11.07.20

EPO Insider Explains “Team Leaders” and the Downfall of the EPO

Posted in Europe, Patents at 5:08 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

EPO is ‘funktionshäftling‘ now

The Office three-way gun fight: AC, ILO, EPO

Summary: The EPO is going down the drain because it fails to function the way it was intended to function (in pursuit of totally misguided goals)

THE EPO’s crisis has not ended. People are just quiet about it and the press says nothing (by choice). The other day Thorsten Bausch (Hoffmann Eitle) wrote something about it for the first time in months. We particularly like comments such as this. About a day after SUEPO had linked to it from its public homepage someone left the following comment, as recently as yesterday (“November 6, 2020 at 4:13 pm”), under the name “What is at stake is not only the independence of the boards of appeal” and it’s worth reproducing for all EPO workers who read Techrights (there are thousands of them):

The problem of the 5 years contracts is not a problem typical for the boards of appeal of the EPO, but is valid nowadays for the whole EPO.

In the past, an appointment to director or principal director was for a lifetime. Only members of the boards of appeal were appointed for renewable 5-year periods.

I do not know where this different treatment came from, but it would be interesting to dig into the “Travaux Préparatoires” of the EPC 1973. Up to the penultimate president of the EPO, a member of the boards was always reappointed without any problem.

In order to “increase the perception of independence” of the boards, the penultimate president pushed the AC to introduce R 12d making the reappointment of a member subject to a performance assessment, in other words subject to the quantity of files dealt with by a member. The deleterious atmosphere of DG1 has now found its way into the boards of appeal.

It goes however further. The EPO management used the pretext of appointing board members for only five years as an excuse to first apply this rule to principal directors (PD): they are thus only appointed for five years.

It made it possible to put PDs under heavy pressure, and one could observe these people being on tender hooks from 3 ½ years onwards.

The rule of only 5 years appointments was then passed down to the director level. And then mega-directorates were created by the penultimate VP1. Whilst the Interim Committee preceding the opening of the EPO decided on 12 examiners/director, they are now responsible for several tens of examiners and “Team Leaders” were introduced, and the 5-years policy went a step further down. Team leaders do the job of a director, but they stay examiners.

The 5 year rule presently applies also to examiners. A newly recruited examiner only gets a renewable 5 years year contract to start with. A lifetime appointment as examiner is only possible after the successful achievement of a second 5 years period. But any step further up in the hierarchy is only available with renewable 5 years contracts.

Senior management has thus managed to put pressure on the entire workforce of the EPO. Anyone who doesn’t keep up with the allotted objectives or becomes unruly in the view of the management will be fired, unless he belongs to the illustrious circle of favourites and mignons, but those people are always excellent performers……

The problem of true independence is therefore not just a problem of the boards of appeal but one that permeates the whole EPO.

And this has deleterious consequences. These are of course worst and most obvious in the boards, but the problem also applies to the rest of the EPO.

As far as the examiners are concerned, it is very simple: if you don’t achieve the allotted target, you are incompetent and will be fired. In the past, you could only be fired after a disciplinary procedure.

Under the penultimate president Staff Regulations were amended so that in the event of “professional incompetence”, no disciplinary procedure is necessary to be fired. This has also significantly reduced the possibility to complain internally or to the Administrative Tribunal of the ILO. Being a discretionary decision, the power of revision of the ILO tribunal is very limited and the latter will only intervene when there has been a blatant abuse of power.

The boards of appeal only represent the tip of the iceberg when it comes to independence, but the boards are by no means the only place where the independence of the EPO’s staff is in question. According to the penultimate president all those measures had a more than positive effect on quality! Who dares dispute this view? If you do, you get fired like in a well know US TV reality show.

Senior management behaves like 19th century employers, and that is not acceptable in the 21th century. And on top of it senior management has no responsibility and systematically refers to its immunity. But immunity is not impunity. The AC has been gullible for all those changes and it continues on this path with the present president. The tail is indeed wagging the dog. One wonders why?

