02.27.17

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Top Officials in French Government Are Growing Tired of Battistelli’s Abuses at the European Patent Office (EPO)

Posted in Europe, Patents at 8:18 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Not the first time Axelle Lemaire speaks out against Battistelli, even in his own media-shaping events (see below, from 2015)


Summary: An automated translation of a recent debate about the EPO in the French government, culminating in intervention by Richard Yung

IT IS no secret that many politicians, including several French ones, have grown tired of the EPO‘s management, which they view as a disgrace/liability to France that damages the country’s image.

The other day Mr. Yung spoke about it and then wrote about, but soon afterwards he removed his blog post, whereupon we contacted Yung and asked for the reason. Well, he has just posted this augmented piece (same thing again, but this time with text rather than video).

The automated translation reveals involvement also from Axelle Lemaire, who spoke about the issues as far back as 2 years ago. We could use a proper French translations from a native (mother’s tongue) speaker; that would be appreciated. Maybe SUEPO will do this soon, as it noticed the removal of the previous post and took note of the revision earlier today. It looks like, just in case, it also made a copy of the text in French [PDF]. We prefer not to comment on automated translations as these are not reliable and can sometimes propagate confusion (due to subtleties that machines cannot capture). Here is how Google translated the whole thing (unmodified and uncorrected)

Oral question on the deterioration of the social climate in the EPO: reply from the Government

Written by Richard Yung Tuesday, 21 February 2017 00:00

On 21 February I asked the Government about the deterioration of the social climate in the European Patent Office (EPO) .

Below, you will find the text and The video of my speech and the response of the Secretary of State for Digital and Innovation , Axelle Lemaire.

The Chairman . I call Mr Richard Yung, the author of Question No 1578 to the Minister for Economic Affairs and Finance.

Mr. Richard Yung . My unfortunately recurrent question concerns the deterioration of the social climate in the European Patent Office, the EPO.
Since 2010, the measures implemented by the EPO management have led to a reduction in the fundamental rights of the staff: I am thinking in particular of limiting the right to strike, calling into question freedom of association or Right to collective bargaining.
It appears that the EPO is the organization most often challenged before the Administrative Tribunal of the International Labor Organization, which is called upon to rule on staff disputes in international organizations.
In a judgment of 2015, the Hague Court of Appeal found several measures taken by the EPO management illegal. The latter appealed to the Court of Cassation, claiming immunity from execution, which was in fact enjoyed by international organizations.
Since the beginning of 2016, several sanctions have been imposed on union representatives: three lay-offs and one demotion. In addition, investigations and disciplinary proceedings are under way.
In a resolution adopted on 16 March 2016, the EPO’s Governing Board, which is its highest authority, calls on the President of the Office, inter alia, to “ensure that disciplinary sanctions and procedures are not only fair but Considered to be strong, and to consider the possibility of appealing to an external review, arbitration or mediation body “.
This resolution was ignored by the management of the EPO, who was content to organize a “Potemkin” social conference, one might say.
The Bavarian Parliament has recently debated and debated the matter, although the immunity from jurisdiction and enforcement enjoyed by the EPO makes it difficult for States to take action.
The proper functioning of the EPO is one of the prerequisites for the success of the European patent, which is proven, and for the implementation of the future unitary patent. I therefore ask the Government what solutions it proposes to propose, in particular through the French delegation to the EPO’s Board of Directors, in order to encourage the resumption of social dialogue and the emergence of a new mode of governance, As well as the review of sanctions.

The Chairman . I call the Secretary of State.

Ms Axelle Lemaire , Secretary of State to the Minister of Economy and Finance, in charge of digital and innovation. The European Patent Office, created by the European Patent Convention of 5 October 1973, is an intergovernmental organization that has been operational since 1977. It employs nearly 7,000 agents from thirty different countries. Its Management Board, which brings together representatives of thirty-eight Member States, has decided to reform the EPO staff regulations in order to ensure its long-term financial viability.
This reform, which covers the entire social framework – pensions, remuneration, social benefits, etc. – must be implemented in consultation with the staff representatives. This is the beginning of the story …
In February 2015, the Hague Court of Appeal questioned certain decisions taken internally at the EPO. The Office appealed to the Supreme Court of the Netherlands, which in a decision of 20 January 2017 annulled the judgments of the courts of The Hague and confirmed the jurisdictional immunity of the Office.
In March 2016, France supported the initiative taken by the EPO’s Board of Directors, which voted a resolution to underline the urgent need to resolve the social problem that is causing this organization.
The resolution, which was adopted nearly a year ago, provided for the implementation of a social audit, the presentation to the Board of Directors of changes in staff regulations and the suspension of disciplinary proceedings.
What about today ?
The objective, independent study carried out by PricewaterhouseCoopers, presented in October 2016, highlights the deterioration of the social climate within the Office. This degradation undermines the image of the organization; It is also harmful, indirectly, but certainly, in the image of France abroad and within international organizations, despite the very favorable remuneration of agents compared to other international organizations.
This study recommends ways to improve existing disciplinary procedures.
The March 2016 resolution provided for the Board of Directors to review the status of EPO staff in order to change the guidelines on internal investigations and disciplinary procedures. The French representatives on the board of directors will be very careful to ensure that this revision is conducive to appeasement of social dialogue within the institution. Indeed, that is what is at stake.
No less than five ministers have joined forces with parliamentarians to explain these issues: Emmanuel Macron, Michel Sapin, Christophe Sirugue, myself, and also the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Jean-Marc Ayrault. We have been deeply involved in ensuring that decisions taken at the EPO’s boards of directors are in line with the rules and jurisprudence of international law.
The secretary of state for industry, Christophe Sirugue, who has had several exchanges with EPO management, continues to be fully mobilized to reaffirm France’s determination to see an unacceptable social situation standardized.
This standardization is essential to create the conditions for greater efficiency of the EPO in the context of the implementation of the European patent with unitary effect, which should enable Europe to distinguish itself in terms of intellectual property And industry in the world of innovation.

The Chairman . I call Mr Richard Yung.

Mr. Richard Yung . Madam Secretary of State, I agree with you that the current situation is detrimental to the staff and affects the motivation of the staff and the Office as a whole. Moreover, it taints the reputation of our country, and I fear that there are still sequels.
While I note the specific action taken by the Government, I see that this is really happening on the EPO’s Board of Directors, which is the determining body. It is here that France must make her voice heard.
Another possibility, provided for by the Munich Convention, would be to convene a Council of Ministers responsible for industrial property. He could discuss a number of issues: the unitary patent, which you have mentioned and which will soon come into force, plant patents, and the management of the EPO’s staff.
That is a proposal I am sending to your sagacity, Madam Secretary of State.

We eagerly wait (or hope) for a human-produced translation of the above.

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