05.17.18

Today’s EPO Financially Rewards Abuses and Violations of the Law

Posted in Europe, Patents at 11:45 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“This just confirms that EPO employees have no rights, and management is not held accountable for its behaviour. And the Admin council, who could/should hold management accountable, is silent.”Anonymous

Theranos and EPO

Summary: Battistelli shredded the European Patent Convention (EPC) to pieces and he is being rewarded for it, perpetuating a pattern of abuses (and much worse) being rewarded by the European Patent Organisation

BACK in March we wrote about the President of the EPO receiving a massive bonus for destroying the institution, reducing it to intellectual rubble which repels talent and literally rewards frauds or charlatans.

Should it be surprising at all that Battistelli is being rewarded? Even amid scandals like shipping of EPO money to his other employer? Will he be held accountable belatedly like Nicolas Sarkozy? He’s nearly 70 — probably a lot older than any of the wines in his collection.

Considering the latest spin from Team UPC and the upcoming keynote speech at an IAM event, Battistelli does have its share of supporters; they’re patent extremists and people whom he pays (from the EPO’s budget). He is to them what Donald Trump is to many of his supporters; the lies and the abuses don’t seem to matter to them as long as he serves some of their agenda, e.g. UPC and an abundance of low-quality patent grants. Notice how almost no law firm speaks out against him (except sometimes, albeit under conditions of anonymity). To give an example from yesterday, Shrey Pathak from Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner, LLP is still perpetuating this trend of Finnegan puff pieces for EPO decisions/policies. Finnegan works together with IAM towards patent maximalism and yesterday it wrote:

Once a patent is granted by the European Patent Office (EPO), it becomes a bundle of national patents. As a result when looking to amend a European patent after grant, despite attempts to harmonise national patent laws and practice, different countries may have different requirements as well as fees for making changes to the patent in those states.

The revision of the European Patent Convention (EPC) in December 2007 introduced Article 105a EPC and a relatively quick, cost effective and straightforward centralised procedure at the EPO to amend a European patent in all validated states after grant. In this respect the patentee may limit the scope of their European patent at any given time after grant, except when the patent is being opposed or appealed at the EPO.

Well, the European Patent Convention (EPC) no longer applies at the EPO; we’ve covered more examples than we can remember wherein Battistelli violated the EPC without any consequences. Even the Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation did not seem to mind. They’re complicit.

Recently, staff representatives repeated their request for transparency, not demanding but politely asking to know why (and how much) Battistelli is being rewarded for his bad behaviour. Somebody sent the letter to us (it is an “Open Letter”) and we’re reproducing it below:

Date: 04.05.2018

OPEN LETTER

Governance and transparency

Dear Mr Battistelli,

The EPO is an international organisation at the heart of the patent system and (self-) financed by fees from applicants. With the introduction of the new career system the grades for EPO management were adjusted upwards for higher salaries and bonuses and functional allowances were introduced. Until last year functional allowances were not foreseen for managers and the award of individual bonuses for higher management was strongly denied. Not only has the possibility for functional allowances been opened for managers, the previous cap at the equivalent of two steps was considerably increased to two monthly salaries1. We have always argued against such additional rewards particularly for higher management who are already quite comfortably served with their high incomes. Requests for more transparency in the reward exercises of the past years have been ignored, such that the application of any rewards remains quite opaque to this day.

Different sources lead us to understand that in its March meeting the Administrative Council (AC) has approved an extraordinary bonus of some 600.000 Euro to be paid to you, Mr Battistelli. We are not aware of that bonus featuring on the agenda of the last AC meeting, nor are we aware of any consultation of the Budget and Finance Committee. It is unclear from which budget that bonus will be or has been paid and we would appreciate if reassurances would be given that it did not come out of the envelope earmarked for this year’s reward exercise, as it does not appear to have been exhausted yet with some 6,8m EUR not allocated2.

The Central Bureau of SUEPO has to date not received an answer to its request by letter (su14137cl) of 5 June 2014 for making your employment conditions public. For such additional benefit to simply and quietly materialise would appear not to be foreseen in the key elements of the EPO President’s contract (CA/186/09), officially published “in the interests of good governance and transparency”, and “with narrow scope for negotiation”.

