10.14.21

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The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part XII: The French Connection

Posted in Europe, Patents at 5:48 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Series parts:

  1. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part I: Let the Sunshine In!
  2. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part II: A “Unanimous” Endorsement?
  3. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part III: Three Missing Votes
  4. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part IV: The Founding States
  5. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part V: Germany Says “Ja”
  6. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part VI: A Distinct Lack of Dutch Courage
  7. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part VII: Luxembourgish Laxity
  8. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part VIII: Perfidious Albion and Pusillanimous Hibernia
  9. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part IX: More Holes Than Swiss Cheese
  10. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part X: Introducing the Controversial Christian Bock
  11. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part XI: “General Bock” – Battistelli’s Swiss Apprentice?
  12. YOU ARE HERE ☞ The French Connection

French INPI
Exploring the role of the French delegation in the adoption of Battistelli’s Vichyite “Strike Regulations”.

Summary: The EPO‘s presidency (led by Frenchmen for nearly 15 years out of the past 18 years; Benoît Battistelli and António Campinos are both French despite their somewhat misleading surnames) is extremely unlikely to even be mildly scrutinised by the French delegates because of a web of nepotism and protectionism

At the 136th meeting of the EPO’s Administrative Council in June 2013, the French delegation was headed by Yves Lapierre who was assisted by his deputy Fabrice Claireau.

Lapierre took over at the helm of the French INPI in August 2010 following Battistelli’s appointment as EPO President.

“From this it would appear that Lapierre did not have much prior experience in “IP” matters before taking over the top job at the INPI.”Before becoming head of the INPI, Lapierre had worked at the French Atomic Energy Commission (Commissariat à l’énergie atomique – CEA). Between 2003 and 2010 he was employed at AREVA, a French multinational group headquartered in Paris and specializing in nuclear power and renewable energy.

From this it would appear that Lapierre did not have much prior experience in “IP” matters before taking over the top job at the INPI. Same as Battistelli for that matter. It seems that he was mostly reliant on the guidance and counsel of his subordinates for the purpose of running the national “IP” office.

Yves Lapierre and Fabrice Claireau
The French representatives: head of delegation Yves Lapierre and his deputy Fabrice Claireau.

In particular, when it came to EPO affairs, Lapierre was more or less dependent on the “advice” provided to him by his deputy Fabrice Claireau.

Claireau was the INPI’s longtime Director of Legal and International Affairs. Of particular significance here is that Claireau had already served in this capacity under Battistelli during the latter’s tenure as head of the INPI between 2004 and 2010.

Fabrice Claireau
Fabrice Claireau served as the INPI’s Director of Legal and International Affairs under Benoît Battistelli from 2004 onwards. Source: INPI Annual Report 2006.

Given Claireau’s key “advisory” role in relation to EPO affairs, it’s hardly surprising that the French delegation under Lapierre gave its unquestioning support to Battistelli and voted in favour of his Vichyite "Strike Regulations" in June 2013.

“Of particular significance here is that Claireau had already served in this capacity under Battistelli during the latter’s tenure as head of the INPI between 2004 and 2010.”Some time later in April 2016 – after the Administrative Council had passed a resolution trying to reign in Battistelli and curb his abusive actions toward EPO staff – Lapierre made a statement to the French press in which he confirmed the official French view that the “reforms” being pursued by Battistelli were necessary and that it was important to implement them.

On that occasion he did manage to express some disquiet about the manner in which these “reforms” were being implemented: «les réformes sont nécessaires, il est important de les mettre en place, mais ce qui m’interroge, c’est la manière».

“Given Claireau’s key “advisory” role in relation to EPO affairs, it’s hardly surprising that the French delegation under Lapierre gave its unquestioning support to Battistelli and voted in favour of his Vichyite “Strike Regulations” in June 2013.”It’s not quite clear what exactly Lapierre intended to convey here, apart from trying to salve his own guilty conscience.

If you are prepared to advocate and rubber-stamp “reforms” which abrogate fundamental rights – which is exactly what Lapierre and his peers on the Administrative Council did in June 2013 – then you are essentially paving the way for abuses of authority and a deleterious social climate. It makes no sense whatsoever to call such measures “necessary” while at the same time purporting to deplore their inevitable consequences.

Lapierre’s term at the head of the French INPI ended when he retired in November 2016.

As for Claireau, he had departed from the INPI sometime earlier, towards the end of 2014.

