07.06.18

German Media Compares Team Battistelli at the EPO to the Mafia

Posted in Europe, Patents at 12:23 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Related: The Battistelli Mafia and Corsica (article below involves the Battistellis)

Antoine Battistelli article

Summary: The Mafia-like culture of EPO management as explained in a new article from Christian Kirsch at Heise, Germany’s leading site for technology news

THE STAFF Union of the EPO, SUEPO, published an English translation [PDF] of the article “Europäisches Patentamt: Große Baustellen für den neuen Präsidenten” some time yesterday.

“It also cites an expert when revealing that “around three quarters of the EPO patents challenged in Germany are declared null and void by the Federal Patent Court,” reaffirming concerns about decline in patent quality — something that Team UPC would not mind as it would mean more lawsuits.”While there’s not so much new and unique information in this article, it does (at times) use colourful language, arguing that “the Office sometimes shied away from publicity as if it were some kind of family of Mafiosi.”

It also cites an expert when revealing that “around three quarters of the EPO patents challenged in Germany are declared null and void by the Federal Patent Court,” reaffirming concerns about decline in patent quality — something that Team UPC would not mind as it would mean more lawsuits.

Always remember that patent lawsuits — frivolous or not — are Team UPC’s “bread and butter”.

We’ve decided to reproduce this English translation below with some highlights:

European Patent Office: A lot of ground to make up for the new President

01.07.2018 12:12 Christian Kirsch

The European Patent Office in Munich

The new President of the European Patent Office has a lot to do: Conflicts with staff and criticism of the examination practices have been the trademarks of the past few years.

Benoît Battistelli took office as President of the European Patent Office (EPO) on 1 July 2010. Eight years later the job is being taken on by the previous Director of the European Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), António Campinos. He will have to head up an authority of which the staff have been locked in a struggle with management for years. And as well as that, criticism has recently been growing from the outside of Battistelli’s pet project, “greater efficiency” at the Office.

The fact that all is not well at the EPO was already becoming evident at the end of 2012. At that time the management intended disbursing a part of the surplus of 89 million Euro to the staff. The staff union SUEPO turned the offer down, on the grounds that it would have been a false incentive to approve patent applications rather than reject them. Essentially, it is only from approved applications that the Office earns its money on a regular basis.

António Campinos, Director of the EU Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), takes over the Presidency of the European Patent Office as from 1 July. (Picture: Portuguese Government)

Twice as many patents with the same personnel

The accusation that Battistelli was more interested in quantity than quality was made again and again over the years of his Presidency. In 2010 the EPO issued 58,000 patents; in 2017, at 105,000, there were almost twice as many. In the same period between 142,000 and 165,000 applications were received annually. There was little change among the patent examiners either: Their number rose from the end of 2011 to the end of 2017 by only six percent. Battistelli could congratulate himself on having almost doubled “productivity”.

The Office disputes the contention that the applications may not be being examined as thoroughly as they were in the past. Battistelli had his own “Quality Reports” produced for 2016 and 2017, which were supposed to prove that everything was for the good. But not everyone was convinced. Patent attorney Thorsten Bausch, for example, says that a high proportion of “very satisfied” applicants can easily be explained by the rapid processing; of course someone is happy if they get their patent rapidly.

But whether the protective right was correctly issued is really only determined later, such as in legal action for patent infringement. Bausch points out that around three quarters of the EPO patents challenged in Germany are declared null and void by the Federal Patent Court. And that says nothing about the general quality, because only a very few patents actually get as far as going to court.

Concern about the robustness of patents

Shortly before the end of Battistelli’s time in office, four Munich patent attorney firms published an open letter, in which they criticised the accelerated patent issue procedure. By their own estimation, the firms handle tens of thousands of patents. In their view, it is plain to see that the quality of patent examination is going to suffer if the main aim is to get the business over and done with as fast as possible. Back in March 2018 almost a quarter of the EPO patent examiners approached Battistelli and the Administrative Council of the Office. They complained that they were more and more frequently being faced with choosing between the requirements laid down by the European Patent Convention and the demands of their superiors, and what they wanted was to churn out “products”.

A sign

But that was not the only concern for the staff during Battistelli’s eight year reign. Above all, the relationship between him and the union became steadily worse. This degeneration culminated in the demotion and dismissal of staff representatives at the beginning of 2016. This meant that the EPO President was actually going over the heads of the disciplinary commission concerned. Legal challenges by the people sacked resulted in success at the end of June 2018: The court with jurisdiction at the International Labour Organization (ILO) ruled the decisions by the disciplinary commission and Battistelli’s intensifying of penalties were wrongful in law, and awarded the union members compensatory damages.

