victim of the brutal regime at the EPO, where many suicides have been reported (and some not publicly reported). A unions group which is familiar with and outspoken about union-busting activities at the EPO showed “L. Prunier (SUEPO) talking about the scandal at the EPO with S. Saint-Marc (Council of Europe) at the USF meeting during break in Brussels.” (the link is seemingly broken and is connected to a surveillance Web site (Facebook), so the photo at hand got uploaded).

“Laurent Prunier is the latest victim of the brutal regime at the EPO, where many suicides have been reported (and some not publicly reported).”Staff representatives at the EPO, notably but not exclusively SUEPO, have raised legitimate concerns for a long time, but it wasn’t until Battistelli and his crooked regime gained a foothold that they (and staff ‘downstream’, i.e. people they represent and protect) had their rights trampled on. Patent Administration members of staff are suffering the most (intense pressure), some people who are familiar with internal EPO affairs argue, and it’s also where workers occasionally resort to suicide. 6 years ago concerns were raised by staff representatives [PDF], noting that PAs “have a day-job. Change is not the night-job” (that was the title). This long document said that “[t]here are intensive discussions going on about PA-staff’s future – so far without PA staff.”

It also said that “complete reliance on electronic tools for treating applications may offer savings, but it also entails risks. The users must see their concerns addressed to avoid frustration if system failure and bugs put even more pressure onto the daily work in future.”

“Patent Administration members of staff are suffering the most (intense pressure), some people who are familiar with internal EPO affairs argue, and it’s also where workers occasionally resort to suicide.”The EPO is already trying to replace examiners with computers, which leads to all sorts of integrity and quality issues.

A lot of the above is often being justified — however poorly — by saying that there is an ongoing “reform” and all the complaints are just a symptom of resistance/antagonism to change. Based on the quote at the top, the UPC has a lot to do with it. We have therefore been writing a great deal about the UPC recently.

The following new comment explains why the UPC cannot quite happen (or become a reality) unless there’s cheating:

Revisiting the Gordon and Pascoe opinion, I am struck by the following passage.

“If the UPC were truly part of the Union legal order, it would already be subject to these obligations without them needing to be spelled out in the Agreement. Whilst Article 1 of the UPCA and Article 71a of the Brussels Regulation designate the UPC as a “court common to a number of Member States”, we do not consider that such secondary legislation is capable of converting the UPC’s fundamental status as an international court into that of a court which is part of the national legal order”

Upon reflection, I struggle to understand the argument that is being put forward here. In what way is Article 1 of the UPCA “secondary” legislation? The UPCA is, after all, the very instrument that establishes the UPC. Are Gordon and Pascoe therefore suggesting that we should view Article 1 of the UPCA as mere “window dressing”, for the sake of appearances (ie the appearance of complying with Opinion 1/09)?

This was followed by another comment:

I forgot to add that Article 21 UPCA is also relevant.

“As a court common to the Contracting Member States and as part of their judicial system, the Court shall cooperate with the Court of Justice of the European Union to ensure the correct application and uniform interpretation of Union law, as any national court, in accordance with Article 267 TFEU in particular. Decisions of the Court of Justice of the European Union shall be binding on the Court”.

This seems to at least try to place the UPCA firmly within the Union legal order. It is a shame, therefore, that Gordon and Pascoe did not explain why, in their view, Article 21 UPCA also represents mere “window dressing”.

We invite people across Europe, EPO staff included, to help us combat the misguided and possibly illegal (or unconstitutional) ‘reform’ which is UPC. This is a war of occupation by special interests against everyone in Europe including patent examiners. Nobody wants the UPC except prosecutors, patent bullies, and patent trolls (not even European).

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