10.10.19

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The EPO’s President Campinos is a Liar

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 7:07 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

One year ago: ‘Efficiency’ in Action: António Campinos is Sending Jobs Abroad, Then Gagging Critics

António Campinos drunken satire

Summary: It’s becoming ever more apparent that the ‘new’ and ‘improved’ or ‘shy’ and ‘gentle’ EPO President isn’t a credible negotiation partner; it’s a wolf masquerading as a bewildered sheep

THE integrity of the European Patent Office (EPO) cannot be restored under António Campinos. Everything we’ve seen so far only reinforces or proves correct our suspicions of him. He’s another Battistelli or maybe even worse because he’s masking things better — a subject we’ll tackle in our next post. Campinos opposes patent quality and promotes software patents in Europe just as much as Battistelli did. Both like to speak of “quality” and “transparency” while pursuing the exact opposite, but Campinos is a slightly better pretender, which makes him even more dangerous.

“Mr Campinos breaks his promise” is a publication circulated in the EPO last week. It’s worded too politely, probably for diplomatic reasons (bureaucracy has its downsides because crude truth and honesty better convey reality). The full title is “Technologia Staff Survey: Mr Campinos breaks his promise” and as put clearly further down in the text, Campinos is even worse than Battistelli in that regard! Battistelli allowed this survey to go on for more than half a decade after he had taken Office. “After only 14 months as head of the Office,” explains the letter below, “Mr Campinos has achieved the feat of acting in exactly the same way, and, on top of that, pulling back on an earlier commitment. We are speechless.”

You would be “speechless” only if you ever genuinely believed that Campinos would turn things around (we wrote about Campinos way back in 2016, saying he was the likely successor of Battistelli). Here’s the full letter:

Technologia Staff Survey: Mr Campinos breaks his promise

Dear Colleagues,

On 15 May 2019 we wrote an open letter to the President asking him to help the CSC with the logistics of the 4th edition of the Technologia Staff Survey, and to authorise the dispatch of individual survey access codes to all EPO staff members at their @epo.org email address.

On Monday 3 June, during a meeting with the CSC, the President committed to exactly that1. The Staff Representation then made contact with the CIO, following which a positive and productive meeting took place with the CIO and an HR representative. It was clear that the EPO administration had been instructed to facilitate the organisation of the Technologia Staff Survey within the EPO. Procedures on how to distribute the roughly 7000 individual access codes to all EPO employees at their epo.org addresses were discussed in detail, and it was decided that further aspects would be finalised after the summer break with a view to launching the survey mid-September.

On Thursday 11 September the President wrote a letter to the CSC, reneging on his promise of 3 June 2019. In his letter Mr Campinos argued, among other things, that “the sending of mass email is, as a matter of principle and in line with the Office’s IT policy, not among the methods of communication generally available for staff representatives”2. The President further stated that we should not worry about psychosocial risk analysis and prevention in the Office, considering “management’s commitment to improving the wellbeing of staff.”

Unavoidably, a disturbing question comes to mind: If management is truly interested in staff’s wellbeing, why is the President forbidding the CSC to provide each of the 7000 EPO staff members with the opportunity to take part in a survey set up by recognised experts on psychosocial risks?

No need to say that we are deeply disappointed in the President’s decision, which is not contributing to building trust between social partners. We wish to recall that the CSC was able to run the first two editions of the Technologia survey (in 2010 and 2013) using the epo.org addresses of staff without any hindrance from management. Mr Battistelli removed this possibility from the CSC for the third edition of the survey in 2016, at a time when he was busy dismissing elected staff representatives3.

After only 14 months as head of the Office, Mr Campinos has achieved the feat of acting in exactly the same way, and, on top of that, pulling back on an earlier commitment. We are speechless.

We intend to inform the Administrative Council of the above events. However, the fact remains that the CSC can no longer organise the Technologia Staff Survey. None of the proposals made by Mr Campinos in his letter – an attempt to fool the inattentive reader? – are viable, something the President should not ignore4.

We will now turn to SUEPO and ask them whether they will accept taking up the baton once more and running the Technologia Staff Survey on their own behalf, as we think that getting a clear picture of the present situation of EPO staff with respect to psychosocial risks is a must.

The Central Staff Committee

______
1 As reported by SUEPO in this paper (cf. point 5, second bullet).
2 This is an anomaly which is only true at the EPO and only since mid-2013 when Mr Battistelli decided to remove access to mass email from the Staff Representation. In all other International Organisations and in EU institutions or agencies, including the EUIPO (where Mr Campinos comes from), Staff Committees can send emails to all staff.
3 At that time, SUEPO decided to take over the survey and successfully ran it.
4 The CSC does not have the private email addresses of EPO staff, and the CSC does not conduct its business outsid

The EPO’s management does not appear to genuinely care about its main asset — the staff. As we recently showed, this staff is increasingly being replaced by outside contractors. More on that later.

We wish to draw attention to this new comment from “Experienced Examiner” over at Kluwer Patent Blog. To quote: “I get the strong impression that the EPO on purpose uses an unrealistically low discount rate, with the aim to fool the readers (apologies).”

To quote the whole comment:

And it is out: The new President published a set of measures aimed to ensure financial stability of the EPO. Those measures follow the Financial Study (a copy is available here: https://www.epo.org/modules/epoweb/acdocument/epoweb2/377/en/CA-46-19_en.pdf)

Said study has been commented on already, also on this blog. Various issues have been raised, like the lack of regularly adjusting the fees to inflation over the 20 years. Now something new popped up: the discount rates relied upon. You may wish to take a look at pages 38 and 44.In all scenarios, the discount rate starts at 2% and increases quite slowly. A low discount rate means that you need a lot of money now to cover future obligations.Page 44 indicates a strong effect of the discount rate.

We also received news from the actuaries calculating the money needed to fund the pensions. Those actuaries also use a discount rate. They relied on a discount rate of 3.25%, lowered from 3.50% compared to the study a few years ago.

Strange that the EPO relies on two different discount rates to assess its financial situation. The professionals of the trade, the actuaries, use a higher discount rate than the financial study. Speaking only for myself, I get the strong impression that the EPO on purpose uses an unrealistically low discount rate, with the aim to fool the readers (apologies).

So the EPO is perfectly OK with propagandistic, misleading ‘studies’; but when the staff wants to commission something more honest and independent, then the staff is being blocked. Even if people’s lives depend on it.

Lies have become the norm at the EPO; anything that helps refute these lies gets scuttled.

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