By a strange “coincidence” Claireau resurfaced shortly afterwards at the EU trademark agency OHIM/EUIPO in Alicante where he was appointed [PDF] as chef-de-cabinet to the agency’s Executive Director, António Campinos. The chef-de-cabinet is responsible for the “cabinet” which assists and advises the Executive Director in the general running of the agency and the implementation of its strategy.

“…it’s difficult to avoid the impression that Claireau received his new position in Alicante as a reward for his services as Battistelli’s faithful “mole” on the French EPO delegation from 2010 onwards.”It’s not clear how exactly Claireau managed to get this job because no vacancy notice can be found. It thus remains unclear whether the position was filled by means of an open competition or whether Claireau was simply parachuted into it by his cronies in the “European IP Network”.

In any event, it’s difficult to avoid the impression that Claireau received his new position in Alicante as a reward for his services as Battistelli’s faithful “mole” on the French EPO delegation from 2010 onwards.

Claireau’s appointment to such a senior position in Alicante indicates that is part of the inner “circle of trust” of the Battistelli-Campinos clique which has come to dominate both the EPO and EUIPO to the detriment of their good governance.

Claireau and Martti Enäjärvi
Claireau (left) with EUIPO “Special Advisor” Martti Enäjärvi (right) at a WIPO Symposium in Krakow (2011).

Claireau’s soujourn in Alicante ended sometime in 2018 when he returned to France to take up a position as legal advisor to the Secrétariat général des affaires européennes (SGAE). His position as Campinos’ chef-de-cabinet in Alicante was “inherited” by his deputy, Niloofar “Nellie” Simon. Simon later joined Campinos at the EPO in Munich as predicted by Techrights in October 2018.

The SGAE where Claireau now works is a French government body under the direction of the Prime Minister. It is responsible for inter-ministerial coordination in European affairs and its function is to ensure the coherence and unity of France’s position in relation to the EU and OECD.

“The SGAE where Claireau now works is a French government body under the direction of the Prime Minister. It is responsible for inter-ministerial coordination in European affairs and its function is to ensure the coherence and unity of France’s position in relation to the EU and OECD.”More recently, Claireau was spotted with Richard Yung, a former Principal Director in the EPO’s International and Legal Affairs Directorate who now heads the French National Anti-Counterfeiting Committee (CNAC).

During the Battistelli era at the EPO, Yung was openly critical of his compatriot’s excesses. More recently, he seems to have become a rather uncritical cheerleader for the French branch of Team UPC.

In May 2021, together with Max Brunner, an official from the French Ministry of Justice, Claireau and Yung conducted an inspection of premises which have been earmarked for the French division of the Unified Patent Court (UPC).

Fabrice-Claireau-UPC
Fabrice Claireau (left) inspecting premises earmarked for the UPC in Paris in the company of Richard Yung (right) and Max Brunner (centre) from the French Ministry of Justice.

That more or less wraps up our look at the French representatives who gave their unqualified endorsement to Battistelli’s Vichyite "Strike Regulations" in June 2013.

“In May 2021, together with Max Brunner, an official from the French Ministry of Justice, Claireau and Yung conducted an inspection of premises which have been earmarked for the French division of the Unified Patent Court (UPC).”As far as Lapierre and Claireau are concerned, one thing which can be said without fear of contradiction is that during their time on the EPO’s Administrative Council neither of them showed any particular concern for their duty of care to EPO staff.

The inimitable duo were more at home rubbing shoulders with high-ranking representatives of French industry such as Yves Carcelle, CEO of Louis Vuitton, which forms part of the luxury goods conglomerate LVMH controlled by the prominent French plutocrat Bernard Arnault.

Claireau-and-Louis-Vuitton-CEO
Claireau (left) and Lapierre (right) posing for a photo-op with Louis Vuitton CEO Yves Carcelle (centre) in 2010.

Before concluding, it is worth noting that the position adopted by the French delegation on the EPO’s Administrative Council is often followed by the representatives from France’s traditional "Club Med" allies, the Iberian nations Spain and Portugal, as well as Italy.

“As far as Lapierre and Claireau are concerned, one thing which can be said without fear of contradiction is that during their time on the EPO’s Administrative Council neither of them showed any particular concern for their duty of care to EPO staff.”In the case of Battistelli’s “Strike Regulations”, Spain and Portugal followed the lead give by France and voted in favour. However, as we shall see in due course, Italy decided to withhold its support by abstaining.

In the upcoming parts we will take a look at the Spanish and Portuguese delegations and we will return to the Italian delegation in a later part of the series.

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