05.15.22

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Patent Granting at the EPO Has Collapsed by 24% Owing to Much-Needed Industrial Action

Posted in Europe, Patents at 1:22 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Video download link | md5sum 954eaf1895d37a3d1cd81c91ad93af26
More Research, Less Rubber-stamping
Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0

Summary: Seeing that the EPO’s management routinely violates the law and even the very legal basis of the EPO’s existence (it is a monopoly in Europe; no body has the authority to compete against it), the EPO’s examiners have embarked on a ‘Work-to-Rule’ campaign — working in compliance with the rules as defined 49 years ago and revised over the decades — and the European Patent Convention (EPC) takes priority over unlawful demands from middle and upper management; this is proving highly effective so far and it will carry on until demands are met, i.e. until the law is obeyed and staff is treated with respect/dignity

THE EPO‘s staff union in Munich (known as SUEPO Munich) is pleased with the outcome of the industrial action, which started earlier this year. António Campinos is already losing his temper. It seems to be working.

“The ‘Work-to-Rule Actions’ are proving successful,” SUEPO Munich says (see video above or text below), “and the Focus on search actions is effective. The actions are drawing the attention of the Administrative Council and external stakeholders thereby persuading management to take staff’s concerns seriously. Actions continue.”

“In a nutshell, the industrial action is working because there’s a lot less focus on granting European Patents (especially bogus and harmful ones like software patents).”Excellent! These ‘Work-to-Rule Actions’ aren’t some kind of “activism” but an attempt to compel the management to obey the law! This is essential. The European public interest is with the examiners.

The EPO has not said anything of substance lately. Campinos tries to leverage Peru for PR (like Benoît Battistelli visiting former colonies of France), as we noted some days ago in a prior video, and now there’s this fluff (warning: epo.org link) about a notorious exam you must take unless you’re Željko Topić, the "doyen of Intellectual Property in the (Balkan) region".

In a nutshell, the industrial action is working because there’s a lot less focus on granting European Patents (especially bogus and harmful ones like software patents). The staff wants to fix the patent quality problem and there’s an upcoming meeting (Wednesday the 18th of May) on the matter. It will take place about a fortnight after the staff survey’s deadline was reached. The EPO’s staff is organised, unionised, and eager to stop the financialization of the EPO.

Here’s the letter to staff:

Ortssektion München . Local Section Munich . Section locale de Munich

12.05.2022
su22002mp – 0.2.1/0.3.2

SUEPO Work-to-Rule Actions are successful and continue

Where do we stand?

Early this year, SUEPO called for actions supported by the Central Staff Committee (CSC). The main reason for discontent with the EPO present administration led by Mr. Campinos during the last four years follows his flawed Financial Study of 2019 made by Oliver Wyman & Mercer and the consequent reforms.

The new salary adjustment procedure causes a disastrous immediate and long-term loss of purchasing power and denies the massive efforts made by EPO staff during the last two pandemic years.

In view of the above issues, SUEPO proposed on the 22 February 2022 an ‘Action Plan’ which was largely approved by staff.

Action Plan

The ‘Work-to-Rule Actions’ are proving successful and the Focus on search actions is effective. The actions are drawing the attention of the Administrative Council and external stakeholders thereby persuading management to take staff’s concerns seriously.

The following is the aggregated data:

January – February
Examiner Products (S,E,O) is +1% above 2021
Search Actions are +11% above 2021 and +8% above plan
Grants are -21% below 2021 and -8% below plan

January – March.
Examiner Products (S,E,O) is -2% below 2021
Search Actions are +9% above 2021 and +5% above plan
Grants are -24% below 2021 and -12% below plan

January – April.
Examiner Products (S,E,O) is -4% below 2021
Search Actions are +7% above 2021 and +6% above plan
Grants are -24% below 2021 and -10% below plan

DG1 Holistic Dashboard
Source: DG1 Holistic Dashboard

Industrial Actions

The focus on the Search Actions has caused a steep decrease in Grants followed by an even steeper decline since the successful strike day on the 22 March 2022. A significant decrease in Grants can be clearly seen in the DG1 Management Dashboard. Staff has understood that even a reward of a double step this year won’t make up for the loss of purchasing power due to the lack of a salary adjustment.

The inflation in the Netherlands of 11.2% and in Germany of 7.8% over the last 12 months accounts for far more than a double step reward (on average 1 step equals 2%). Less than 60% of eligible staff (actually less than 50% of all staff) may receive a single step let alone a double step this year. This is the worst year in the career of EPO staff which comes at the time when staff worked diligently through the worst pandemic of the century and the worst inflation since the EPO inception.

Ignoring the facts

Mr. Campinos ignores every invitation from the social partner to discuss staff’s problems. SUEPO invited Mr. Campinos on the 1st, on 5th and on 6th of April. All these dates were ignored and only on the 12th of April did Mr. Campinos react, by sending a letter just before the Administrative Council meeting for his communication exercise. Management representatives have anyway no mandate to meaningfully talk to SUEPO about the issues in the call for strike and merely repeat the Office’s statements.

Former presidents talked to SUEPO and unsurprisingly found common ground on difficult issues such as on the salary adjustment procedure. The salary adjustment procedure was a co-supported measure by management and staff for more than 30 years. This all changed when Mr. Battistelli entered our office and even worsened now with Mr. Campinos. Under their management not once could a solution be found.

Nevertheless, we continue to invite Mr. Campinos in person to the negotiation table since only through dialogue can we achieve a positive outcome for staff.

SUEPO Munich

Notice how quiet not only the Office but also the media has been. The media isn’t doing its job.

“Actions continue.”

Make the "f" president fully aware of what EPO staff thinks of him (that’s what the staff survey is for). His father would be able to relate if he was still alive.

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