10.03.21

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The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part I: Let the Sunshine In!

Posted in Europe, Patents at 6:05 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Series parts:

  1. YOU ARE HERE ☞ Let the Sunshine In!

Collage for EPO scandal
A rogues’ gallery showing members of the Administrative Council and the EPO‘s senior management who share responsibility for the adoption of the EPO’s strike regulations in June 2013.

Summary: Benoît Battistelli‘s unlawful strike regulations, which are protected by António Campinos, will be explained in a new series about perpetrators, including the facilitators of these human rights and labour rights abuses in Europe’s second-largest institution (the German government never really minded such abuses)

Earlier this year, on the 8th of July, Techrights reported that the Administrative Tribunal of the ILO (ILOAT) had finally overturned the notorious “Strike Regulations” which had been proposed by EPO President Benoît Battistelli and adopted by the Administrative Council back in June 2013.

Shortly afterwards, the Kluwer Patent Blog followed suit with its coverage of the story. Amongst other things, Kluwer commented on the massive delays with which EPO staff are confronted in their efforts to obtain justice:

The cases show, in the first place, how slow the means for redress are if you are an EPO staff member and get in conflict with management. Most of them date back to the period of deep social conflicts at the EPO under Battistelli’s leadership, during which several leaders of the trade union SUEPO or staff committees were fired or demoted on dubious grounds (see for instance here, here and here), and many controversial measures were implemented (see here and here). If it takes eight to thirteen years (case 4427) to get to a final decision in cases which directly affect the daily life of people, that is very worrying.

It’s no secret that the means of legal redress which are available to EPO staff are seriously deficient and not fit for purpose. And it’s also a matter of common knowledge that Battistelli and his cronies ruthlessly exploited the weaknesses in the system for their own nefarious purposes.

The report on the 136th meeting of the Administrative Council [PDF] which was published in the EPO’s Official Journal refers to the adoption of the “Strike Regulations” in the following anodyne terms:

On staff matters, the Council noted the social report for 2012, and also approved a set of amendments to the Service Regulations aiming first at improving working conditions and well-being at the EPO and second at establishing a clear legal framework for strikes and unauthorised absence.

With hindsight, it would have been more accurate to describe the adoption of these regulations as the establishment of “a clearly illegal framework for undermining the right to strike”.

But the members of Team Battistelli were masters of deception who were adept at concealing their audacious assault on the fundamental rights of EPO staff under a smoke-screen of bureaucratic double-speak.

Nevertheless, it seems that some chickens may finally – albeit belatedly – be coming home to roost for the powers-that-be at the EPO.

“…the members of Team Battistelli were masters of deception who were adept at concealing their audacious assault on the fundamental rights of EPO staff under a smoke-screen of bureaucratic double-speak.”It’s outrageous that the governing body of an international organisation such as the EPO could rubber-stamp regulations which breached the fundamental rights of its staff in this manner.

But what is even more outrageous is that such manifestly flawed regulations were permitted to remain in force without any effective internal review during a period of eight years before they were finally overturned by an independent external judicial review.

Following the delivery of the recent ground-breaking ILOAT judgments on 7 July 2021, it seems like a good time to have a closer look at the events of 2013 which led to this scandalous state of affairs.

Luckily, the EPO is a public service organisation which means that there are enough official records available that allow us to find out who exactly was responsible for this deplorable state of affairs.

“Luckily, the EPO is a public service organisation which means that there are enough official records available that allow us to find out who exactly was responsible for this deplorable state of affairs.”Thanks to the available records we are in a position to identify the members of the Administrative Council and the Office’s senior management team who were complicit in the adoption of the unlawful “Strike Regulations”.

And so we invite readers to join us on a “deep dive” into the inner workings of the EPO and its Administrative Council in June 2013.

In the course of this “muck-raking” expedition it is intended to “name and shame” the culprits who facilitated Battistelli’s infamous “reign of terror”.

Some of those responsible have long since sailed off into the sunset of retirement, or advanced to new positions in the national administrations of their home countries.

Others have been obliged to depart due to becoming implicated in “irregularities” on their home patches, and the rest are still in their former positions on the EPO’s Administrative Council.

“Others have been obliged to depart due to becoming implicated in “irregularities” on their home patches, and the rest are still in their former positions on the EPO’s Administrative Council.”It goes without saying that all of those responsible are able to shelter behind the cloak of “immunity” and need not fear having to face any consequences for their part in this inglorious affair.

But that does not prevent the identities of those involved from being revealed in order to ensure that their misdeeds are finally exposed to scrutiny in the court of public opinion.

Louis Brandeis quote
US Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis recommended sunlight as “the best of disinfectants”.

As US Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis once put it, “sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants”.

It remains to be seen how effective it will turn out to be in the case of the EPO but as the poet once said “hope springs eternal in the human breast”…

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