Also mind the following comment, left by “Francis Hagel” earlier today (“3:43 pm”) regarding software patents in Europe or “CII” with the ‘technical’ mirage (in yellow below):

I agree with your concern that the appointment of BOA members should not be based on their supposed personal views on politically charged issues. I have comments though on the divide between technical and legal judges or BOA members. Court judges and BOA members are supposed to make decisions independently from the wishes of the executive (government or EPO management or AC), ie they must not be result-oriented in a political sense. At the same time, they should take into account the purpose of the rule in their interpretations, which is different. And also pay attention to other aspects of prime significance to all stakeholders : the consistency and predictability of the jurisprudence, the clarity of the reasoning and of the conclusions.

As to technical judges or BOA members, I find the metaphor of the current flow simplistic. A cornerstone of the BOA jurisprudence and EPO doctrines is the reliance on the technical character. Following the current flow metaphor, it should be simple to decide whether something is technical or not. This could look simple indeed in the 70’s. However, this word has never been defined and the EBA has stated that it did not feel compelled to provide a specific definition, given the evolutions of technology and of their fields of application. As a matter of fact, a BOA decision acknowledged this was a grey area. The reliance on such a fuzzy notion leads to overly complex reasoning in CII cases grappling with the entanglement between supposedly technical and non-technical aspects, and the definition of a divided skilled person comprising a business person and a technical person, only creating unnecessary uncertainties.

We’re gratified to see that more people recognise this deep dishonesty. The term “technical” is even more meaningless/vague/broad than “HEY HI” (AI); the EPO isn’t run by scientists anymore (has not been for 13 years!) and Benoît Battistelli/António Campinos are the pinnacle of the EPO’s demise, cementing a dark destiny because the EPO is unable to recruit the people it needs. It moreover fires many who are skilled and competent, accusing them of “incompetence” instead (“incompetent” typically means one who follows the law rather than unlawful orders from Battistelli/Campinos/Bergot).

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/2020/11/07/on-downfall-of-the-epo/

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 23/6/2021: TeXmacs 2.1 and Blender LTS Support

    Links for the day



  2. How to Install and Then Use NetSurf as a Web Browser for the User-Centric Web, Not 'GAFAMNet'

    Today we take a quick look at what it's like to actually install NetSurf (some distros, like some Xfce-based ones, are bundled with it); we then take it for a spin



  3. Shifting Back to Fundamentals and Basics of the World Wide Web (and Gemini)

    Gemini protocol or simplified Web might be the way to go; it's easier to maintain, secure, and it's vastly better in terms of performance



  4. First I Came

    Time after time people will be reminded — or learn the hard way — that self reliance and avoidance of disappointment typically requires self-hosting, proper standards, free software, and simplicity, not outsourcing, large frameworks, and other kinds of unnecessary complexity



  5. IRC Proceedings: Tuesday, June 22, 2021

    IRC logs for Tuesday, June 22, 2021



  6. Time for Linus Torvalds to Enforce and Protect His Brand From Misuse by His Employer, the So-called 'Linux' Foundation

    The gross misuse or misapplication of the brand "Linux" is being highlighted in this video about the latest examples. It has gone too far; whether Linus Torvalds wishes to rock the boat that’s the so-called ‘Linux’ Foundation is totally up to him, but it might help if people contact him directly, especially longtime users and proponents of GNU/Linux.



  7. Links 23/6/2021: WordPress 5.8 Beta 3 and More Openwashing by LF

    Links for the day



  8. Links 22/6/2021: KDE Plasma 5.22.2, FreeBSD 13.0 Compared to DragonFlyBSD 6.0

    Links for the day



  9. “Linux Foundation Partners With Microsoft” Again

    Jim "Open Source Loves Microsoft" Zemlin shows (or rears) his face again, and as usual it’s just more promotion of marketing rubbish and openwashing of Microsoft (several new partnerships with Microsoft announced just hours ago)



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

    Links for the day



  11. 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



  12. IRC Proceedings: Monday, June 21, 2021

    IRC logs for Monday, June 21, 2021



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

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



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

    Links for the day



  15. 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



  16. Techrights Video Gallery Without JavaScript

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



  17. IRC Proceedings: Sunday, June 20, 2021

    IRC logs for Sunday, June 20, 2021



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

    Links for the day



  19. 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."



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

    Links for the day



  21. 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



  22. 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



  23. IRC Proceedings: Saturday, June 19, 2021

    IRC logs for Saturday, June 19, 2021



  24. 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)



  25. [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).



  26. 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).



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

    Links for the day



  28. 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



  29. 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



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

    Links for the day


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