Suspension without evidence

Battistelli got another slap in the face over the suspension of a judge at the EPO Board of Appeal. The procedure, according to criticism by many patent experts, had actually broken the Patent Office’s own rules. Battistelli had not been authorised to take action at all. He initiated an emergency situation, but without presenting any evidence for doing so. Instead, the EPO Press Department spread the word that the judge who was fired had been found to have weapons and fascist propaganda material in his office. The only support for Battistelli’s accusation that the judge had slandered him and the Office was a mysterious USB stick. The content of this stick was recently declared by Munich Regional Court to be inadmissible as evidence, after the ILO had already lifted Battistelli’s disciplinary measures against the judge.

So António Campinos is inheriting a heavy burden. Not only does he have mend the relationship with the staff, he also needs to restore lost confidence among clients of the EPO. For both issues, a departure from Battistelli’s beleaguered fortress mentality could help. During his time, the Office sometimes shied away from publicity as if it were some kind of family of Mafiosi.

EPO income is still gushing

But the 38 member States involved in the EPO have no particular interest in a more open approach. The Administrative Council, to which they appoint delegates, largely kept its nose out of the way Battistelli ran the Office, and the minutes of its meetings are models of largely how to say nothing. From the point of view of the Administrative Council, everything could presumably stay exactly the way it was. In the final analysis, rising income at the EPO creates substantial injections of cash for the national patent offices, and for the German in particular. During Battistelli’s term in office, annual profits at the EPO went up almost fivefold, to 394 million Euro.

Even if the relationships between the Office management and the staff do improve, a basic dilemma remains: The EPO is a supra-national institution. Despite its name, it has nothing to do with the EU. This means that the staff have no recourse to European labour law, nor to any other national labour legislation. Any conflicts which cannot be resolved inside the Office are a matter for the International Labour Organization, and decisions there can take up to ten years. (Christian Kirsch) / (ck)

We haven’t yet seen/found any turnaround in António Campinos; in fact, we are growing rather impatient as today he closes one week at the Office and he hasn’t yet signaled reinstatement of staff representatives, Judge Corcoran etc. We did, however, see him lobbying for the unconstitutional UPC (on his second day in Office) — a subject to be explored or revisited in our next post.

Share in other sites/networks: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Reddit
  • email

This post is also available in Gemini over at:

gemini://gemini.techrights.org/2018/07/06/mafia-like-culture-of-epo-management/

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

What Else is New


  1. Links 21/6/2021: NVIDIA’s DLSS and Most Beautiful GNU/Linux Distributions

    Links for the day



  2. Neil's Misgovernment

    The GNOME Foundation has one member of staff fewer; the attack on the founder/father of Free/libre software activism and GNU (the "G" in GNOME) failed and backfired spectacularly



  3. IRC Proceedings: Monday, June 21, 2021

    IRC logs for Monday, June 21, 2021



  4. Virtual Injustice -- Part 14: How Mandatory ViCo Became the “New Normal”

    How mandatory ViCo hearings gradually became the "New Normal" at the EPO



  5. Links 21/6/2021: Rocky Linux 8.4, IPFire 2.25 - Core Update 157, and SUSE Linux Enterprise 15 SP3

    Links for the day



  6. There Are Bigger Scandals Than Revisionism and Brand Dilution at the Linux Foundation

    There are some misconceptions that need tackling; back in February (more than 4 months ago) the so-called 'Linux' Foundation decided to associate with yet another controversial drive that has nothing to do with Linux; some people think it's a new thing and leap to conclusions



  7. Techrights Video Gallery Without JavaScript

    Some of the improvements made this morning to the gallery of recent videos



  8. IRC Proceedings: Sunday, June 20, 2021

    IRC logs for Sunday, June 20, 2021



  9. Links 21/6/2021: Linux 5.13 RC7, IRC.com by Freenode

    Links for the day



  10. Virtual Injustice -- Part 13: Let the Games Continue…

    "It would be nice to think that the events of 28 May have given the Enlarged Board pause for thought."



  11. Links 20/6/2021: Akademy 2021 Underway and Linux Foundation Blasted

    Links for the day



  12. EPO: Fake Patents, Fake (Paid-for) Patent Coverage, and Fake Awards for Public Relations Purposes

    The media has been thoroughly corrupted, patent legitimacy has been severely damaged (far too many European Patents aren't in compliance with the EPC anymore), and Team UPC is trying to undermine the EPC and turn Europe into another Texas



  13. Changes in IRC and New Features Over Gemini Protocol or the World Wide Web

    We examine more closely some of the latest changes in the site and the capsule (Web and Gemini, respectively); we show that it’s possible to keep abreast of IRC using nothing but a text editor, a Gemini client… or even the command line alone



  14. IRC Proceedings: Saturday, June 19, 2021

    IRC logs for Saturday, June 19, 2021



  15. We Need and Deserve a Saner Patent System in Europe

    The laughing stock that the patent system, the patent law firms, and patent media became (over the past few years) must be replaced; at the moment we have a cabal connected to a bunch of criminals running the entire show and the public understandably grows impatient (at least people who are sufficiently informed; the criminals have already intimidated and bribed a lot of the media and they're still bribing more of it, as we shall demonstrate later today)



