11.18.20

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Two Years Without Progress on Impartiality of Internal Tribunals at the European Patent Office (EPO)

Posted in Europe, Patents at 8:07 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

António Campinos fair trial

Summary: The biased nature of legal proceedings at the EPO (regarding staff and patents alike) goes all the way up to managerial abuse and maladministration

THREE days ago we mentioned repeated appeals for correcting an injustice at the EPO — the sort of injustice that enabled Benoît Battistelli to attack truth-telling staff.

Being Battistelli’s friend, who got the job from Battistelli, of course we never expected António Campinos to do any better. Even our more vocal critics would have to admit that we were right about Campinos all along (even years before he presided over staff as Office President). These clueless autocrats know nothing about managing people, they’re not scientists (so of course they blindly push software patents in Europe against the advice of software professionals) and when they don’t know what to say they just stonewall — the equivalent of running and hiding at the top floors of the Isar Building.

The Central Staff Committee sent the following letter to Campinos in late June (amicably worded and factual, as usual):

Reference: re20097cl – 0.3.1/5.2
Date: 19.06.2020

European Patent Office | 80298 MUNICH | GERMANY

Mr António Campinos
President of the EPO

ISAR – Room 1081

OPEN LETTER

Appeals Committee – Your letter of 10 June 2020

Dear Mr President,

The functioning of the Appeals Committee (ApC) has been a hot topic on the social agenda for much too long a period. The Central Staff Committee (CSC) deeply regrets that since you took office in July 2018 no progress has materialised. Your letter of 10 June 2020 lets us conclude that by the end of the mandate of the present CSC nothing will have changed.

Appointment of the chair and vice-chairs

The appointment of the chair and the two vice-chairs of the ApC pursuant to Article 111(2) ServRegs is to be made by 5 October 2020 at the latest, so as to guarantee its continuous functioning. The Administrative Council will have to appoint a chair and two vice-chairs for their ApC pursuant to Article 111(1) ServRegs by this date as well.

Whilst we appreciate that you invite us to appoint one staff representative to participate as an observer in the selection procedure, we urge you to launch the selection procedure now without any further delay. We already pointed to the importance of an early start of the selection process and an early publication of the vacancy notices in our letter of 31 January 2020 – unfortunately to no avail.

We would like to emphasise that the good functioning of the ApC is key for ensuring social peace in the Office – and for reducing litigation before the Administrative Tribunal of the ILO (ILOAT). Far too many colleagues perceive the current ApC only as a tiresome hurdle before getting access to justice before the ILOAT.

In order to contribute to a well-functioning internal mechanism for the resolution of conflicts, our intent is to seek agreement with you in the selection procedure on a chair and two vice-chairs of the ApC who possess the qualifications required for the appointment to a high judicial office or who are lawyers with an experience in employment law acquired at national or international level. They should not be employees of the Office and should not have been in closer relation to the Office within the past ten years. Our focus will as well be on gender and age diversity, in order to further emphasise the independence and neutrality of the ApC. It is self-evident that we would neither support nor accept any candidate who has defended a party – be it a staff member or the administration – in an internal procedure within the past ten years.

Appointment of the members of the ApC

Whilst we appreciate that you agree to broadening the pool of potential appointees to the ApC in principle, and whilst we share the intention that the independence and impartiality of the members of the ApC should be guaranteed, we recommend that best-practice solutions be adopted. Guidance in this regard could be found in Articles 23 and 24 EPC, as well in national law, e.g. §§ 41–49 ZPO (German Code of Civil Procedure).

Improvement of the functioning of the ApC

The ApC still does not function to the satisfaction of its members and of the appellants.

For practical reasons, it appears appropriate that the preparation of a proposal for amended regulations of the ApC – be it on the level of the Service Regulations, the Implementing Regulations or the Rules of Procedure – goes along with an early consultation and involvement of the CSC. Rather than putting it in the big scope of the Working Group on Resources and Communication, a smaller group dedicated to the rather complex subject-matter of the ApC appears more productive.

In the interest of the staff of the EPO, we express our sincere wish that the long-lasting issues of the ApC can be solved as soon as possible. Envisaging the October session of the Administrative Council would then fall together with the mandate of the new chair and vice-chairs.

Yours sincerely,

Alain Dumont
Acting Chairman of the Central Staff Committee

cc.: Chairman of the Administrative Council; Mr Josef Kratochvíl

“The functioning of the Appeals Committee (ApC) has been a hot topic on the social agenda for far too long,” the Central Staff Committee explained. “Independence, impartiality and competence of the chair, vice-chairs and members of the ApC are crucial for its proper functioning.”

COVID-19 was becoming less of a valid excuse for procrastination at this stage.

“In this open letter,” said they, “we request that the President (and the Administrative Council) takes all measures to improve the functioning of the ApC and restore the trust of staff in their ApC. The preparation of a proposal for amended regulations of the ApC goes along with early consultation and involvement of the CSC, preferably before the October session of the Administrative Council.”

“Mafia-like culture is the norm when it comes to EPO management.”We already know the October outcome, but we’ll get to that at a later stage. Basically, nothing at all is improving at the Office. Nothing. The media is being gagged and bribed, so most people in Europe know nothing about those scandals. Open letters to the President aren’t open to the public, only to colleagues, and those appointments to the Appeals Committee aren’t an issue the public cares to understand, let alone the media. We were recently told that French media would get involved, but time will tell. We’ve already seen how EPO gagged and spiked critical pieces about itself, either by threatening, bribing, or both. Mafia-like culture is the norm when it comes to EPO management.

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