Bonuses are frowned upon in the civil service. Rumours of extraordinary or individual bonuses have been circulating for members of senior management for this and the past years. The award of such a very substantial additional benefit in your case will be seen as inappropriate for an international organisation like ours and feed the perception that a self-service mentality lives at the EPO. If that bonus should have been argued on the grounds of the Office’s exceptional performance, then surely staff have provided that basis. Many users of the patent system will question whether that bonus is justified when reviewing your actions during your presidency3.

We feel that it is long overdue for you to provide full clarity “in the interests of good governance and transparency”.

Yours sincerely,
Joachim Michels
Chairman of the Central Staff Committee

cc: Mr Christoph Ernst, Chairman of the AC
____
1 manager rewards increases:
as of 2015: new career: for managers about up to 20% higher salary in first step. End salary reachable in extreme cases about 6 times faster – enabling to reach it within 3 years

as of 2017: functional allowance: up to 16% of basic salary December 2017: injection into SSP, advantage of about 10x by management to staff in
lower grades

spring 2018: individual / extraordinary bonus: €600k; equivalent to about 222% of yearly basic salary

2 May we suggest that the funds are turned into pensionable rewards for those who helped you look good – staff?

3 See for instance the poll by Juve: 87% criticise the low appreciation for staff; 71% the excessive emphasis on efficiency.

The letter referred to above is 4 years old and we’re reproducing it below as well:

Munich 05.06.2014

Transparency on your earnings

Dear Mr Battistelli,

European citizens demand today the highest level of transparency and accountability not only from institutions and organisations operating in Europe, but also from the leaders who manage them.

You have served as the head of the European Patent Office for almost four years. We understand you actively seek an extension of your current mandate which ends in June 2015.

Since you have regularly claimed to be a strong supporter of openness and transparency, we are sure that you will not object to disclosing information which has so far been kept under wraps and respond to the list of questions provided in the Annex.

SUEPO kindly requests full and frank disclosure, with clear answers to all the questions by close of business on 17 June 2014.

If no satisfactory answers are received, SUEPO will have to take appropriate steps and inform the public accordingly.

We copy the delegations of the Administrative Council for information.

Yours sincerely,

On behalf of SUEPO Central:
J. Michels
Chair SUEPO Central

D. Dickinson
Vice Chair SUEPO Central
Chair SUEPO Vienna

W. Manntz
Vice Chair SUEPO Central
Chair SUEPO Berlin

E. Hardon
Vice Chair SUEPO Central
Chair SUEPO Munich

A. Rose
Vice Chairman SUEPO Central
Chair SUEPO The Hague

cc.: Representatives of Administrative Council delegations

ANNEX: LIST OF QUESTIONS TO Mr BATTISTELLI.

1. How much does your salary including allowances and other benefits amount to each month, both gross and net of tax?

2. Have you received any additional financial benefits, e.g. bonuses, entertainment allowance or use of services and facilities since you joined the Office. If so: are these benefits defined in your contract with the EPO; what are the amounts; and what are the performance conditions attached to their award?

3. Does your contract with the EPO foresee an end-of-contract bonus? If so: is it conditioned to any achieved goal or performance?

4. Does your contract with the EPO foresee a pension to be paid by the organisation? If so, what is the basis for the calculation and the amount (gross and net of tax)? Are there conditions attached to the payment?

5. Did you receive any income or expenses for your position as an associate mayor of St. Germain-en-Laye after taking up your mandate as President of the EPO (from July 2010)? Following recent municipal elections in March 2014, do you continue to receive any payment for your new position of “conseiller municipal”?

6. Do you receive a pension from the French State, as a former civil servant? If so, how much is it each month, again gross and net of tax?

We don’t expect Battistelli to ever willingly disclose these figures/facts (it’s like asking Trump for his tax returns), but we certainly hope that one day he will be held accountable for what he did at the EPO and his ‘bulldog’ from Croatia will be held accountable for what he did in the Croatian SIPO. No person in this world should be above the law. The EPO seems to have become a harbour for abusers in need of immunity; Battistelli took it a step further and made it somewhat of a mental asylum.

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