  16. [Meme] IRC Wars in a Nutshell

    In terms of large IRC networks, we’re in trouble (unless we self-host) because they seem to be dividing themselves along political lines rather than anything technical or something of an on-topic/relevant substance. Using networks for Free software projects/organisations to push one’s political agenda is not acceptable because it’s starting to seem like in IRC space, FN has become the Front Nationale (French) and LC is Liberal Coalition. Both FreeNode and Libera Chat have managed to turn from technical platforms into political parties, in effect using technical networks (intended for technical projects) to push someone's political agenda and thus misusing them for personal gain. There’s no free lunch. As it turns out, FreeNode’s new owner (Andrew Lee) has just outed himself as a huge Donald Trump supporter who speaks of “these fuckers who stole that shit” (he meant the election, which he insists Trump actually won in 2020).



  17. IBM Handles More Removals of Signatures From Its Hate Letter Against Richard Stallman

    Less than a day ago IBM processed a request for removal (from its hate letter); as someone put it in a letter to us, also less than a day ago: “When all of this started in 2019, the Red Hat GNU developers showed off their colours. The best way to attack an organisation is from the inside. Using GNU developers was a dead giveaway. Google and Microsoft are very much on the team with IBM. I believe they’ve made headway into the Free/Libre software community and have persuaded senior Debianties to go along with them.” That same message, from an anonymous GNU maintainer, said: “The strategy to target major distributions is clear and present danger. I’m not sure what arguments of persuasion are being used, but I’m pretty sure their main tool is currency. RMS needs a lot of strategic support from experts who will rally to the Free Software cause. He needs great lawyers, some corporate minds, and intelligence specialists.” Sometimes it seems or feels like by simply buying Red Hat (the staff) IBM infiltrated the GNU Project and now it is vainly making claims like 'GNU is IBM' and thus IBM et al can command/tell the FSF who should run FSF, not only GNU. Such entryism isn’t hard to see; “An open letter in support of Richard Matthew Stallman being reinstated by the Free Software Foundation” has meanwhile garnered 6,758 signatures. The opposite letter is only decreasing in support (signatures lost).



  18. Links 20/6/2021: Debian GNU/Linux 10.10 “Buster” Released and LF Revisionism Resumes

    Links for the day



  19. The EPO's Enlarged Board of Appeal Has Already Lost the Case in the Court of Public Opinion

    Personal views on the sordid state of the Enlarged Board of Appeal (EBoA), which by extension bodes poorly for the perception of independence in every Board of Appeal (BoA); the patent tribunals have been captured by patent maximalists who either stack the panels or intimidate judges into ruling in a particular way



  20. Virtual Injustice -- Part 12: Carl Josefsson – Down But Not Out!

    António Campinos still controls Josefsson, who controls all the judges, so in effect all the legal cases (including some about European software patents) are manipulated by the Office the judges are supposed to judge



  21. Links 19/6/2021: Wine 6.11 and Proton 6.3-5 RC

    Links for the day



  22. IRC Proceedings: Friday, June 18, 2021

    IRC logs for Friday, June 18, 2021



  23. Virtual Injustice -- Part 11: Perceptive Comments and Caustic Criticism

    The EPO‘s management managed to silence a lot of the critical media (handouts and threats from Benoît Battistelli and António Campinos), but silencing comments is a lot harder; though we don’t know which ones were moderated out of existence…



  24. Links 18/6/2021: Mir 2.4, ActivityWatch 0.11, Microsoft Breaks Its Own Repos

    Links for the day



  25. [Meme] When the 'Court' Drops

    As the EPO sneakily outsourced courts to American companies and parties in dispute depend on their ISP for “access to justice” there’s a catastrophic impact on the very concept of justice or the right to be heard (sometimes you don’t hear anything and/or cannot be heard)



  26. The EPO's Virtual Injustice and Virtual ('News') Media

    A discussion of this morning's post (part 10 in a series) about the shallow media/blog coverage that followed or accompanied last month's notorious EPO hearing



  27. Links 18/6/2021: LibreOffice 7.2 Beta, Elementary OS 6.0 Beta 2, and Linux Mint 20.2 “Uma” Beta

    Links for the day



  28. The Self-Hosting Song

    Cautionary tales about outsourcing one's systems to companies that could not care less about anyone but themselves



  29. IRC Proceedings: Thursday, June 17, 2021

    IRC logs for Thursday, June 17, 2021



  30. [Meme] Swedish Justice

    The EPO‘s patent tribunals have been mostly symbolic under the Benoît Battistelli and António Campinos regimes; giving them back their autonomy (and removing those who help Battistelli and Campinos attack their autonomy) is the only way to go now


RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

Recent Posts